There is no name as evocative of the Silk Road as Samarkand. The city was probably founded in the 5th century BC. A key Silk Road city, it sat at the crossroads leading to China, India and what is now Iran. From the 6th to the 13th century it grew into a city even more populous than it is today.
Today is a day off which means that we spend 80 percent of the day doing preventative maintenance on the car and fixing little things before they become big ones. This is much better than those folks that spend the day trying to rebuild the entire car – amazing how many are in the position and even more amazing how many are ready to run again in the morning.
We are staying at the Afrosiyab Hotel which is not bad but looks better on the outside.
These are some of the lucky (early arrivals) cars that got to park out front – we were in the back next to a very smelly dumpster – oh well.
The view from our balcony wasn’t bad – wish I knew what I was looking at except for the porta-potties in the parking lot.
Apparently Lloyd had misbehaved earlier in the day and felt obliged to stand in the corner of our room. Note that the beds are pulled apart – originally they were together which made him very nervous. Unfortunately, Lloyd got the side with the big dip in the mattress.
The Registan is the center piece of the city. It is an ensemble of majestic medressas (Islamic colleges) built using majolica and azure mosaics. It has been constructed with vast open spaces. The Registan was medieval Samarkand’s commercial center.
The three grand edifices here are among the world’s oldest preserved medresses. The ones on the left and right are for study and the one in the middle is for worship. They have taken their knock over the years due to frequent earthquakes and are a real testament to the incredible craftsmanship of their builders.
The central mosque up close …
The approach to the Registan is also very impressive. If the minarets look a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it is because they are actually built that way. In the event of an earthquake, they will fall away from the buildings – clever.
Back at the hotel, the always troubled Renault is undergoing yet another lobotomy – actually they are only replacing a brake line.
This is the head mechanic on the trip Peter Banham without whom many of the cars would not be running. It is amazing what he can do from the back of his pickup truck.
Peter does a number of these rallies along with his wife Betty. All I can say is that they are wonderful people to do this and must have a marvelous sense of humor – they are never without a smile.
There is a gas shortage here in Uzbekistan with long lines of cars waiting to fuel. Our local agents, Krygz Concepts, apparently rented a gas station so we could refuel without waiting. We felt badly for the locals who no doubt had waited in line for hours but they didn’t seem to mind and were all over the cars with enthusiastic questions – hope this problem ends for them soon.
Tomorrow is another border crossing, this time into Turkmenistan which is supposed to be the most difficult. Our Krygz Concepts agents have assured us everything possible has been done to expedite our crossing – I think that means the appropriate officials have been bribed – we’ll see.
First cars leave at 5am tomorrow and our start time is 6:22 so enough for now.