Wednesday, April 8, 2015

First Glimpses of Bukhara.

Lyab-i-Hauz.  A really pleasant place to unwind from a long day's drive.

We arrived into Bukhara around 5p today. I was so excited to be here, there was no way I would not see a bit of the place before nightfall. Thankfully, Pat is ever so energetic and is always ready to head out and explore a place.

Our plan was to walk around a bit and then have dinner at a restaurant that Shavkat recommended to us - it's located just around the corner from our hotel.


We took the pedestrian only thoroughfare, figuring that would lead us further into the heart of Old Bukhara.  It was perfect time for a pre-dinner stroll.  Surprisingly, it was a pretty quiet place. 


In less than a block's walk, we had reached a place that I immediately recognized from my pre-trip planning - Lyab-i-Hauz.  The whimsical metal statue of Nasruddin Hodja was the first thing I saw.   He's a very popular statue.  I told Pat I wanted to have a photo of me taken next to him but there was a never ending stream of people waiting their turn.  I finally decided it was more fun to capture a photo of these guys taking a selfie than it was to have a photo of me.


Nasruddin Hodja, in all his whimsy, stands in front of Nadir Divan-Beghi Madrasah.  As we walked past the madrasah, we heard the strains of traditional Uzbek music.  I wanted to find out where it was coming from so we followed the music.  Eventually, we ended back up at the wooden front doors of the madrasah.  Peeking in through the gap, I could see dancers and tourists seated at tables around them.  It was obviously a dinner dance performance of some sort.  Pat and I made a mental note to find out more information from our guide tomorrow.  We've yet to attend a dance performance and we really want to before we leave Uzbekistan.

Nadir Divan-Beghi Madrasah, situated on the eastern side of Lyab-i-Hauz.

Phoenixes on the portal of Nadir Divan-Beghi Madrasah

Lyab-i-Hauz is a popular meeting spot for tourists and locals.  Because there are no cars, there were plenty of young kids running around - it was nice to hear their joyful laughter.


On two sides of the pool are restaurants and cafes.


On another side, there was a bit of an odd art installation.  One was a small caravan of camels led by a shepherd.



At the tail end of the camel caravan was the stump of a dead tree along with a plastic stork standing atop one of the old branches.  I'm sure there's some sort of significance to the tree and the stork but there was no English sign to explain it.


There are two madrasahs and a khanaka located around Lyab-i-Hauz but none of them were open so all we could was take a few photos from the outside.

Nadir Divan-Beghi Khanaka.



From Lyab-i-Hauz, we continued along the pedestrian only thoroughfare which was lined with shops and restaurants.


Plenty of places to pick up a souvenir!  Uzbekistan is rich with interesting handicrafts.  I am in my element here and I have a feeling I will be bringing quite a few items home with me.  My only constraint is that I don't have a lot of room in my suitcase.....although I did bring along my collapsible tote :-) 

Perhaps I will bring home an Uzbek instrument??  You have to admit, they do make for pretty wall art!

We were heading for a domed archway.  The moment we stepped foot inside, I recognized it.  It was Toki Sarrafon - one of the Bukhara's famed trading domes!  In the days of the Silk Road, Toki Sarrafon was where the money changers worked.  Today, it's filled with shops.  Today, I was not in the mood to buy anything - I really wanted to just get a better sense of what there is to buy.  I already have a few items in mind and I've been in Old Bukhara for less than an hour.  I am in trouble! :-)

Toki Sarrafon.

Okay, maybe some metal pitchers or textiles to bring home??

Toki Sarrafon.

We exited Toki Sarrafon through one of the side exits.  There were just a handful of shops.  We decided to stroll past them.  I didn't get far before I stopped to watch a young man adding strokes of color to a miniature painting.  One look at the painting and his work and I decided I wanted to buy it.   The painting wasn't finished though and I didn't have any money on me so I told him I would come back tomorrow to take a better look at it.  He said he would have it finished in a half hour and I could get it then.  I repeated that I would come back tomorrow.  I'm sure he didn't believe as I walked away but I will go back.  I really want that painting.

By now, the sun had dropped below the horizon.  It was getting dark and we were getting hungry.  We decided it was time to head to the restaurant for dinner.


We had dinner at a place called Chinar which seemed to be popular with both locals and tourists. The food is traditional Uzbek and the prices are reasonable.  Best thing for us is that it's located just around the corner from our hotel.  It was a quick dinner.


Tomorrow, we have a full day of sightseeing so I want to be well rested.  I am calling it an early night tonight.

Goodnight from Bukhara!