Bob Perry, one of ElderTreks Country Directors, will be blogging from the road as he sets off on an epic 25 days across central Asia as part of ElderTreks The Stans tour. Keep your eyes on the blog as Bob will be posting updates throughout his tour.
Samarkand land of mystique and stories of the Silk Road.
After a 5 hour drive we arrive in the new tourist Mecca of Central Asia. It is strange but we have only been on the road a week or so but in that time we were the only tourists around. To then experience the return of the big busses is really quite a shock. What do you mean we aren't the only people here? Tourists from France, Germany and the rest of Europe are flocking to see this part of the world before it is changed forever.
Samarkand is where we first experience what I am starting to call the "we can build bigger buildings than you can" mentality that seems to pervade the history of this country. Registan Square is a sight that must be seen. Absolutely stupendous. The observatory built by Uleg Bek defies the imagination about what this guy could do with almost unlimited funds but ancient tools. Spent most of his life studying the stars instead of concentrating on running his empire. The end result - deposed by his son who then had him put to death. A bit rough don't you think?
All of these interesting characters come from "Temur" a figure still revered here as a ruler who actually cared about his people. Current politicians please take note. His statue is in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara.
It's really hot today, 34 Celsius. In and out of the bus, walking really starts to take its toll on the group. But it's a full day of being educated by our guide Babar. Yes just like the kids cartoon from yesteryear, but he has an almost encyclopedia type memory, full of anecdotes.
This is one of those places where pictures speak louder than words, so I will let them speak for me [ed note: awaiting Bob's pics!]. Tonight however we have an experience I think most of us did not want. Earthquake!!! Most of us were awoken at around 2:20 in the morning to our beds swaying from side to side. It went on for about 25 seconds (or at least seemed it). Sufficient that you wondered if it would stop or should we get the heck outa here. Then as quickly as it came it was gone.
However we survived and it is onto Bukhara.