Bukhara to Samarqand, Uzbekistan
Well it was only two days on the road from our rest day in Bukhara to our long awaited double rest day here in famous city of Samarqand, but everyone had to work hard enough and earn there luxurious rest days.
The directions to get to Samarqand were easy, the topography was easy, it was all flat roads and it was hot, but not as hot as some of the 50 deg weather we experienced in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan earlier on in the expedition. It was the headwinds that almost killed everyone. The days dragged out quite a bit longer then usual as the average speed dropped to a mere 15km per hour. Most of the riders worked as a team using each other to their advantages together they would take turns breaking through the headwinds while the others could take a rest by drafting behind the rest of the group. These days provided lots of time to think, if you could only hear your own thoughts, and the cold drinks also tasted better at the end of the day.
The only night spent on the road between the two cities was spent camping in an apple orchard with some cows and donkeys. The ground was chunky and uneven, but after a day of fighting the brutal headwinds, most people could sleep anywhere. Best of all we still had the luxury of Miles cooking, and a fresh cold water tap across the road to shower up with!!
The two rest days here in Samarqand were well utilized by exploring the ancient city and checking out all the historical places we only know of through books and stories. The Registan (Sandy Place) which has been said to be â€œthe noblest public square in the worldâ€ was a hot spot on the list of places to explore. The Registan consists of three huge madrassahs (places of study) colorfully decorated with thousands of mostly blue and green pieces of ceramic. Two of the madrassahs each had a pair of minarets(tall smoke stack like tubes), one on either side, and although you are not allowed up these 33 foot cones, if you go by the name of MAX, you will figure or bribe your way up one!!! There were also spectacular Mausoleums, bazaars and mosques to see as well. You could easily spend four or five days here and not get bored.
We have a few busy days ahead of us as we push closer and closer to China. We will spend two more full days in Uzbekistan and then we will be crossing three boarders in three days, which should be fun logistically!!! Tajikistan, Uzbekistan (again) and Kyrgyzstan here we come!!