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Published: September 21st 2014
Sept 16-18th Turkestan.
We were scheduled to drive from Zhabagvly village thru to Shymkent this morning, but things didn't quite go to plan. The first car reportedly had a dodgy front wheel, so we only made it to the next village where we changed cars and driver, and headed off to Shymkent. Just 10kms along the road this car experienced fairly serious engine failure ie it jerked to a halt with the smell of petrol. The empty looking petrol indicator didn't seem to be the trouble according to the driver as he peered under the bonnet with a lighted cigarette in his mouth ! Eventually they called up a replacement vehicle and we were finally on our way - this time successfully arriving in Shymkent about noon. Shmykent is perhaps best known for Khazackhstan's best local beer called Shymkentskoe Pivo, so we felt obliged to sample a few just to check that this claim was correct. Very nice actually .
We visited the War memorial park loaded with statues and a MIG 19 jet plane on a huge platform, and then crossed road to visit the small 'Museum of Victims of Political Repression'. This was an amazing place that
recounted the tragedy of Soviet repression of the Khazak citizens during the 1930's. Hundreds of thousands were massacred, and millions deported, fled, or were incarcerated. The fact that such an anti-Soviet memorial could be sanctioned by the current Khazak president is remarkable.
Next day, we took a taxi the 170 kms up to Turkestan, where the main sightseeing attraction was the Khazackhstan's greatest architectural monument and most important pilgrimage site - the mausoleum of the first great Turkic Muslim holy man Khoza Akhmed Yasuai. This was built by khan Timur in late 1380's. This was a spectacular building of 34 rooms surround the tomb site. Covered with blue, turquoise and white tiles and huge blue domes , the building was never completed due to the death of Timur in 1405, and the untitled exterior at the front is evidence of that. You can still see the original scaffolding poles that were never used to complete the tiling. But is truely an impressive building both in scale, history, and content.
Alongside is the Mausoleum of Rabiga-Sultan Begum, smaller but equally impressive. Built for the wife of the Khan.
We overnighted at the Edem Hotel in Turkistan, and then
next morning caught the 0948 Moscow to Tashkent train #6 from Turkistan to Tashkent. This turned out to a very nice 4-bed compartment, which we had to ourselves. Only issue on the trip was the nearly FOUR hr delay on the border of Khazackstan and Uzbekistan whilst we were processed thru immigration and customs for both countries. Inspite of lots of warnings about the possible difficulties with Uzbek customs, we flew thru with no issues other than the huge delay. We were met at Tashkent Railway station - finally another COUNTRY #71 - retrieved our tickets for the next leg, and soon found our way onto the right platform and boarded Uzbek Train #58 Tashkent to Urgench departing on the dot at 1930. Again, we scored an excellent two berth private compartment as we settled down for the 22hr overnight journey which would get us to the north west corner of Uzbekistan to start the most anticipated part of the trip - the fabled Uzbek cities of Khiva, Bouhkara and Samarkand.
Tot: 3.135s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 12; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0484s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb