Friday, 16 January 2015

Memories of Uzbekistan

We spent ten days in Uzbekistan in late May and early June.  It's eight months later and we are in New Zealand as I review photos and remember our time there.  By the time we reached Uzbekistan, we were used to desert and summer temperatures.  At the time, Uzbekistan felt so civilized and with all the luxuries we had not had since Turkey.  In reality, Uzbekistan is a police state and we were tightly controlled (we had to stay in accepted hotels and keep our proof of where we had been to exit) but it was that "iron fist in velvet glove" approach.  Our guide was excellent at providing the lovely side of his country.

What I remember is exploring the four silk road cities - each one a bit different from the other.  The markets were a delight of fascinating items and shop keepers were friendly and not overwhelmingly pushy like we grew used to in later countries.

Uzbek money.  This was about CAD 100.  In the tourist markets,
merchants were pleased to accept USD because there was a booming
black market and nobody changed at the official rate.

Our hotel in Kiva had these gorgeous textiles on the walls.
Locally made and by hand.

The old silk road towns have actually been majorly restored.
In a few places you could see the original buildings.
Bec, our guide, talked about the fact that the restorations done by the
Russians with modern techniques are falling apart.  Now what is happening
is research into how to reproduce the old methods that have
survived (in some places ) more than a thousand years.

This lady made my sun dress on her machine in the back of the shop.
Cotton from the Fergana Valley but fabric woven and printed in Kiva.

Dining al fresco on traditional food.

Poet, philosopher, mathematician.  The cities of the
silk road were highly advanced when Europe was still in the
dark ages.  Hard to believe when you see how primitive
conditions are along the way.

Antique jewelery from the 10th century.  It would be
right at home today. 

Camel for the tourists.  He had been puffed and buffed and thought
quite highly of himself.

Alicia trying to decide if she could fit this hand crafted
bed into Calypso.

Final stages in carpet making - trimming the fibres and giving it a good brush.

The shop manager with my quilt square to be.
 These were samples for full sized carpets
And embroidered with naturally dyed silk fibers
We had just negotiated that I would purchase some of
their waste silk threads.
Carpet weaving

Inside one of the mosques that has been left essentially unrestored
so you can see what it was like. Each of the posts was
slightly different and some were carved.  The bottom
bit is to help protect the building from earthquakes.

Another bit of what Kiva looked like before
restoration started. 

Singer sewing machine

Water is in short supply in Uzbekistan.  This is the Amu Darya
which starts in Afghanistan and heads toward Turkmenistan.
It used to end at the Aral Sea (which has disappeared due
to intensive irrigation)

Look carefully in the desert and you will find wee plants

Cool idea throughout Asia.  No left turn lanes on the highways.
Instead, there were places where you could do u turns
and go back to turn without crossing traffic.

Bukhara.  The sultan showed his wealth and power by
building a lake in the middle of the desert.  We sat over
dinner and watched wedding parties have photos taken
here.  Brides in western white fluffy dresses.  Grooms in formal

The artisan who created my embroidery scissors and
also knives for Cal, Kyle and Kier.  Using the
skills of long ago to create swords.

How to deal with babies in the desert.  Babies were strapped into
their cradle and the little wooden tubes (hand carved) were
placed over their penis so that urine went onto the ground rather
than making bedding wet.  Pretty cool idea in a land where water is
precious.  The gadget for girls was similar.

Fortress important in the Great Game.

Mausoleum and some of its interior decorations.  It was
saved from destruction by Ghengis Khan because the local people buried
the building and made it to look like a hill.

I bought an ikat scarf for Kati from this merchant.
It was hard to just buy one thing.

This lady was an instructor in the local college in Susani (the type of embroidery)
and we spent a lovely half hour talking about all the different items she had
for sale.  Some hers and some her students.
The quality of the embroidery was unbelievable and she had started learning
from her mother and grandmother when she was 5.

We were old hands at the "please, photo".  Turns out this group were all locals
so we were the entertainment.


Workers cleaning the paths with straw brooms.  They were
"immigrants" from Tajikistan just to the south.  They might
have lived here for generations, but were still not considered

Trying on an 18th century burka.  First the
mesh net to cover the face.  Woven horse hair
felt like the screens we put on our windows

From the front

And the back

With Bec

Odyssey group (most of us)

Tamerlane is referred to with great respect here.

There is a serious problem finding diesel fuel in Uzbekistan.
Lots of natural gas and most cars run on that.  We had
a serious problem between Samarkand and Tashkent, but Bec
made a few calls and we did a bit of a detour
and voila.

Our hotel in Tashkent.  This fellow from the hotel was
enchanted by the truck and the idea that we had come so far.
Yes, we exchanged photos.

Taxi convoy to Fergana.

Our taxis were the pride of their owners.  This one had hand
crocheted seat covers to keep them clean.

Creating silk using traditional methods.  I was fascinated.
Everyone else humoured me.

Creating ikat fabric step one.  Winding the warp threads for
140 meters of fabric.

Then it is dyed to create the pattern

Weaving.  This lady had 7 pedals that she was dancing on to
create the pattern

Yes, this is what you think it is.  One of our loo stops.

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