What tales we have to tell!
Our onward flight from Istanbul to Osh (Kyrgistan) was cancelled so we had to wait for the next one. We were therefore forced to stay for 2 days in Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines in the Radisson Hotel. An unexpected bonus at the start of the trip!
The only problem was that we lived out of hand luggage for 3 days which challenged Lil’s medication programme
Still, we’re both fine and keeping extremely happy and well, despite the lack of available alcohol, apart from the odd shot of vodka if we’re feeling brave.
We’ve seen a huge variety of terrain from lush orchards irrigated by the Amur Darya (Oxus) River to scrubby desert, to sandy desert, to snow covered mountains at the edge of the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains, to lakes that have disappeared because of over-irrigation and chemical fertilisers. These leave a salty, white residue which shines in the sun.
In following parts of the Silk Route we have visited amazing places such as Khiva and Bukhara. Samarkand comes later. These include ancient fortresses, mud brick city walls, huge squares with mosques, minarets and madrassehs with amazing ceramic decoration in turquoise, blues and whites and even the so-called Louvre of the desert with an outstanding collection of avant-garde Russian paintings 1920-30.
Inevitably we’ve been round potteries, woodworking and metal workshops as well as the wonderful textiles in cotton, silk or a mixture of the two.
Even in the last 2 weeks the greenery and flowers are exploding into life and we saw some wonderful pink, yellow and purple flowers in the desert which was very exciting. We’re off to the mountains next to go walking and flora-spotting. It seems that staying in a yurt is part of this experience. We’ll see!
We’ve been staying in B&Bs which have been far more civilised than we expected. There have been problems with water supply and intermittent electrics but that’s manageable. Breakfasts are challenging with greasy fried egg, frankfurter, rice & potato as one course, followed by hard bread with rose petal sauce (jam) and curd cheese.