We made our longest stay in Bukhara. It may not be coincidence that it is Jama's home town. After visiting a new city almost every day it was a delight to be able to stay three nights in the same place (little things mean a lot)! Beginning in the late 1960s under the Soviets and continuing after independence, active restoration of the old city of Bukhara transformed it from a derelict slum into a vibrant center. In 1995 Bukhara received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for this work.

Uzbek Village Bazaar

On the road between Samarkand and Bukhara, Jama asked if we wanted to stop in a little village to visit their bazaar. This was by no means a place on the tourist circuit. I don't know the name of the town, but it had no magnificent blue domes or intricate tile work. It just had a country market. A crowded and vibrant country market.

I couldn't resist this sewing machine "shop."

After a brief stop in which WE were the curiosities, we were back on our way.


We also made a brief detour to visit the remains of an 11th century caravanserai or fortified inn at Rabati Malik. Only the south gate remains standing after a 1968 earthquake.

There are adequate pictures of the remains prior to the earthquake to enable potential restoration as resources become available.

Malik Sardoba

The existence of a caravanserai means there is a water source. Across the highway from the ruins above is this Malik sardoba.

Water storage The pool, filled via a subterranean canal from a nearby river, is protected by the terracotta dome.

Gijduvan Ceramics

We had lunch in the village of Gijduvan at the workshop of the Narzullayev family, who have been making ceramics for several generations.

We were joined for lunch by a very talkative cat, the only pet animal that greeted us on our journey.

There is a ceramic museum plus we enjoyed a tour of the workshop after lunch.

Narzullayev kiln

There are two traditional wood-fired kilns. Our guide explained how they were loaded and fired. The semicircular pieces behind the vases are the lid for the kiln.

These vases were similar to the wares for sale in the gift shop. There were also susani embroideries, which are also made locally.

Karavot Table

We were relieved to reach our hotel in Bukhara after a long day on the road.

This informal dining table or "karavot" is in the courtyard. We saw them everywhere and Jama said that a courtyard would be incomplete without one. People recline on the platform and food or tea is served on the little table in the middle.

Some are very plain and some are elaborately carved. This one was typical.

The term karavot means "bed." In some poorer areas there are metal bedsteads that seem to serve the same purpose.

Bukhara Synagogue We didn't get to rest though. It was back on our feet to tour the city. Our first destination was the 16th century synagogue, the center of life for the city's declining Jewish population.

Bukhara Jewish Cemetery

Next we walked to the Jewish Cemetery. A feature that struck us was the segregation of Ashkenazi and Sephardic graves.

Jewish School

Although we didn't visit the Jewish School until the next day, I'm including it here. The children were full of noisy life during the recess but scurried back into their classrooms when the bell rang.

The Jewish presence in Central Asia dates back to antiquity. Jama told us that he had some Jewish heritage himself.

Bukharan Children

While we're on the subject of children, we were charmed by the youngsters we met in Uzbekistan. English is a required subject in school and children everywhere were eager to greet us: "Hello, how are you?" "What's your name?" and "How old are you?" were common greetings along with "Bon bon?" and the occasional "Chewing gum?"

We didn't see any whiny or bratty children in our travels. They all seemed to play together amicably, and there were a lot of them!

I hope there will be jobs and opportunities for them as they grow up because these youngsters could be the country's best resource. Or its worst nightmare.

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