It's hard to know where to start with this album; the ancient cities of O'zbekiston (Uzbekistan) or the stunning landscapes of Kyrgyzstan? We started our trip in Tashkent, a city that was such a surprise; virtually rebuilt after the devastating 1966 earthquake yet there are still some ancient structures in the old city, some (Tsar) Nicholas II architecture, lots of weird and wonderful Soviet era buildings, and more monumental structures than you can poke a stick at. The boulevards are wide, and parks and greenery abound. There are mosques, madrassas and mausoleums - all the so called 'M's' of the Islamic world. It was a great introduction to the history of the region, the Silk Road, and to the ancient cities of Sarmaqand (Samarkand), Bukhara and Khiva and to the desertscapes that have been inhabited by local people and tribes for several millennia. We also travelled around Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan soaking up the amazing views of snow capped mountains, green valleys, glacial fed rivers, and the azure waters of the lake. Throughout both countries our trip had a focus on the unique arts and crafts of the region which meant we had many opportunities to meet local artisans and craftspeople, to see their work, marvel at their skills and ingenuity, and be amazed at how many generations have been engaged in silk production, weaving, felt making, yurt building, ceramics, carpet weaving, and woodwork. Needless to say, much of this work and the people who do it are a feature of our photos, as is the stunning but ubiquitous blue tiles and domes that for us are now synonymous with Central Asia.
We know now that there is still so much more to see and discover in this region, and we are still wondering why it is that we knew so little about it beforehand. It was certainly a huge gap in our education, but one we hope to fill in years and trips to come. Kazakhstan & Turkmenistan, we hear you calling!
Postscript: for the sake of coherence and brevity, the Soviet era buildings and structures, and the mosaics of the same period have not been included in this album. They have however been previously shared on Facebook.
Stunning, Amazing and Incredible Samaqand