Wearing out the tourist trail

May 5, 2013

 

6AM. I’m up and feeling good. Good like normal, and ready for the train ride to Samarkand. However, when I went through my mental checklist of my belongings, I realized that I likely left my pocket knife was left in my previous room. I decide that if the door was open,  I would fetch it.

I open the door as quietly as possible, and I see that the person who slept in my position had gone to the bathroom. So, I seized this bit of good luck and stepped over the other occupant and noticed that my knife had been placed next to his cell phone. Before I could create any possible situation, I took it, cinched my bag, and left quietly.

I had time to spare before grabbing public transportation to the train station, so I used the morning light to create new photos. Satisfied with my effort, I made the train easily.

Uzbekistan is quite proud of it’s high speed train that runs from Tashkent tthrough Samarkand, ending in Bukhara. Besides being the most logical option for me, I wanted to try it. I have been on the TGV, the Talis, and the Acela. This was none of those. The engine of the train looked fairly new, but the compartments were simply renovated Soviet sleeper cars. That said, there were flat screens (that I couldn’t figure out how to operate) and nice pleather bucket seats for comfort. I should say now that because 2nd class was sold out, I paid for business class. End the end, the train top speed, that I saw was 170km/hr or so (just over 100mph). That was over a short section, so really, the train was just an express train.

In Samarkand, I found a nice enough place to stay and headed out to see the city. I made the mistake of going to the newer, Russified section of the city first. While it was quite clean and nice with it’s boutiques, parks, and tree-lined streets, it wasn’t very interesting as a tourist. After a pit stop in an internet cafe, I went back to the old city for photographs of the Registon- the square comprised of 3 of the world’s oldest medrassas- and one of the worlds largest mosques, the Bibi-Khanym.

I picked up some food and beer and went back to share and socialise with the other guests. First was an older Dutch couple and then there was the two Flemish guys. It was an enjoyable conversation of travel stories and world politics, fuelled by beer. Then it was time for a cold shower, literally, and bed.

Timur the Great's (Tamerlane's) Mausoleum

Timur the Great’s (Tamerlane’s) Mausoleum

The gilded ceiling (restored) of Timur the Great's Mausoleum
The gilded ceiling (restored) of Timur the Great’s Mausoleum

More decadence in the mausoleum.

More decadence in the mausoleum.

How great was Timur? Check out a map of his conquests.

How great was Timur? Check out a map of his conquests.

The high speed engine.
The high speed engine.

Business class on the 'high speed' train.

Business class on the ‘high speed’ train.

 

The Ulugbek Medrassa inside the Registan. Built in 1420.

The Ulugbek Medrassa inside the Registan. Built in 1420.

 

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