I stayed an extra day in Bukhara, to try and settle my still grumbling stomach and improve my general feeling of lethargy. To be honest I did very little, tiredness is very evident and I’m unsure if it’s a culmination of the hardships and illnesses of these last few weeks, or my underlying illness finally catching up with me. This worries me. I still have not yet (in my own mind) started the adventure I set out to accomplish and my breathing difficulties in the desert made me realize it’s not an easy challenge I have embarked upon.
But I’m close. The excitement within me is building all the time as I travel further East. Here in the hostel an Austrian couple have arrived after coming from the Pamir Highway, telling tales of the beautiful mountains and wonderful hospitality. It gives me courage and I chase about on the internet for stories from other cyclists who are on, or just finished the same journey. I know I can do this.
Talking of the hostel, they are a great place to meet other travelers and adventurers. Two Russians left yesterday for Samarkand, but they were not just ordinary travelers. These two guys are getting quite famous and building a following online, because they have chosen to do something ‘different’. Rather than write about them myself, I’ll give you a link to the Daily Mail article which does a pretty good job. Click Here
Then there’s Jeppe, a young (20) Danish backpacker traveling around the world. At 16 he was in a band, making movies. Just talking to him you realize he’s obviously gifted, and yet another example of the type of person I’m glad to have met, someone who wants to experience all the world has to offer instead of sitting at home on the couch. It’s the huge diversity that is making this trip so memorable.
Bukhara itself is a nice place to rest up. It had been a very hard four days getting here from Khiva, the first two days spent battling the ever increasing headwind were just cruel – I’ve never loathed being on the bike so much. Then when the wind did drop on day three the flies were everywhere, crawling in my mouth and up my nostrils. I’m not sure if this wasn’t worse than the headwind, which obviously keeps away the flies. I suffered, but just kept on. You have to.
When I finally ventured out to take photographs, I was impressed with this old city. The renovations don’t seem as noticeable as in Khiva and maybe the tourist season is ending, because it’s pretty quiet here with much less hassle from vendors and stall holders. You still need to be on your mettle when shopping, prices can be inflated and I’m getting reasonably good at haggling them down. But the real gems are the buildings, of which there are many to satisfy any photographer.
In both Khiva and Bukhara there were many weddings taking place, something which pleased the tourists in the large public areas. In some of the shots I waited until they had gone, but here I think they add to the picture:
We visited ‘The Ark’, which was unusual in that we paid to go inside and see the museum exhibits. Interesting, but quite a small collection. No photos were allowed inside, though I did sneak the odd one or two.
Note the water tower in the picture below. It used to be open and you could climb to the platform, but now it’s fenced by barbed wire. This didn’t stop me getting some pictures from the top though.
Once back outside, we wandered into the bazar to buy some food for the next stage of our journey. We finally managed to find oats, but still no luck locating the gas cartridges before heading back to the hostel. The light was by now overhead and I’d decided to wait another hour or so until the sun started to drop and then return for more photographs.
On my return the first stop was to climb the tower. I was hoping I’d get a clear view of the minaret and mosque in the distance, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I did take a couple of shots from the tower, but also decided to get closer and wandered around the streets to find the mosque.
By now the light was pretty good, as I love what is known in photography terms ‘the golden hour’ at this time of day. It really brought out the golden colours of the stone buildings.
A last night meal of chicken and it was time to start packing things away. The hostel had been comfortable and cosy and I’d really enjoyed taking time out. Next morning I finished off this blog and said farewell to Clive who had decided to take the Southern route to Samarkand – a brave man as I couldn’t find anything at all about this route. I would take the Northern route and we’d meet up again in Samarkand. I’ll let you know in the next blog how we both fared, should be interesting to compare.