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June 18th 2007
Published: June 18th 2007
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I'm finally exploring some of the Silk Road, I dream of mine for many years. I've had some tastes of the Silk Road in Xi'an and in Turkey, plus I've checked-out some old wiklalas (caravanserais) in Cairo which are not related to the Silk Road, but were used on Trans-Saharan trading routes. But for me, this trip is the real thing! Samarkand is unmatched when it comes to a name representing something isolated, mysterious, and forbidden. And that was in the good old days. Today's version presents as many difficulties for the modern-day traveler. Getting a visa to travel there is enough of a hassle since it requires an invitation. Add to that fact that is it one of only two double landlocked countries in the world (Liechtenstein is the other) and that every country it borders is a tough visa, and you've got one of the least accessible countries on the planet. I've read so much about the visa problems and the red tape that I really feel like I'm cheating. I'm flying in and out plus I used a visa service to secure my entry into the country.

This is turning out to be a very fulfilling year for me. Earlier this year, I traveled to Norway's Lofoten Islands, #2 on my travel wish list. Uzbekistan is #3. In the top spot is Mt. Everest, but that will have to wait until next year when I have more time.

I bought my plane ticket and applied for my visa (used, so all that's left now is planning; unless I don't get my visa for some reason, in which case I'll travel to NYC for a day, go to the consulate, and pay for the one-day service.

I have 8 full travel days in Uzbekistan during my trip there at the end of July. There are really four places I want to go and two other places that I wouldn't mind squeezing in if the opputunity presented itself. The core destinations of the trip are Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, places I've daydreamed about for the better part of a decade. Tashkent is the 4th place since is is where I'll be flying into and because I always like to get a taste of a country's capital city. The two other things I'm interested in are the desolated desert fortresses north of Ugrench and the city of Shakhrisabz, Timur's hometown and the site of his ruined summer palace. I won't sacrifice and of my time in Samarkand, Bukhara, or Khiva for these places, but I may go it time permits.

Tentatively, here is how my trip breaks down...

1 day- Tashkent

3 days- Samarkand

3 days- Bukhara

1 days- Khiva


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