Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 3

Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan

We were awoken around midnight by the caretaker and at first I thought he was angry. He told us to come up on the porch and then he showed us the inside of the mosque and asked if we wanted to sleep inside or out on the carpets on the porch. Again, great hospitality towards travellers. We chose the porch and spent the night on the carpets with our foamys on top. In the morning we headed to Samarkand, another great city on the Silk Road. We found a beautiful mausoleum that we walked around and then a complex of palaces and other buildings where we sat in a park and ate half a watermelon each for breakfast. We then searched around for an internet connection eventually ending up at an internet cafĂ© where Calen was able to upload the latest blogs and pictures. From Samarkand we headed to Toshkent and then Andijon where we spent the night camped out near a farmer’s field. This was in the Fergana valley a lush and fertile area which helped Uzbekistan establish its culture. In the morning we continued on toward the Kyrgyzstan border stopping at a market for some fruit and eating along side of the road. In the afternoon we stopped in a small town that was having a festival with lots of rides for the kids, women dancing together and a great assortment of food. We enjoyed a lunch of plov a traditional Uzbek dish of meat and peppers and rice all mixed together and then finished up with somsa a pastry wrapped confection of meat and onions. The food here is fantastic. The people also continue to amaze us with their generosity and hospitality.

We arrived at the border around noon and within 1 hour we were on our way. The Kyrgyzstan border was the easiest yet and all of the border guards and military guys were all very friendly. Soon enough after changing some money into the local currency we found the road towards Jalalabad. It took us about 3 hours to get to Jalalabad and we were really looking forward to the hot springs and massages that our guide booked talked about. Unfortunately the guide book isn’t any good at providing the local names and locations of these attractions. We tried to ask people and demonstrate with sign language that we were looking for a bath and massage and eventually we ended up at the local pool, not at all what we had in mind. Luckily a young girl at the pool spoke enough English to be able to decipher what we were looking for and gave us the name and general direction to where we wanted to go. We did find the place after some searching but we were too late for the massage, it was already closed. We were however shown to the tubs. This place used to be an old Soviet era sanatorium and as we walked through it we were reminded of every movie depiction of an insane asylum. The walls were all covered in blue tiles, the floor was concrete and here were these enormous claw foot tubs lined up one after another with blue tile walls dividing them. An old lady turned on the taps and showed us where to get undressed and then we were each offered a tub of hot mineral water. After not bathing for the last few days in this hot humid weather this was just what we needed. Forget the horror movie depictions of the place, we were in heaven. We over stayed our welcome thinking that we had 10 more minutes when in fact it was supposed to be 10 minutes total so we washed up got dressed and headed back top the car. We are now camped out beside a river alongside the road. The car has the cover on it so it doesn’t stand out and Calen and I are ready to hit the hay.

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