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THE LAST BITES OF CENTRAL ASIA, UZBEKISTAN AND WESTERN KAZAKSTAN
Saturday, Oct 31, 2009 at 00:35
Member - Chris D (Newcastle)
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A Spritely Lady Collecting Water from the Well
The Things You See
Our adventure now sweeps through the final stages of our visit to Central Asia, before we return to Russia. In this chapter we leave Tajikistan for Uzbekistan, with visits to the historical centres of Bukhara and Samarkand. Aiming north for our second entry to Kazakhstan, we visit Turkistan, an old capital of the local region and then the city of Aral on the Aral Sea, that is shrinking through over use of the rivers that used to fill it. Before leaving Kazakhstan we go to Kostanai to pick up a parcel, posted to us by Jess and Gabi some two and a half months ago. The parcel contains vital supplies from
for Ann and Chris.
Morning Tea With Aziz in Bukhara
Bukhara is an ancient city with many interesting buildings and mausoleums still intact or reconstructed. The old city wall remains in part and the houses in the old centre are on streets just two or three metres wide. To see most of the historic sites it just takes a walk around the old city streets, quite a different experience for us to see a historic area so well preserved. We find our way through the narrow streets to the UNESCO carpet weaving centre where
ladies are taught the art of carpet weaving, from spinning and dyeing the yarn with natural dyes through the long process of weaving and finally the carpet is ready for sale. Asking a
fellow for directions we meet Aziz, a teacher at a local college. He is so welcoming and keen to help, he invites Ann and Chris to his home for morning tea, his home is about 400 years old!! Then he insists on guiding us to the other sites in his area, this takes most of the day. It is a real treat to have him explain the highlights of the sites from his perspective. Bukhara is alive with tourists; this is a change for us to see tour coaches and lots of Europeans taking in the sites.
Registran Samarkand Uzbekistan
Registran Samarkand Uzbekistan
Driving north for a day finds us in Samarkand, also a historic centre from the eighth and tenth centuries, many of the historic mausoleums and madrassas in this city have been reconstructed in the recent past. The jewel in the crown of Samarkand is the Registan, a group of three amazing buildings in the centre of the city.
Aral Sea High and Dry
Friendly Locals at Aral Sea
We cross the border into Kazakhstan and head west towards Aral Sea. The landscape is very flat and uninteresting for a few days as we eat up the kilometres heading towards the Russian border again. There are however some points that lift the spirits, such as in the city of Turkistan the beautiful Kozda Akmed Yasaui Mausoleum and the ruined Silk Road town of Sauran.
Ruins at Sauran Kazakhstan
Before we leave Kazakhstan we aim to see the remnants of the Aral Sea. In the 1950’s mighty rivers fed the Sea, then the water began to be diverted for agricultural irrigation, by the three adjoining countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Each year some 30-40 cubic kilometres of water have been diverted. The Sea has now shrunk from its previous surface area of over 1,000 square kilometres to now about 300 sq km and still receding. The previously large local fishing industry has been destroyed and fishing boats are now left rusting high and dry, the changes have also drastically reduced the wild populations of animals, birds and reptiles that previously relied on the Sea. The current Aral Sea shore is some 35km from the old shore line!!
Sorting Beans at Samarkand Market
In mid August Jess and Gabi sent a small parcel to Ann and Chris, to be picked up in Almaty. Unfortunately it arrived a day or two after we had left so our travel consultant David Berghoff has sent it on to Kostanai, a regional capital in western Kazakhstan. We found the local DHL office and received our long awaited parcel of essential goods, including packets of Ryvita, Vita Weets and Minties, tube of vegemite, jar of peanut butter, Cadbury’s chocolate with macadamia nuts, cashews, hand cream and a nail brush all of which are so welcome. We finally receive the parcel in late October.
Pretend Police Cars Don't Fool Many....
Strange But True……..
In Russia service stations you must pay before you put the fuel in the tank.
Crossing a border can mean the landscape changes substantially also.
We have been travelling now nearly six months, camping 75% of nights, only three where we paid a camping fee, each of the three were in National Parks.
Having driven over 30,000km since South Korea, we are yet to see a commercial camping ground.
When car drivers are pulled over by Central Asian police it is customary to shake the officer’s hand before any business takes place and money changes hands.
When entering Uzbekistan it is essential that ALL money is fully declared. Any money not declared on the Customs Form will be confiscated by the Customs Officer when the money is found, and believe us it WILL be found!!! Chris has a sorry tale to tell here.
In Mongolia when going for a tyre repair it is usual for the driver to jack up his own car using the jack out of the boot, remove the tyre with his car tools and roll the tyre in for service/repair. When the tyre is fixed the driver puts the wheel back on himself and is off….. apparently substantial money is saved.
The biggest beer bottle we have seen is in Russia where some brands of beer come in 5 litre bottles, we have avoided buying these.
In Kyrgystan and Tajikistan there is no third party car insurance.
It is almost impossible to buy savoury biscuits in Central Asia, nearly all are sweet.
In some countries the police resort to using life size cardboard police cars to encourage drivers to drive slowly, by our observation to little avail.
In Tajikistan it is possible to buy petrol by the bucket at remote sites.
In Mongolia there are roads that do not really exist as they are just tracks in the sand, but there are still toll booths collecting the toll!!
Read the Fine Print.
The Things You See???
We See Plenty of This Also
A Parcel from Jess and Gabi, Oh Boy!!
The next chapter in our journey takes us through central and western Russia where the standard of roads take a giant leap forward, until then, cheers from us all.
Members Blog Index
PEOPLE AND PLACES IN TAJIKISTAN
FIRST INTERNATIONAL EO TRIP COMING TO A CLOSE, WE HAVE LEFT RUSSIA
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