We drove into Bukhara in a dust storm. It was incredibly windy that day and since Bukhara is right on the edge of the desert sand had whipped up around us and it felt like a totally different planet. I’ve read The Martian. I know what can happen in dust storms. It was a bit unnerving.
My unease didn’t let up once we arrived at the hotel. I had seen pictures of course, and it came highly recommended, but when we turned down the dirty, narrow road and found the gate I was worried. But I should know from past experience not to judge a hotel by it’s door. The gate opened to the main reception area, which was clean and welcoming. Our room was big and comfortable, and once settled we ventured out to explore Bukhara.
Bukhara is a much smaller and more walk-able city than Samarkand, which suited me fine. After days of cars and buses, it was refreshing to stretch our legs a bit.
Like Samarkand, Bukhara is situated on the Silk Road and home to approximately 140 architectural monuments. The region has been inhabited for at least five millennia and the city has been around for about half that time.
We saw many sites including the Kalyan, the Bukhara Fortress, Labi Hauz, and Samanid Mausoleum.
One thing that differed greatly was the souvenir shopping. After lunch on the second day we had the afternoon off to use as we pleased. Sean and I, along with some friends, tore around the city looking for keepsakes from such a unique trip.
While shopping I was greatly surprised by the amount of English speakers I encountered. I’m used to Dushanbe where there is some English outside the Embassy, but you need Russian or Tajik to really get by. Almost everyone I interacted with in the shops spoke fairly decent English. I found it an interesting commentary on the difference between Bukhara and Dushanbe. One has a developed tourism industry, one does not.
After an enjoyable dinner we packed up our bags, went to bed, and in the early morning set out for a 12 hour journey back to Dushanbe. After miles and miles of bumpy roads, potty stops, checkpoints, and inadequate snacks, I’ve never been so happy to get back to Tajikistan.
Paved roads and potholes we know!
The things that make you happy after five days in Uzbekistan.