Saturday, February 05, 2005
My butt now rests in Samarkand, another ancient city in Uzbekistan. Another fascinating place and for once, I had great weather to wander around and take pics in. Sunny, clear blue sky, almost warm (which means sweat was starting to form under my 2 shirts, fleece and large jacket)...good stuff. More pics to download later.
And right now, I am flying solo. The bus from Bukhara to Tashkent dumped me (unceremonioiusly of course) on the side of the road somewhere outside of the city this morning at ~2am. Nothing around with the exception of one taxi. Now that, is having no bargaining power. In the middle of nowhere, no idea where you are, nothing around but fields and a couple trees, cold, dark.....and one taxi. The guy ripped me a new one and then tried to get 50% more when he dropped me off. R would have been proud-we argued until he left. And since he dropped me in front of the nicest hotel in town (telling me, in Russian hand gestures, that is was in fact cheap) I had to roam the streets until 3:30am looking for my chosen hotel wondering how safe the streets actually are and hoping no cops would cruise by (bribing at 3am on no sleep can't be easy). Don't worry, I made it and was up by 8:45 and bumming around the city.
Oh yeah-no sis. She stayed on said bus and continued on to Tashkent.
What does this mean? I am back to having vocal conversations with myself. Not a problem, as everyone stares anyway (how a tourist is still such a spectacle in this very touristy city is beyond me). It also means that I am paying way too much for everything. The taxi, the hotel (though I bargained the guy down and got a free breakfast out of it. And the brekfast is enough food for bfast, lunch, and a semi-dinner. Depending on how much bread and raisins I gank unseen before leaving the table) the oranges and non (Uzbek for bread)(the bread here is the best! Aren't you jealous, sis?) I bought at the market, even the sites (B got us into many for free or much discounted in Khiva). Which sucks. Might have to change more money before leaving to ensure an adequate amount to make it to my final destination in tashkent when I get there. Donations or money owed me are appreciated.
Overall though, a beautiful place. I 'bribed' a cop at the main complex to climb one of the minarets (tower) and get a view of the city. Spectacular! Mountains, domes, fancy stuff, power lines, it was great! Since it was early in the day no smog or haze had descended so the pics should be pretty good.
The bad news about the above paragraph: my little climb (not that high, really. Maybe a couple hundred feet?) left my legs cramping. By the time my feet were back on the ground, my quads were cramping. In fact I think they might be sore now. Pathetic. I guess eating poorly, eating very little, and bowel issues don't add up to good health, eh? I laughed, but then sat down and cried, bemoaning my fate over some discarded rice laying on the ground.