Day 42 - Sat 26 Apr 08
Up at 08:00 for another big breakfast. The hotel has filled up with a group of Italian tourists, and a local football team! Wandered off down to see the Mausoleum I didn't see yesterday. Saw Sasha the taxi driver and the guard at the Registan who got me up to the top of the minaret on the way down there. Got into the tombs for 2000 (they wanted 3800). After a quick look around caught a mini van up to the station to await my train to Bukra. Got chatting to a tour leader (Fiona) who was heading off the Bukra to pick up her group.
The audio visual treat on the train today is a video of someone's 60th wedding anniversary party. It lasted three hours. the train arrived early, and seems it left a half hour late that was some going. Bukra is railway station is a bit like some of the airports that the budget airlines fly to - nowhere near the city. So I had to catch a taxi 16km into the centre. The taxi driver was very keen on me trying some of his hotels, and I looked at a few, but they were on the pricey side ($40). In the end I found a LP one and got two nights for $35! While I had a tame taxi driver I decided to book him for the trip to the border we eventually settled on $25 for that. Well it is a bit of a trip.
The hotel is interesting with all the rooms coming off a central circular open air courtyard. The room is small but I have a private shower and toilet.
Dump my stuff and head off down town. Bump into Fiona had sat down and had a drink with her while watching the locals do their stuff. Headed off for a stroll. There's a very large minrate to climb (maybe tomorrow), and managed to have a run in with one of the local street traders, a young(ish) girl who was pissed because she couldn't guess my nationality. I fear that there are too many vendors trying to sell to much rubbish to too few tourists. Every stall sells the same old stuff. You can't even buy any silk here.
The trading halls here are beautifully cool due to their thick walls, there much be a 10 degree difference in temperature between inside and outside.
Walked up past the Ark, a huge fortified city within a city and spotted the old soviet water tower. The LP says that you can climb up it. There were four old boys playing cards at the bottom, I handed over 100s. It's a total open structure made from metal bars with a spiral stair case in the centre. Going up wasn't too bad. That got me to the main platform (which I guess in past times actually held the water), but then there was another set of external steps heading up to the top. I got a few photo's and then headed down, which wasn't nice as you could feel the whole thing shaking under each step.
Obtained some provisions for supper from a shop and then headed back to the hotel.
Popped out in the evening for a quick walk.