He finally caught up with me. The great Timur Lenk. Did I really think that I could get away with wandering around his most precious Bukharan jewels without having to answer for it? His point exactly… now it is time to pay. Without using too colourful a language, let’s just say that I spend four hours of the night -that I would like to have back- in the bathroom. Fighting fire with fire I prepare for today’s excursions by stocking up on loads of tissue paper and devouring a hefty dose of nasty pills, although that deep down I know that they will not help much. I am on Timur’s turf now, and I have to play by his rules. His first rule is: You lose.
Today’s schedule covers the major Bukharan sites we did not visit yesterday, and some of them are not quite as rewarding. Even the imposing Ark fortress fails to inspire me and falls short when comparing to the incredible lot of places we saw yesterday. Instead I dedicate more time to drool over the exotic beauty of the legendary Soviet carpark. Things improve at the odd looking Chor Minor mosque, with its four stylish (and fake) minarets. To get there we walk through some peaceful neighbourhoods, empty dusty streets, the lone stray dog poking through some trash, a pair of turkeys resting in the shadow from a small bush, and no tourists in sight. Pure bliss! Our last stop before lunch is the Nakshbandy complex which is full of life and people, but as the group starts taking photos of old white bearded men left, right and forward I feel embarrassed by the behaviour. We have a late lunch at the hotel but I can’t really find any joy in eating, instead cautiously poking on my plate. A lot of the small talk around the table concerns what is safe to eat and what is not, apparently I am not the only one to have been cursed.
We have some time off after lunch, and as the group scatters I go for a city trip together with Shoista. She asks where I would like to go and I explain that I saw this really beautiful medressah on the way to the Kalon mosque yesterday but I have no clue where it was located, except that the tiles were very blue. Knowing the number of medressas in Bukhara she makes an educated guess and flags down a bypassing Lada car and instruct the driver to go to the Abdullah Khan medressa. Flagging down cars and haggling for the price is a common practice when travelling around the major cities in Uzbekistan. Luckily it turns out Shoista’s guess was spot on, and we arrive at a courtyard with a pair of marvellous medressahs facing each other. The dark bluish tiled Abdullah Khan medressa is simply one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen, and no other medressa, including the mighty Mir-i-Arab can put up a decent challenge. The opposing Modari Khan medressa is quite similar in style and colour, and is almost as beautiful.
I decide that it is a perfect afternoon for walking around and we head back in the direction of the hotel through big streets and narrow alleyways. Back at the hotel we meet up with two of the other members of the group in the hotel bar, the a man selling antiques and his mysterious German companion. I take the opportunity to try and improve my Russian. The results are not impressive. I feel a bit exhausted from the day and decide not to challenge Timur again and pass up on the evening dinner and decide to go lie down on top of my hard and warm bed instead. Sleep escapes me as I keep waking up through the night feeling hot and miserable. Do not underestimate the power of the Emir.