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The Road to Samarkand

UZBEKISTAN | Wednesday, 25 March 2015 | Views [857]

Ruins of Timur's Palace, Shakhrisabz

Ruins of Timur's Palace, Shakhrisabz

FOUR HOURS AND THREE HUNDRED KILOMETERS OF DESERT separate Bukhara from Shakhrisabz.  The birthplace of Timur, aka Tamerlane, is easier to spell than to pronounce.  And if you visit in 2016 it should be wonderful.  But today Shakhrisabz was under construction, urban renewal if you will.  

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   Men at Work

Gold teeth flashing in the sunshine, Mudlova our guide for a few hours, herded us along muddy paths from one unfinished mausoleum to an under-renovation madrassa, past the heroic statue of Timur and to the towering gates of his one-time palace.  She talked non-stop in rapid-fire English, referring to us as “Honored Guest” as she apologized for the construction and regaled us with how beautiful the finished product would be.

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    Tamerlane

We eventually had to cut her short — it was nearly 3PM and we were still two hours from Samarkand — two hours of mountain driving on a potholed road.  But the scenery was spectacular, green alpine meadows, pink pistachio blossoms and snowy peaks.

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   Pistachio blossoms

The Sultan Boutique Hotel is quite a come-down after our stays at Asia Hotels in Khiva and Bukhara.  The location is great for the sights of Samarkand but there isn’t a restaurant or mini-market within walking distance.  Our room is tiny compared to what we have gotten used to and there is only one light.  Under normal circumstances it would be OK but we have paid for lux and this ain’t lux.  

 

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