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Wednesday, June 5, 2019


My parents and I spent two days in Samarkand.  You can definitely do Samarkand in one day, but the train schedules didn't work out for us to only spend one day.  And also, I don't like touring non-stop and thankfully my parents don't either so we were both happy to take things slow over two days.

The evening we arrived, everyone was tired and so we just went out in search of food.  Our hotel was near the centerpiece of Samarkand, Registan, so on the way back from the (regrettable) restaurant, we happened by Registan at sunset.  It was quite lovely.

The next day we visited a silk carpet factory and my parents got the tour (I'd been there before), complete with a visit to the carpet, making room.  It's always impressive to see how quickly those ladies can tie and cut knots.  I'm amazed that they can keep the intricate patterns straight.  

We also visited the tomb of Amur Timur, which was pretty amazing.  It's always interesting to see where one history's villain is another history's hero.  The ceiling tiles were all made with mulberry bark paper, and so we visited the place where the paper is made.  It is a historical site where they have reconstructed the method that mulberry paper was made back in the day.  We finished the day with a visit to the tomb of the prophet Daniel's arm.  

The next day we started with the necropolis, an area of blue-tiled mausoleums.  I love the tile work in this part of the world, and am constantly impressed with the creativity of patterns of intricacy of designs.  Someday I want a backsplash made from something like them.

We stopped by Bibi Khanum mosque, eating ice cream on the way.  The weather was in the nineties, so ice cream stops were very important.  By this time, everyone was thoroughly tired of Uzbek food, so we found a restaurant online that looked like it would have something other than plov.  The taxi driver was able to find it, and we enjoyed a quiet, air conditioned lunch that didn't have any shashlik on the menu.  

We finished the day with our visit to Registan.  The gold dome is always fairly impressive.  The historical monuments have been heavily restored, as they were crumbling ruins by the beginning of the twentieth century.

The restoration is, as are all restorations, the subject of debate.  Personally, I enjoy the high-quality restoration because it lets me see what the sites were like back in their prime.  Crumbling ruins have a certain Gothic-romance charm, but dazzling painting and intricate tile work inspire the kind of awe that these monuments deserve.

We ended our day with a two-hour trip on the fast train back to Tashkent, having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I was grateful to Brandon for taking the children for the week, as the trip would have not been nearly as enjoyable with six easily bored and easily tired hangers-on.  Some things are just better with just adults.  My parents lugged much heavier suitcases and backpacks, stuffed with the treasures from their visit.  It was a good time.

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