Because we need a food post

Bread in Uzbekistan is a big deal.

Every day, all day, bakeries are pumping out huge round loaves of bread. But this ain’t no Wonder Bread operation. All the loaves are made by hand, stamped with a pretty design in the center, and sprinkled with seeds.

Then it’s one guy’s job to stick his head into a hot brick oven to slap the flat loaves onto the walls. Over and over.

Fortunately, no one has to use his hands to get the hot loaves out.

Heck, with the paddle, it looks easy, and not like you’re baking your face and hands into shoe leather.

Next: more market food.

To Hell and Bukhara

After three days in Samarkand, we were ready to take the train to our next stop on the Silk Road, Bukhara. As we were rushing to board, however, Abby slipped off the (single, very high) step leading into the compartment. Instead of falling to the platform, she fell backward directly onto the tracks and fractured her skull. She was insensible for perhaps the most frightening 10 minutes of my life, and about 20 minutes after that we were in an ambulance headed straight to Samarkand’s finest hospital.

We stayed there a few nights while Abby recovered. While there were no amenities apart from a private room with its own washroom, the medical personnel were very attentive, and they took good care of Abby (apart from the ENT doctor who missed seeing the wad of cotton jammed up in her ear canal for two days). They also wouldn’t take a penny from us for her treatment. When Abby felt ready, we discharged ourselves and went to rest in Tashkent before proceeding to London on medevac for follow-up consultations.

So, what’s to see in Tashkent? Markets, of course!

First we have Chorsu Bazaar. Basically, if you eat it, they sell it.

The real action is in the central building, which was built in 1980.

Next: more Chorsu Bazaar.

There ain’t no cure for the Samarkand blues

Yes, this next post was supposed to be about markets, but I haven’t exhausted my supply of Samarkand-based puns yet.

These are photos from the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis. According to Wikipedia,

The name Shah-i-Zinda (meaning “The living king”) is connected with the legend that Qutham ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, is buried here. He came to Samarkand with the Arab invasion in the 7th century to preach Islam. Popular legends speak that he was beheaded for his faith but he didn’t die, took his head and went into the deep well (Garden of Paradise), where he’s still living.

Tombs and mausoleums.
There is a lot of blue tile.

Samarkand, and the Living Is Easy

We recently went to Samarkand, Uzbekistan to visit friends who were working in Tashkent. Samarkand was to be our first stop on a tour of the major Silk Road cities. Let’s see what Samarkand has to offer.

This is Registan Square, the heart of ancient Samarkand. The three madrassahs flanking the square were built between the 15th and 17th centuries.
The square is a popular backdrop for newlyweds having their photo taken.
This is the interior of the left-most madrassah, the Ulugh Beg, built by the astronomer/mathematician sultan of that name in 1417-1420. We had coffee in one of the alcoves–former dormitories that have been converted to shops, cafes, and storage areas.
Detail of the dormitory balconies.
This is the exterior of the Sher-Dor Madrassah, built 1619-1636 by a sultan who does not merit his own Wikipedia page.
One of the unusual features of the Sher-Dor Madrassah is the external façade with its images of faces, tigers and deer. Typically, Islamic art is proscribed from showing living creatures.
The interior is pretty impressive.
The courtyard mosaics are far more interesting than the commerce.

Next: the market.

The view at night is dramatic as well.