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  • Day34

    The tour ends but not our adventure

    June 18 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    One thing that Uzbekistan has done well is turn their traditions into thriving businesses. Carpet weaving, metal craft, ceramics, silk work and the like contribute to the economies of small towns and larger cities alike, often geared to the tourist industry. It's easy to be sceptical about the authenticity of goods sold from a city stall, which makes the experience of purchasing from someone actively engaged in producing the goods special. I had the pleasure of purchasing a lovely top from a man sitting at a sewing machine in tiny workroom within a memorial complex we visited in Chor Bakr, a small village out of Bukhara.

    The memorial complex of Chor Bakr was built over the burial place of Anu Bakr Said who died in the year 360 of the Muslim Calendar (970-971 AD). He was one of the four of Abu-Bakrs (Chor-Bakr) who were thought to be descendants of Muhammad. Because of this connection, the Bukharan aristocracy liked to be buried there. It's now become a bit of a pilgrimage site. It was quite pleasing to see something that looked to be largely unrestored (for a change).

    Next stop was the Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace, which was the summer palace of the last Emir, Alim Khan. Built in 1911, the three-building compound incorporates elements of both Russian and traditional Bukharan architecture. Building actually started in the late 19th century and occurred over a 20 year period, which explains the differences in style. The interior rooms were quite over the top! Particularly impressive was the exterior of the White Hall and the completely separated Harem. The latter is situated some distance from the main buildings, beside a large pool and pavillion. Apparently the women would frolic in the pool and the Emir would stand on the pavilion and toss an apple to the chosen one.

    As well as being the place where the Sufi Order was founded, Gijduvan has gained fame as a centre for glazed ceramic production. This was also the final tourist site of our tour. Our trip notes indicated we'd be having a "masterclass" with ceramic artists. But that was not to be, instead being given a description of the process undertaken (which is impressive), before being shepherded into their showroom. Unfortunately not to our taste but we were treated to a glimpse of Muslim school life as another group visiting were holding a music demonstration for family and friends.

    Back in Bukhara for a free afternoon and morning, which was mostly spent in our hotel room to avoid the heat. A 4 hour train trip back to Tashkent followed by a pleasant farewell dinner. Final farewells to our companions of the last few weeks (and Les and Wendy, our companions of 32 days!). A few hours sleep then off to the airport for our flight to Istanbul for our early morning flight and the final leg of our Silk Road adventure.
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