Uzbekistan: On the (Rail)Road to Bukhara

Fast Train to Bukhara

It’s early Saturday morning here in Uzbekistan, hot already, and we are on the high-speed train to Bukhara, one of the ancient and great cities of the Silk Road.

“Silk Road” refers to the trading routes stretching from Beijing all the way to Syria which were in use thousands of years ago.
 
Chinese silk went westbound and in the early times precious metals and famed Kyrgyz horses were much desired by the Chinese in return.
 
Parts of Central Asia were variously conquered by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
 
And then there is the Russian/Soviet conquests dating from the mid-19th century.
 
Uzbekistan was under the control of the Soviet Union until it collapsed in 1991.
 
During the Czarist period, a Romanov cousin was banished here and he built a beautiful mansion which we saw yesterday.
 
 
I’m traveling with David (many thanks to Nancy for once again allowing him to explore off the beaten path.)
 

David

 
Tashkent, though of ancient origins, is a modern city due to a devastating earthquake in April of 1966.
 
The quake measured 5.1 on the Richter scale but with an epicenter right in the city center, it leveled thousands of homes and buildings.
 

Earthquake Memorial

 
The Soviets rebuilt the place and many of them chose to remain here.
 
We stayed in a nice hotel not far from their Independence Square.
 
I decided to get a 75-minute massage there ($30) as a way of unwinding from the long flight.
 
I learned that an Uzbek massage is part chiropractic session, part wrestling match and massage.
 
I survived, but just barely.
 
Note to self: In the future always choose the “light” version and say you have spinal problems whether or not you do.
 
We saw the Osman Koran, one of the oldest in the world and several newer mosques.
 
It’s amazing how much you can see if it is just two people, a guide and a driver.
 
We visited a famous bazaar, Chor-Su, yesterday, which is the market of choice for many.
 
It is a gigantic building full of stalls filled with every conceivable commodity. 
 
Here is the horse meat stall with a rather bored fellow at the reins.
 
 
We also bought (and ate) fresh bread too hot to touch and wandered about eyeing melons, including ones called “torpedoes” as that is how they looked.
 
This train is nicer than any Amtrak and travels 230 KM/H at top speed with table service in business class.  
 
Bukhara promises to be much hotter even than Tashkent.
 
We are about to find out.
 

 

 

12 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *