Thursday, 23 September 2010

On the Silk Road: Uzbekistan Day 7 Bukhara-Tashkent

The Ark, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
The morning started with a visit to the shrine of Sufi saint Baha al-Din al-Naqshbandi then on to Chor Bakr a necropolis developed around the graves of Khodja Abu Bakr and Imam Abu Bakr Ahmed. After lunch of bread, Uzbek salami and two-tone cheese we walked through a maze of small alleyways and lane to see the Hoha Zaynaddin mosque and its surprisingly large pool, then over to see the Ark which is monstrous and imposing from the outside but unfortunately thanks to the bombing by the Red Army in 1920 is mostly in ruins inside. Restoration is underway and the Coronation Hall will be magnificent once work is complete, that's as long as they can control the vendors who have set up business in there. In front of the Ark is a huge public square called the Registan which was a popular site for executions including those of two British Army officers in June 1842.
We had dinner at the hotel and then it was time to head out to the airport for our Uzbekistan Airways flight to Tashkent. Thank goodness UA has stopped using the old ex-Aeroflot Yaks and Antonovs and the flight, which lasted less than an hour, was in the comfort of an Avro RJ85. After landing we walked across the tarmac in the dark to the luggage shed. Despite the luggage being carried from the plane to the luggage area in a truck that I last saw in an episode of 'The Beverly Hillbillies' the system worked really well. Three guys then haul the bags off the back of the truck and threw them through a window of the luggage shed. There is a luggage ramp that runs from the window to the floor but its only a couple of feet long so if you don't grab your bag in mid air or shortly afterwards it just ends up in a big pile at the foot of the ramp. Despite all this and a crowd of army guys who each had a fold-up bed in the luggage pile, we got our bags in record time and within 10 minutes we were on the bus and heading back to the hotel for the night.

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