From Samarkand I hopped on an express train westwards to Bukhara. For how poor most of the country is, Uzbekistan has an excellent train system. The fact that most of the region is completely flat doesn’t hurt. So after hurtling along past the desert scrub and some small villages we arrived in Bukhara in no time, once again in the middle of some blazing heat. I found my way to the hostel most popular with foreigners and settled in. I ended up running into some people that I had met earlier on the trip, which was cool. In central asia the tourist trails are pretty well defined and there’s not that many western oriented hostels, so it’s a pretty regular occurrence to run into different people a few times along the way.
Later that afternoon we set off to do some exploring. Right off the bat I really liked Bukhara, it really does have that old town feel to it. While Samarkand is more like a modern city with lots of interesting, well preserved buildings interspersed throughout, Bukhara feels like it’s taking you back in time. It’s a cobweb of dusty alleyways snaking in various directions. The houses are very spartan, mostly made of clay, with bright clothes hanging out to dry, flapping in the breeze. While the place is a dead zone during the day, all the kids come out to play in the late afternoon. You see a lot of the same type of stuff that you would see in Samarkand, but the two cities have a much different vibe.
We ended up finding a rooftop place to eat a fancy dinner ($10 p/p) with some awful Uzbek red wine. I didn’t have enough cash, so I just paid with card, so when the bill came back at almost $20 I realized I had totally forgot that by paying with card they give you the government exchange rate! Fortunately they let me run downstairs and find one of the guys on the street to exchange some dollars to Som at the black market rate. Silly Uzbekistan.
The next day was mostly the same thing, hanging out during the day and then wandering around in the late afternoon. As much as I liked the old cities, they really need more things to do during the day to beat the heat, like a water park or something, maybe a nice air conditioned movie theater, anything! Oh well, what can you do. These Uzbek cities aren't places you'd want to stay around for too long, but they're definitely something different and very enjoyable for two days or so. More shots around town...