August 10th 2016
Published: August 10th 2016
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SAMARQAND.( SAMARKAND) 10 August. 2016 Hot 38c, cloudless blue sky.

Overnight my bike took a flight to Tashkent, but found the journey tiring, so today is resting at the airport before hopefully an early morning flight tomorrow to Samarkand Airport from where hopefully I will collect it. Anxiety levels have reduced, at least momentarily. I am sure that this outcome would not have been achieved without the assertive influence of Mem. Thank goodness you are there to support me.

After receiving that news this morning I set off to explore. The Registan, the historic religious centre founded by the warlord, Amir Timur in the late 13th Century, which is only 500 metres from the hotel. It is a magical site, comprising Madrases and Mosques. The school rooms of the Madrases have been converted to tourist shops. I was encouraged to enter one shop by a 14 yr old girl, who looked about 10. She spoke excellent, fluent English and proceeded to explain to me the intricacies of Samarkand Tapestry. Remarkably interesting made even more so by the story telling. I had told her at entry I was only wandering not looking to buy. No issue and was happy to chat about all things Samarkand. She spoke 3 languages fluently- Uzbek, Russian and English and spoke passable Swedish. She said her father was a linguist who spoke 15 languages fluently!! The difference, hot desert summers and snowbound winters' make!!

Many riders have arrived by taxi! They had decided the scenery was dull, the sun and heat ferocious, and so hopped taxis to town. Met up again with Phil and Ron from the 2014 Silk Road ride, they both departed that trip before me, but like me were keen to complete it, and Jacob, a staff member from North America 2015 ride. Old home week!! Only 14 riders riding through to Istanbul, about half 2014!

After the heat of mid afternoon had passed, I walked a new direction locating a major walking street, lined by upmarket tourist shops. This lead me to DEHQON SIYOB BOZORI, the bazaar or market. It sold an amazing selection of dried beans, seeds, spices, saffron, peppers all of which filled the air with pungent aromas. Asked many times where I was from and when answered most people would answer, ah Melbourne, Sydney, Kangaroo. At least we are known for something. Most people are friendly and seem very conservative. No tattoos here, and the women wear dresses in bright colours, mid calf and a 50's style ( think Happy Days), or a long pant suit style. After the market wandered past a monolithic mosque- BIBI KHARYM KIU-XU, built in the 14-15 centuries. Opposite was a large cemetery, with normal headstones and also large mausoleums, decorated with the green tiled mosque roof dome.

I also purchased a unique Uzbek Whirling Dervish!! The chess sets here are beautiful!!

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