"What has become of the Silk Road?" Samarkand by John195123
Samarkand Travel Guide: 308 reviews and 908 photos
One of the "Big Three" Silk Road cities, Samarkand suffers none of the ancient ruins, nor offers nary a glimpse of genuine ancient civilization to the weary traveler. Samarkand, a land lost in my memory as a place of sand storms, mystery, a land waiting to be discovered, where history itself has been lost, and with it, treasures of trade.
Picture this: years of grueling training, months of preparation. The Summit is in sight. In the clouds above you, you hear... naw, must be the wind. But there it is again. Laughter at the peak of Mount Treacherous, the world's most dangerous climb. Children's laughter. Two days of blistering approach, four camps with 4,000 crumbly, cliff-side feet of vertical between each, -40 degree nights. Frostbite. Pain. Exhaustion. Eight hours of straight vertical, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their two kids took the gondola, with heat and supplied Oxygen. Yeah, they were going to rent a car, but the tour was so much easier. Now the Summit is crowded with their busload of new "friends". And then Mr. Smith asks you what tour you're on. Sure, you can say you climbed the mountain... they talk as if they really travel, but they know nothing of the real path to the top. They have no idea how to go it alone.
That is the feeling for me of Samarkand, and, indeed, Uzbekistan as a whole. It felt like another Dizney Tour. Uzbekistan was the third country we visited on the Harbin-London overland trip this late Summer/early Fall, 2008 and by far the most touristy. If you're looking for Silk Road of old, it ain't here.
Ok, a modern city is inevitable. It can't stay ancient forever.
But they rebuilt the Registan. Yeah, it's nice to see what it looked like, and I can appreciate the thought, but it's not old any more. It's not real any more. I could build one in my back yard, but it doesn't make it authentic. It was rebuilt to draw more tourism dollars, no doubt, and while that's not a bad reason, and I can't fault them, of course, it isn't what I wanted to see. It isn't the Samarkand of the mind, of history, of lore...
It's the shopping mall built on an old homestead, the parking lot spread over the leveled field.
Many of the sites in Samarkand are thusly rebuilt.
Uzbekistan is for tour groups and armchair travelers. Why? Step off the bus at the major sites and nevermind what's in between- same for reading a book about it and never going. You see the picturebook stuff either way. And for those who think they're intrepid, arriving by any means necessary, with long nights, no language and eating at places sure to give you poop stories, it is nothing more than a sheer disappointment to find that these cities are already done- already set up for the buses, ready to handle the crowds, handling them, and selling souvenirs at tremendous prices.
Family run, this small hotel/Bed and Breakfast is just a short walk from the Registan. They are friendly and offer an... more travel advice
What a place. With a feeling of an upscale western restaurant, the food is good, the decor, well, upscale... The food's... more travel advice
John195123's Related Pages
Samarkand Travel Guide
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