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The Mongol Rally Guys

19 Aug, 2009

Bukhara

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next morning we all parted ways and struck out for the walled merchant city of Khiva. We drove along the main road looking for an off-shoot heading south towards the city but were unable to find what we were looking for. After asking multiple people we were still not sure where the road was and we decided to just skip it and head on towards Bukhara. This involved a multi-hour drive through a wide Kyzylkum desert that separates eastern and western Uzbekistan. It was quite hot out, and we were thoroughly soaked in sweat and covered in sand by the times we reached the city limits.

Pulling into the first roundabout we happened across The Alchemists yet again–they had left a while before us but it seems that we had caught up to them. We decided to join them in doing some sightseeing and finding a place to stay. The first place we stopped off at was Abdullah Khan Medressa, a former place of learning until it was abandoned in the 20th century. It now stands, un-restored, opposite of Modari Khan Medressa. There were two old men outside playing backgammon and one of them offered to let us inside the medressa for the equivalent of $1. We agreed and went inside to find a large open courtyard adjoined by many rooms. We were totally free to explore the grounds, so we peeked inside the crumbling rooms and climbed the staircase to the roof, which gave us a nice view of the city. There were no other tourists there, so it was quite an interesting experience to be alone inside of the vast structure.

We headed onwards, eager to book a room and take our first shower in a few days. We got a bit lost finding our way to the old part of town where many of the hotels were located (many one-way streets and dead ends) but a gentleman we asked for directions kindly offered to show us the way by driving us to our destination. Arriving in the center square of the old city Collin and Mark set off to find the exact location of the hotel while Ramsey and I had a couple Uzbekistani beers in the outdoor plaza.

We ended up staying at the Komil B&B, a very nicely converted old-style house set close to the center of the old town. There we met up with Charlotte, an archeologist from Tennessee, studying at the University of Michigan, based in Macedonia, and working on a dig in Termiz–south of Bukhara. She was doing some solo sightseeing before her dig commenced. We also met up with Greg, a twenty-four year old from the London area who was six months into his sixteen-month solo bike ride from the UK to Australia. Everyone got cleaned up and we headed off to dinner on the terrace of the nearby Minzifa Restaurant, where I tried some of the local specialty, Plov (rice mixed with meat and vegetables). We eventually ended up going to a local nightclub, where we met back up with the Irish and Danish teams who were staying at the hotel next door. Collin wasn’t feeling too good and had to leave a bit early, but the rest of us hung out there until 3:00AM or so and then walked back to our respective hotels.

The next morning Collin was in bad shape. He had a fever, stomach problems, chills–you name it. The probably cause was him brushing his teeth with the local tap water the previous night. He was pretty much incapacitated, so I left him to sleep it off while I did some sightseeing around town. The other teams had left for Samarkand that morning as they had schedules to stick to, so I was on my own. I happened to meet up with Greg again in the hotel lobby, who was sitting with the staff and family that ran the hotel in a 30th birthday celebration for the owner’s son. I was invited to join and had some cake to celebrate the occasion. After that Greg and I decided to team up and check out the city for the rest of the day. Walking around there were many Mongol Raly teams from all over (including an Italian team that I had met with at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border a few days prior) and we stopped to chat with them all, thereby not accomplishing much sightseeing. We ended up dining at the same place as the night before, Minzifa.

The next day Collin felt better. We had breakfast at the hotel after which I went out to meet up with Greg at a local hat-seller’s booth. He was arranging to ship some things back with a local that he had met who was studying in the UK (who was a friend of the hat maker’s son). We spent a bit of time there talking with the son and his mother, and as it turns out we both ended up buying black lamb-skin hats for our upcoming journey to the Pamir mountains. After that I made my way to a local barber shop for my much anticipated haircut (I had wanted to get one since the UK), which I received for the princely sum of $2.50. Greg and I met up again, went back to the hotel to pick up Collin, and proceed to have lunch at a local family’s house. A guy had approached us the night before and that afternoon multiple times asking if we would like to visit his house for dinner, and we finally relented and accepted his offer. The lunch wasn’t anything special (spaghetti and some sides), but it was a nice change from restaurants and I’m sure it was a nice bit of additional income for the family. After that we said goodbye to Greg and left for Samarkand.

It would have been nice to have more time in Bukhara–it really interested both of us, with the old city streets and variety of historical sights. Thanks to Lola and the rest of the staff at Komil for making our stay a great one.

Pictures have been posted in the gallery.

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    Synopsis

    In the summer of 2009, two guys from Metro Detroit traveled 10,000 miles from London to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in an effort to raise money to assist underprivileged Mongolian families in becoming self-sufficient.

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