(30) Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Would you like to see my private minaret?

The shared taxi to Samakand was great until the point where we stopped for gas and one of the men wanted to show me something on his cell phone and it ended up being pictures of graphically naked women.

Arrived in Samarkand, dropped off at a local bus stop. Caught what I thought was a reasonable numbered local bus, and it got me vaguely into Samarkand. And then I walked a looong way to the guest house I planned to stay at. There were other, nicer, options, along the way but I was OK with seeing travellers at this point.

Got into the place, and saw….the Jorma and Aziza, the cycling couple I met in Mashhad (they hadn’t waited too long after her appendectomy!) and Tobias, too! Other characters included two Australian brothers who were motorbiking from South Africa to the farthest northeast in Russia they could get. And an older French man who like to talk about himself as though he is the only person in the world with intersesting travel stories, always had a better story than you about that place that you went, and if he hadn’t been there, it was because it was below him to visit such a place. Other than this man, there are quiet a few interesting travellers here. I’m impressed with all the bikers and cyclists.

I hang out with the Australian brothers during the day, exploring Samarkand. None of us are too bothered to go into paid sites. We circle the main site, the Registan. One of the guards at a side entrance encourages us to bribe him so that we can go up and see his special private minaret. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t meaning to be sexually suggestive, but it was funny all the same.

We enjoy lunch near a large covered but open air market. We explore an interesting cemetery with great tile work.

I run into Julica and her mom. She mentioned a conversation she had with an Uzbek couchsurfing host she met. The topic of religion came up, and when Julica describe how she didn’t believe in God, the young woman was dumbfounded. She described how before she understood that there are different ways to believe in God (e.g. Islam vs. Judeo-Christian) but had never considered that there might not be a God. “I’m going to have to think about this,” the young woman had said.

At the guest house I came across a travel diary in the book exchange. There’s no name in it front. I took it with me to try to unite it with it’s owner at some point in the future.

I went out for late night food with Aziza and Jorma. Had the most interesting looking hotdog ever. Grated carrots and mayonnaise topping. Watched the Netherlands lose in the World Cup. Jorma was devastated. Stayed up late chatting with the Australian brothers.

In the few notes I did make about this segment of my trip, I made reference to how long my toenails are at this point. I had lost my swiss army knife in Mary, Turkmenistan, and I guess they were getting pretty long.

And then, it was back to Tashkent to get my things in prep for getting to Tajikistan.