The Bro's - Steve & John Clearwater


The Bro's - Steve & John Clearwater

Asia » Uzbekistan » Samarkand October 10th 2014

Oct 2-4 Samarkand We took the 0840 fast train called the Sharq from Bukhara to Samarkand. Excellent trip in 'business class ' for just $13 for the three hr trip, nice three seat compartment for the two of us. After cuppa of tea and a few bickies, we set off to explore a couple of nearby monuments. First was the Gur Emir - an amazing 15thC mausoleum built to house the body of Amur Timur, their famous leader of the time who raided and conquered most of the surrounding countries during a 9 yr rampage from 1386 to 1395. This mausoleum had the most brilliant tiled domed ceiling one could imagine and contained the tomb of Timur and five of his family, including Ulleg Bek. Next morning, we set off to walk to the Registan - ... read more
Shah I Zinda avenue of Mausoleums
7thC Fresco in Afrosiab museum
Ullug Bek Medressa

Asia » Uzbekistan » Bukhara October 2nd 2014

Sept 29 - Oct 1st Bukhara Next three days were all about seeing the sights of Bukhara. Bukhara has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the first by Chinggis Khan in 1222, and the last by the Soviet Red Army in 1920. But there remains a bunch of spectacular buildings comprising Mosques, Minarets, Madrassahs, Mausoleums, Trading Domes, Palaces, and the inevitable bazaars and retail outlets. Notable buildings include the Nodir Devan-Began madrassah , the Kaylon Mosque and minaret, the Lybai-Haus, the Ark (palace ) and the Bolo Khan mosque. Each trading dome specialised in one specific commodity, one was jewellery, another money changing, and a third was hats. We plotted our progress on our maps, and by the end of two days we had 'done the lot'. Trying to photograph each of them in the best ... read more
Bukhara - Chor Minor mausoleum
Bukhara -Kalon Minaret
Bukhara - Sarrafon Trading Dome

Asia » Turkmenistan » Mary October 1st 2014

Sept 27 - 28 Mary/Merv This morning we were set to visit Gonur Depe, an ancient settlement that dates back to 7000BC !!! A two hour journey from Mary in a 4WD vehicle, to Gonur regarded by the Russian archaeologist Sarianidi who discovered the site in 1971 as 'one of the greatest civilisations on the world', this site was the birthplace of Zoroastrianism. There is evidence of four fire temples on this huge site which is surrounded by city walls. There is some limited excavation going on which has revealed an astonishing scale of housing, temples, palaces, kitchens, pottery firing ovens. By 3000BC, this civilisation had moved they think because of the changed river direction which left the area barren. We were amazed at the lack of protection as it was possible for us to walk ... read more
Merv -Erk Qala 6thC Achaemenid city
Merv - Domed roof of Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar
Gonur Depe - horse Skelton fossilised

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat September 30th 2014

Sept 24 -26 Turkmenistan Early morning start from Nukus to the old cementry near the Turkmenistan border, the Mizdakhan cemetery. Inhabited from the 4th BC until 14th AD, Mizdakhan continued to be a sacred place with tombs being placed here until the 20thC. Was an interesting collection of tombs dating back to 10thC , and some pretty spooky mausoleums to explore, some underground and still containing their ancient sarcophagus's. We made the border crossing with no issues, other than the barking guard dogs, and the 1km walk in no-mans land between the two guard posts. Got our Turkmenistan visa on arrival - country no. 73 - so that was a relief after reading about all the potential dramas that can occur on this border. Our customs 'interrogation' was limited to "do you have guns? , and ... read more
Turabeg complex Konye Urgench
Wedding 'place' Ashgabat - biggest in the world
Independence statue Ashgabat

Asia » Uzbekistan » Karakalpakstan » Nukus September 28th 2014

Sept 22-23 Khorezm Forts, Nukus Come Monday morning, and we departed Khiva and headed out into the Khyzlkum desert to explore the ruins of the ancient forts called Elliq-Qala (fifty fortress). Our destination was the Ayaz Kala desert Yurt camp on the edge of the desert. On the way, we visited two forts, Guldurson-Qala - a huge 1stC fort and Koy Krylgan-Qala - a 4thC circular fort that was a pagan temple and observatory. Both had the city walls intact to varying degrees, and some evidence of houses and buildings. Eventually arrived at the Yurt Camp, settled in, had lunch, and then set off to explore the huge 6thC Ayaz-Qala over the road -almost complete mud walls, it is actually three forts all connected. We were able to walk all over these historic sites at will, ... read more
Cotton picking Uzbekistan
Ayaz Kala
Cotton pickers

Asia » Uzbekistan » Khiva September 26th 2014

Sept 19-21 Khiva Sept 19th. Over 1000kms of train ride from Tashkent to Urgench through mostly barren empty desert, few camels, bit of dry tussock, but mostly just nothing. Eventually arrived in Urgench, where we negotiated a short taxi ride to Khiva for 20,000 Soms discovering the weird nature of the Uzbek currency - at about 3,000 Soms to the dollar. Changing a $100 note into Soms results in a huge 'brick' of notes as the dominant note is just 1,000 Soms (about 30c). So everyone is walking around with huge lumps of cash - much too large to fit in a wallet ! Paying for anything is a real exercise in lengthy counting ! Ancient Khiva had a reputation for barbaric cruelty, slave caravans, and terrible journeys across inhospitable deserts. The historic heart of Khiva ... read more
Juma mosque and minaret
The unfinished Kala Minaret

Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan » Shymkent September 17th 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 ... read more
Yasaui Mausoleum
Yasaui Mausoleum
Yasaui Mausoleum

Sept 14 and 15. had a great train ride in a 2 bunk sleeper compartment on Kazakh Railways on train #33 leaving Almaty 2 at 2133 and arriving on the dot at Tulkibas station at 0927. Was meet by our guide for the 2 days and a Russian made Lada Niva 4WD jeep, so roared off to our home stay. The Asku - Zhabagvly Nature Reserve is one of the largest Nature Reserves in Khazakhstan at 13000 sq kms, and 'allegedly' is the home to a vast number of birds, and animals including bears, ibex, marmots, fixes, wolves, goats, boars, etc. It is crushingly dry and this excludes weeds that simply can't hack the conditions. Lots of plants,biodiversity is immense 1,400 flowering plants.....some surprising...the clear ancestor of our beloved Rhubarb for example. A few remaining flowers...many ... read more
Mountain Erebus butterfly
Berberis berries
Original Rhubarb

Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan September 10th 2014

Sept 10th. After a very pleasant flight on Air Astana from Bishkek to Almaty, we arrived at an excellent Guesthouse called 'Guesthouse on Sadoyva' ( highly recommended ). Almaty sightseeing was the plan for today, so off we went first to see the Russian state puppet theatre where we were able to watch a Puppet show. Quick jaunt around the main shopping bazaar called the Green market where we were able to resist any purchases. Next door to the bazaar was the Central mosque - a recently built mosque that had stunning blue mosaics on the domes. The centrally Panfilov park is beautiful, and dominated by the candy coloured Russian Orthodox Zenkov Cathedral. Built in 1904 entirely of wood (even the nails were made if wood), the Cathedral was one of the few large Tsarist-era structures ... read more
Impressive Russian War memorial statue Almay
Shimbulak Ski resort
Arasan Bathhouse Lobby Almaty - sorry inside photos are all X rated !!

Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Yssyk Kol September 7th 2014

Sept 7th - left Tamga and headed around the southern shores of Lake Issyk Kol. We passed Kadji Sai - the town that until recently was unnamed due to the presence of a Uranium mine and extraction facilities. Long since closed, there are still radiation issues and the mine is banned from visiting. Finally we reached the small village of Bokonbayevo where we had arranged to see the Eagle Hunter show. Turned out to be a private show just for us, and the 'eagle man' turned up with 3 birds in the boot of his car - two huge Golden Eagles, and a smaller Falcon. Plus one worried looking white bunny rabbit ?! After a bit of a show and holding of the giant birds, they released the terrified bunny at the bottom of the valley, ... read more
The moment the bunny knew he's in trouble !
Light tea anyone ?
Eagle guarding his prey

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