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.
Bukhara is our first walled city and the history here goes back 2700 years. Until recently it was 2500 years, but they just changed it because of new evidence.
First impressions!!! Remember, these are only mine.
They have carefully restored a lot of the city including the walls, but in doing so they have not recreated the atmosphere within it. By that I mean they have forced the street traders into alcove shops and in doing so have lost that hustle and bustle so prevalent from that time.
The Mosques, Madrassas and Mausoleums (now known in the group as the 3 MMM's) are beautiful but so much of it looks new. Now don't get me wrong the recreation when finished will create an attraction for tourists forever. They are already here in their thousands. At night however it seems to loose that newness and whilst the bustle is gone the hustle returns.
Silk from this part of the world is everywhere. En route our guide has explained that each silk worm will consume 30 Kilo's of Mulberry leaves before spinning it's cocoon. At that point they boil the cocoons to kill the worm before they can hatch as a butterfly. We stopped en route to photograph donkey-drawn carts carrying the cut Mulberry branches. For the ladies a hand made silk scarf will run you anywhere up to $25 dependent on the quality, for the men a bottle of Vodka is just slightly more expensive than a bottle of beer and that's the good stuff.
I'm not sure what season we are in here as the roses which are plentiful, have already started to whither. In Canada they are just starting to grow!! But the fruit is ready. Strawberries, cherries are available everywhere which brings me to the point of praising our tour leader Roger.
As this trip is technically work (ok it's a rough job but someone has to do it) I have been shadowing Roger from day 1. It's almost like doing 2 days each day. Wherever possible when we allow our clients a break in the afternoon it's off to visit the restaurant we are going to that night and a different one for lunch the next day. Here he goes over the menu of what will be served, order juices, water, sometimes vodka etc and most of all asks that 2 glasses be set for each person. Then it's on to a local market to buy whatever is needed for the next day. Roger is the snack king of the tour leader world, so we look for local snacks he can give out on the bus or when walking, the man is always carrying this big backpack whilst the rest of us swelter in the heat. Local fruits are the snack today, but they require their skins to be peeled before eaten as we cannot guarantee that they have been washed and so on. Back to the hotel just in time to freshen up in time to take the clients to dinner. He has done this trip several times before, has copious notes but things change. The puppet show he arranged one night used to be in one place that is now torn down so we have to track them down and rearrange another venue. Add to that the patience of Job and you wonder how they do it from trip to trip. Inevitably when we get to our restaurant no 2 glasses and patiently he goes through the process again.
Tomorrow it's onto Khiva, 11 hours through the desert!!!