Elisa Chieno

Joined November 2017Living in: Munich, Germany
  • Day9

    Samarkand, Bibi-Khanym Mosque

    April 21 in Uzbekistan ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Bus drops us off narrow alley
    Bazar
    Mosque huge entrance

    Temur's wife chinesr princess made fall in love. He found out ordered cover face
    In reality started 18th 19th century

    In reality Temur built Mosque when he conquered India.
    Built in front of Bibi-Khanym mausoleum
    Initially it was built with higher costs than he planned so Temur had him executed
    And rebuilt it
    15k Ppl. Could pray
    The entrance was higher than now.
    Temur "if you want to see how powerful we are, look at our buildings"
    To build it, he sold 5000 Indian slaves

    Mosque built in only 4 years but not enough : to be quicker they filled walls with rubbish
    Biggest dome in Central Asia
    Old Coran we saw in Tashkent was kept here

    The mosque was partly destroyed in the 17th century earthquake.
    Inside decorated with very tiny details. Typical of Samarkand

    2 Smaller mosques on the side
    Mosque complex had marble columns.
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  • Day7

    Yurt Camp Aidar, Dinner & Dancing

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    It has been a long day. After hundreds of kilometers on dirty tracks and a camel ride, we deserve a good rest. Unfortunately it has started raining and we cannot light the fire in the camp... But the atmosphere is still fantastic!
    Dinner is served in the big building close to the restroom facilties and consists of the usual salad.and soup, followed by a delicious beef stew. Tonight we even have unlimited vodka and wine! Sometimes I really forget that we are in an Islamic country... 😅

    After dinner we are entertained by a local musician and singer. The music is actually quite enjoyable... The only problem is that Said tries very hard to convince us to dance and doesn't seem to be willing to take a "no" as an answer... 🙈
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  • Day7

    Yurt Camp Aidar, Camel Riding

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I don't really know how, but apparently I managed to convince my dad to join the camel ride! We all head to the hilly side of the camp, where we spotted some camels on the way to the camp. Only my mum stays back as since yesterday evening she has an eye infection and it's not really getting better. 😞

    When we find the starting point of the ride, there are already some camels quietly sitting on the ground. They look a bit weird as they are quite mangy, but we soon realise that they have just been sheared. While we wait, we use the time to become familiar with our humped friends: they are really tame, they apparently and with their funny face it looks like they are always smiling. Apparently they love selfies and even seem to mirror my facial expressions! 🐫👩🏼📸😂

    It's finally time to start riding! Differently from my experience with the dromedaries, it's not as scary when the camel gets up and even my dad seems to be at ease. We are divided into two groups of three, each led by a camera driver. I am together with my dad and a friendly guy from Costa Rica. The ride consists of a short tour of the surrounding area, which basically consists of a hilly terrain covered with sand and bushes. All around us there are some camels quietly grazing the grass. 😍

    After about half an hour we return to our camp, now lit by the dull dusk light. This place is really magical...
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  • Day7

    Yangui Gazgan, Yurt Camp Aidar

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We leave Nurata heading to our final destination (at least for today): the Yurt Camp!
    We drive past endless grasslands dotted with giant bright green cauliflowers and beautiful lila bushes. Said explains that the lila ones are special plants with roots that go down to 15m of depth: by eradicating a plant and putting it in a closed plastic bag, with the moisture you can obtain 15gr of water! No wonder why camels love it... 🐫🥤🌱

    We keep driving on dirt tracks in the middle of the steppe until Furcat suddenly stops our van: we are finally there! 🏁

    The Yurt Camp is really different from what I expected. First of all, it's not in what I had pictured in my mind as "desert" but rather in a green grass hollow. The yurts look like tiny white circular bungalows placed in a dip amond the hills around a stone fireplace. The most surprising part is however the inside of the tents: they are very spacious, set with four beds and, above all, wonderfully furnished with burgund-red carpets and wall decorations! Inside the temperature is significantly higher than outside and, even more strikingly, there is almost no humidity at all! Apparently these tents are extremely well isolated despite the fact the door is simply a curtain... 🤔

    The camp also provides toilet and shower facilities... Everything surprisingly clean! Close to the restrooms, there is also a big building that will be used for the meals. Said assigns one tent to our family and another one to Noha, Heather and Aurora. We have just the time to leave our luggage and then we are out again: it has stopped raining and it's time to go for a camel ride! 🐫
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  • Day7

    Nurata, Chashma & Fortress of Alexander

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After lunch we get back on our van and drive to our next and last stop before the yurt camp: a special site just below a great fortress erected on a hill. Legend has it that it was built by Alexander The Great, but Said promptly debunks this myth: Alexander never came this far. The fortress was instead apparently built after his death by one of his soldiers.

    Instead of walking up to the "fake fortress", we explose the site underneath it.
    Said explains to us that Nurota (pronounced "nurata") carries the name of legendary a generous man who was buried here. When he died, a special spring was: to the astonishment of everyone, it indeed contained fish, that seemed to come from nowhere! It was obviously considered a miracle and ever since then it was prohibited to eat the fish or to contaminate the water with rubbish or anything else.

    The spring has a stunning transparent blue water (by far the cleanest that we have seen so far) and is full of fish! Around the pool there are two mosques dating back to the 9th and 15th-16th century respectively, as well as a beautiful mausoleum.
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  • Day7

    Nurata, Poppy Fields & Lunch

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    After the visit of the caravanserai, we head to lunch, but a bad surprise awaits: the road is closed! And, even worse, there seem to be no other direct road...

    After turning back a couple of times, we resign to ask some random villagers, but the suggested way turns out to be a bumpy dirt track in the middle of the steppe. At this poing Said and the driver (Mr. Furqat) decide to take a longer way...

    The result is that we end up travelling for hours, but at least on a paved road! Even if our stomachs are growling, we can enjoy the amaying scenery: the yellow steppe had turned into a green and red grassland covered with poppy flowes. Even if we are three hours behind schedule, we cannot resist and ask Said for a photo stop. We are apparently in the middle of nowhere: all around us is just grass, poppy flowers and hills. However, once we get back on the van we realise that in the fields there's plenty of local women picking up the flowers... and dancing among them! Maybe in the end you don't need to refine poppy seeds to get opium...

    After driving past a hill, we finally reach the villahe of Nurata, where we are supposed to have lunch, We are already celebrating the imminent lunch (and toilets!), when we realise that have got lost: this village is indeed a labyrinth of narrow alleys marked by holes, bumps and huge paddles.

    When we finally arrive, we discover that our restaurant is a local house serving hand-made food. The good news is that the meal is delicious (we try some steamed meat-filled dumplings). The bad news is that the toilet reminds me of my holiday in India... and that's not a compliment!
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  • Day7

    Rabati Malik Caravanserai

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Coming out of the sardoba we notice something that we unexplicably missed when we got off the bus: on the other side of the highway a huge arch towers over the road: it's the entrance of the ancient Raboti Malik Caravanserai.

    Built between 1.068 and 1.080, it used to be the biggest caravanserai in central Asia... and indeed the portal is huge! The complex used to have three entrances with minarets and walls, but unfortunately only the entrance remains: everything else is gone because the Soviets demolished it (apparently they needed bricks...).

    With Said's help, we carefully cross the highway and explose the site. Seeing close up, the entrance arch is truly impressive, but the extension of the construction beyond the entrance is even more surprising. This caravanserai was like a 5-star hotel with different levels of rooms and a platform for the yurts! If only the Soviets hadn't needed bricks...
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  • Day7

    Rabati Malik Sardoba (Cistern)

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Our driver suddenly stops on the highway, apparently in the middle of nowhere, When we get off, we however understand the reason: in front of us there is a hemispherical brick building different from any construction we have seen so far.

    Said explains that it's a "Sardoba" dating back to the early 11th century. The word literally means "well", but it's actually a water storage facility that collects rainwater and snow. This water was not contaminated by animals and was used for a nearby caravanserrai,

    We walk down some stairs reaching the main part of the building: a wide circular cistern topped by a dome. There is still some water inside, but a white line on the walls shows the level that used to be reached by the water.
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  • Day7

    Guijduvan, Ceramic & Embroidery Workshop

    April 19 in Uzbekistan ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    It's our last day in Bukhara and a bad surprise awaits us: for the first time since our arrival in Uzbekistan, it's pouring with rain! And apparently the weather will be even worse in Samarkand... 😭

    On our way to the Yurt Camp we have a few stops scheduled.
    The first one is at a local ceramic & embroidery production house. It's located about an hour away from Bukhara because in this area there is very good clay.

    The women of the family do embroideries with natural colours (not too bright) and the daughter of the owner shows us the sewing techniques. Embroideries are always made in silk while the basis can be either cotton or a mix of cotton and silk.

    For producing the ceramics they are using local clay mixed with natural products. There is still a stone mill moved by a donkey which is used once per week. The firing is done 3 times per month in ovens dug in the ground that reach 1000 degrees.

    After the visit we are served some tea and nuts, including apricot stones. Super yummy! 😋
    By the time we leave, it has stopped raining and the sun is out. Hopefully it will last...
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  • Day6

    Bukhara, Magoki-i-Attari Mosque & Dining

    April 18 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    After the caravanserai we proceed to the trading complex we visited yesterday and, eventually, we find ourselves in front of an ancient-looking mosque. Said explains that it's the Magoki-i-Attari mosque... and it is quite old indeed!

    The building was constructed in the 9th to 10th-century on the remains of a Zoroastrian temple and is in fact beautifully decorated with zoroastrian motives. Apparently it's the first time that tiles (made with glazed terracotta) were used for decorations. The mosque is now below ground level as new buildings were later constructed on the debris of the previous ones, thus raising the ground level. Nowadays the mosque is used as a museum of carpets.

    Once we get closer to the mosque a knife master proudly shows us his best blades. Unfortunately, I fear they will not pass as "harmless souvenirs" at the security controls of our carry-on luggage...

    The weather is pretty weird today: the sky is now completely clouded and - for the first time since we arrived in Uzbekistan - it's getting muggy. All of a sudden it starts to rain and we decide that it's time to call it a day... at least for the sightseeing part!

    At 7pm we meet in the hotel lobby to go all together to dinner. This time Said booked a a beautiful restaurant close to the trading centre with a stunning view over the domes of the complex. Also the food is amazing: this time Said ordered kebab!

    During the meal I ask Said some questions about average salaries and prices: apparently people in Uzbekistan don't earn more than 200 USD per month... max 300 if they have well paid white-collar jobs. Rental prices are however proportional: for a great apartment in the city centre of Tashkent you don't pay more than 60.000 USD. Renting is apparently very uncommon as young people usually live with their parents until they get married. However, the maximum rental price of a big apartment in Tashkent would be 200 USD. With my savings I could definitely live here for a while...

    After dinner, I go back to the hotel to start packing (it's our last night in Bukhara), while Said accompanies the rest of the group to the minaret square to enjoy the night view. Tomorrow we will have the most adventurous part of our tour: the yurt camping!
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