October 19, 2012
Another five hours of driving today. Visiting all these Silk Road cities necessitates a lot of driving, but I’m not one to complain about a road trip; I’m perfectly content to put my headphones on, choose a playlist, and let the scenery roll by. And an air-conditioned bus certainly beats the camels that previous Silk Road travelers relied upon.
As usual, the long drive was broken up by a few stops along the way. We visited a huge outdoor market located in Mirbozor. I think the locals were quite surprised and amused to see a group of 17 Americans and Canadians pile off a large tour bus. Not your typical everyday occurrence, I’m guessing.
The bizarre itself was an incredible mishmash of Safeway, Home Depot, Walmart, and a food court. Here was nearly every product you might need, all laid out on tarps to protect from the desert dust. Need a bottle of Fanta? An axe? Perhaps some homemade sour cream? The market was vast, and I could have spent hours here, but our visit was a quick half hour. Much like the market in Khujand, we were asked “Otkuda, otkuda?” “Ya iz Ameriki” “Ah, Amerika”.
Tasty Uzbek carrot salad. This stuff is great!
And then back on the bus for some more driving, with a quick stop at the Rabati Malik Caravanserai in the Navoi Province. Built in the 11th century, this caravanserai provided protection and shelter to Silk Road travelers. It was composed of walled-in courtyard lined with merchant stalls. Here, travelers could purchase supplies, feed and water their animals, and relax safely within the confines of the caravanserai, without fear of being attacked by bandits.
All that remains of the interior
Water reservoir that supplied cool drinking water to the caravanserai.
Before arriving in Bukhara that evening, we visited the studio of the Narzullayev family, who specialize in the Gijduvan school of ceramics. There are various schools of ceramics throughout Uzbekistan (i.e. Rishtan, Tashkent Gijduvan) each with their own preferred colors and designs. The art of ceramics is passed down from family member to family member, and the Narzullayev family is currently headed by its sixth generation of master craftsmen and women.
Not only potters, also musicians!
Uzbek suzani embroidered by hand
We made it to Bukhara by early evening and would be spending the next two days there.