After heading out this morning, I soon realized that it was too hot to accomplish anything today. Even sketching in the shade was painful, and it was impossible to prevent the sweat from dripping from my brow onto the paper. Temperatures reached 48 degrees (118 Fahrenheit), and are expected to climb to 50 degrees (122 Fahrenheit) tomorrow. I learned first hand today that this is just plainly too darn hot, and the fact that I was about a mile and a half from my hotel at 2:00 was a big mistake. I have begun to think that perhaps heat exhaustion is responsible for my upset stomach the past couple of days.
I made it over to the Ark, Bukhara’s ancient fortress, and then spent a couple of hours wandering from one site to another, not having the energy or motivation to actually spend time at any of them. Eventually, I decided that my health was at stake if I did not get back to my hotel quickly. Once I finally stumbled back, I spent the next four hours in a state of semi-consciousness, trying to hydrate whenever I could lift a water bottle to my lips. By 7, though, I was ready for some more exploration.
Here are the photos (click to enlarge):
Bukhara's ancient fortress is called the Ark. I walked by it last night, and snapped this photo and the next one, and took a trip inside today.
Two British officers were once forced to dig their own graves in this plaza in 1842. When the holes were sufficiently deep, they were summarily beheaded. One of them, Stoddart, had just spent three years in a nearby dungeon, where he was housed in a bug pit. The other, Connolly, had been sent to negotiate Stoddart's release. He was evidently not successful.
My breakfast at this place has been pretty good. I try to eat enough so that I only need a small snack at lunch.
The residential section of town is filled with these old doorways that lead to courtyards. There's no scale to the photo, but the doors are only about 4.5 feet tall.
It was already getting painfully hot by 10 AM. In this photo, you see one of the few signs of life that I encountered in the old section of town: a boy on his bycicle, presumably trying to get home to the shade (he's on the right side of the picture).
Fans of narrow passages will have much to celebrate in Bukhara.
The interior of the Ark was surprisingly vacant, and unremarkable. Perhaps it was the heat, which made me incredibly uncomfortable, but I was a little disappointed. Much of the complex was bombed by the Soviets in 1920.
This is the jail in which Stoddart and Connoly were held before their beheadings. It was somewhat of a morbid curiosity that led me to make the visit. I had read extensively about their ordeal before making the trip out here, and a part of me wanted to see the bug pit.
The rooms within the jail have funny papier-mache people chained to the walls. The bug pit is next door to this room, but it was too dark for photos. It looked about how one would expect a bug pit to look, only without the bugs.
The emir attended this mosque, which across the street from the Ark. There's also a mosque withing the Ark, so I'm not quite sure why he went to this one.
The best way to beat the heat? Unfortunately, not with my complexion. The water was really warm, too. Those are the ancient city walls in the background.
This mausoleum was built around 900, and is one of the oldest surviving Muslim structures. It's 2.5-meter thick walls have withstood countless earthquakes and invaders. One might think that the park surrounding it would provide a little cool shade, but it was little help.
i saw a bunch of people eating these. In the hot sun, It began melting and falling apart as soon as it was taken out of the freezer, and no, it didn't help.
This terracotta has withstood 11 centuries without a touch-up.
After spending a good portion of the day out of the sun, I ventured out to explore more of the town around 7 PM. It was still stiflingly hot, but was beginning to cool a little bit. This is a small mosque that I discovered in the middle of a maze of narrow streets.
Another mausoleum, buried in a neighborhood. This one is a holy site, and supposedly, it is so popular as a place to be buried that people are stacked 30 meters deep around it.
There were plenty of kids asking me to take their photos in the old neighborhoods this evening. None of them asked for money, either.
This kid took a break from bike racing for a photo.
Also buried in one of the old neighborhoods, an old synagogue remains active among a dwindling population of Jewish Bukharans. For centuries, Bukhara had a thriving Jewish population, numbering in the tens of thousands. They even developed their own language, known as Bokhori, which is still spoken around here. Since independence from the Soviet Union, however, the population has fallen to only a couple of hundred. Seeing that I was a little lost, a kindly old man showed me the way to the synagogue, and then showed me around.
The rabbi's granddaughter is most likely one of the last Jewish Bukharans to be born here.
Although he looks much younger in the photograph than I remember him being, this is the old man who showed me to the synagogue. At the time, he was pushing a rickety wheelbarrow full of mortar down the craggy street.
"Hallo! Hallo! Mister! Photo!"
The cool kids in the neighborhood, these guys shooed all of the other children away from their photo.
I'm really starting to look forward to Turkish food. This was essentially Spaghetti-Os with a fried egg on top.