May 06, 2006
Jul 18, 2006
We'll probably spend another day here, before heading to Shakhrisabz, to the south. That's all for now-
After a couple of days in Tashkent, we hopped in a Nexia and headed to Samarkand. We've noticed the power of silence in bargaining here... there have been several instances in the last few days where we've just ignored a stated price and begun to walk away or act disinterested, and the price comes down in a hurry. In China hawkers would always scream "you buy" at us... here the English seems to be limited to "mister" followed by a price; I've been here a day and heard that word about 50 times. We're shifting the schedule to an early morning to get as much sightseeing in as possible before the day REALLY gets hot. Today we checked out most of the sites on the outskirts of the city, including the ruins of an ancient observatory built by Timur's grandson (the bottom of a giant sextant is about all we could see); Afrosiab, the site of ancient Samarkand (ruined by Chinggis Khan and rebuilt at the current site), which is huge, overgrown, and looks like it needs a team of well-funded western archaeologists to really have a go at excavating it; an avenue of mausoleums of Timur's family members; and a cathedral mosque from Timur's reign. The latter two were extensively refurbished, making them a lot less interesting; when you can see brand new paint, mortar, tile, plaster, and tin drainage systems on 15th century monuments, it looks more like someone's new garage and they naturally don't feel very authentic or inspiring.