October 17, 2012
(Yes, I partly stole that from a poem).
So, anyone up for a trip to Kabul or Tehran?
Another early morning departure, as we had a five hour drive to Samarkand ahead of us. Thankfully we made a few stops along the way to stretch our legs. First, the fish market in Chinoz, where the vendors proudly displayed their catch of the day.
The Syr Darya River
The melon guys didn’t seem to mind the camera at all!
We arrived in Samarkand shortly after 1pm and set out for some light touring after lunch. Our first stop was Gur-e Amir, the mausoleum of Tamerlane, aka Timur the Lame (1336-1405). In the west, Tamerlane isn’t as well known as his hero and role model, Genghis Khan, but his exploits were just as ruthless. From his court in Samarkand, Tamerlane ruled an empire that stretched from Iraq to Western China. In the course of acquiring this empire, Timur’s armies managed to kill some 17 million people (allegedly). He ordered the conquered civilians beheaded and thousands of their skulls stacked in giant pyramids; a classic calling card. And now, throughout post-Soviet Uzbekistan, you’ll find statues dedicated to this “national hero”. Goodbye Lenin, hello Timur. Every nation needs a father (even though Timur was himself a Mongol, not an Uzbek).
Tombs marking the location of Timur and his family members (the actual tombs are in a crypt under the mausoleum)
We made a quick stop at the Registan, which we would return to the following day during further exploration of Tamerlane’s Samarkand.
View from our hotel, the Registan Plaza