[31 May 2015] Day 02 – Lazy Day in Shanghai!

We slept in a tad bit this morning as we had such an exhausting day yesterday.  Decided to take it easy and went ‘shopping’ at 七浦路 / Qipu Lu.

It was an exceptionally boring day, randomly walking around the 七浦路 area.  We had a very yummylicious dinner though.  The tooth guy wanted authentic Shanghainess food and so the cousin took us to 小南国.

I quite like the decor of the restaurant.  High ceiling!  The tables next to the windows are really popular.  It wasn’t a busy evening as we went past the locals’ dinner time, but yet there wasn’t any available window table for us.

小南国 31May15 01

The cousin recommended these!  Absolutely yummy! 小南国 31May15 02

The cousin took us for a walk around Laowai Street.  It was renamed from Hongmei Pedestrian Street in 2010.  As the saying goes, the night is still young, the cousin and the tooth guy decided to get a beer at one of the many pubs.  We didn’t stay for too long as the next day is a working day.  They had one beer each and we called it a night.  Actually, we chatted and watched TV when we got home and didn’t go to bed till 2am!

 

 

 

 

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[30 May 2015] Day 01 – Shanghai!

We managed to get a pretty good deal on Singapore Airlines.  Flying into Shanghai and out from Beijing.  We had to book our tickets separately in order to enjoy the promotion fare. Strange that the SQ website doesn’t allow us to enjoy the promotion fare when we tried to make our reservations together.  No big deal, as long as we get a good price on the flights!

It’s not my first trip to Shanghai and Beijing but it’s sort of the tooth guy’s first trip to China.  He has been to Shenzhen (from Hong Kong) and didn’t consider that a trip to China!

The flight was pretty uneventful.  Fully booked as there were groups of students on their China Immersion trip.  Didn’t manage any sleep though I was tired.  We were slightly hungry when we touched down but decided to head to the cousin’s place before getting our tummy filled!  We didn’t last till we get there though.  The metro took too long and we were starving pretty badly.  We went into the convenience store (at the metro stop at the cousin’s) and got something to eat before making our way to the apartment.

The cousin was supposed to be out but decided to stay home to wait for us.  As soon as we put down our bags and washed up, we were out of the apartment!

First stop, Tianzifang 田子坊!  That’s my top favourite in Shanghai!

It was pretty crowded and almost too touristy for my liking!  The tourist crowd has gotten bigger over the years😦

We were still hungry and went to get more food!

Not sure if it’s a good choice!  Pizza and fries!  Pretty yummy though!  The tooth guy actually wanted local Shanghai food.  Decided to leave that for the ‘proper’ dinner after!Tianzifang 30May15

Apparently the ice-cream drink is the craze now!  And the ice-cream looks really enticing and flavorful!

To be honest, Tianzifang is a disappointment (for me).  Removing it as my must-go and top favorite in Shanghai!

Our next stop is The Bund!  As expected, pretty crowded on a weekend!Shanghai 30May15

We needed a massage pretty badly and I have requested for the cousin to make a reservation for a massage the week before.  We wanted to have our dinner before the massage and had to hurriedly find a place for our yummy dinner.   The cousin took us to a Thai Restaurant, Simply Thai, in a small alley.  It’s a pretty small place and they were pretty crowded despite that the time is way after the locals’ dinner time.  We didn’t want to eat too much as we are having a massage later.

Our yummylicious noodles!  The salad and chicken are really good too!Dinner 30May15

So the tooth guy didn’t manage to have any local food today!

We were sort of rushing for the massage appointment.  As soon as we are done, we walked to the shopping mall where the massage center is located.

Apparently the cousin got ‘cheated’ out of her money for the massage package.  The spa center went bankrupt and another company bought over the spa center and honored the package the cousin bought.  They didn’t fulfill 100% of the terms but definitely it wasn’t a 100% loss for the cousin.

The massage was pretty ok.  Nothing fantastic as compared to Thailand’s!  But it was still good after a hectic period at work!  Pretty sure that we will be able to sleep well tonight!

 

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[02 Mar 2015] Day 11 – Almaty; A Day of Random Walking Around the City!

Slept in this morning.  Spent a fair bit of time surfing the internet and looking/researching for information on where to go and what to see.  Finally got out of the hostel just slightly before noon!

First impression of Almaty, is that it seems like it’s just another European city, not that I have been to most European cities!  Almaty is certainly developed, as many have mentioned on the travel forums and blogs.

01 Almaty Resized

Silk Way City is a trade centre in Almaty that boasts a superb luxurious design. It is spread over 12000 square meters.  It has an ability to serve about 8000 people a day with the help of its 16 computerized cash zone. The manufacturing departments of Silkway offer pastry, bread, cold food, meat, fish and much more produced with the most modern and high technique. It also houses a 4 hall cinema- multiplex equipped with the latest technology.

I didn’t enter the mall as I wasn’t in the tad bit interested in shopping.  All I wanted to do, was to locate the Green Bazaar!

02 Almaty Resized

The United Nations.  Took this photo from the fence/gate.  The guard was gesturing me ‘what are you doing?’ as I was taking the photo.  Had to quickly ‘snap’ and keep the camera away!03 Almaty Resized

Burgers!  Familiar comfort food!  I wasn’t hungry when I chanced upon this.  Was actually hoping to have the local Kazan food before I succumbed to KFC (later)!04 Almaty Resized 05 Almaty Resized

No idea what this building is.06 Almaty Resized

Chinese restaurant!  Though I’m suspecting that this may be a Korean restaurant as there is a large diaspora of ethnic Koreans in Almaty.07 Almaty Resized

So I was hoping to go to the Green Bazaar but after walking for about an hour and not locating it, I gave up and made a turn for Abay.

Doesn’t it look like a developed city in Europe?

08 Almaty Resized 09 Almaty Resized

Another shopping mall!10 Almaty Resized

I believe this is a residential apartment!11 Almaty Resized

One of the places I intended to visit.12 Almaty Resized

The Monument of Independence of Kazakhstan at Republic Square in Almaty is the composition of soaring into the sky Saka warrior with a leopard by his feet.13 Almaty Resized 14 Almaty Resized 15 Almaty Resized 16 Almaty Resized 17 Almaty Resized 18 Almaty Resized

The walk back to Arbat Street…19 Almaty Resized 20 Almaty Resized

University in Almaty.21 Almaty Resized

Residential apartments 22 Almaty Resized 23 Almaty Resized

Metro, the Abby stop if I remember …24 Almaty Resized

Where I had my lunch today, KFC!25 Almaty Resized

One can never go wrong with fast food!  One of the better meals I had on the trip!Lunch 02Mar

I was walking way too much today.  Returned to the hostel for a rest and managed to get in touch with a friend, Aika (of a friend of a friend).  Six degrees of separation!

Left the hostel early and realized that I was too early.  Decided to try to find Hard Rock Cafe.  Turns out that Hard Rock ain’t too far from the hostel and hotel.

Hard Rock Cafe 02Mar 01Hard Rock Cafe 02Mar 02

Went in and had a quick look on the shirts available.  They aren’t too pricey, at approximately US$30+ each.  I’m going to get the shirts on my last day in Almaty, to use up all the leftover Tenge.

We met at the Rixos Hotel where Aika’s office is located.  Very impressive interiors!   Rixos Hotel 02Mar

Aika brought me to her favourite cafe.  I had a hot chocolate.  Not the best but I can’t complain!   Pretty interesting deco.  Crowded though it was dinner time.Cafe 02Mar

Aika wasn’t hungry.  I wasn’t too.  However I wanted a proper dinner so Aika brought me to a local restaurant.  Absolutely yummy!  Pretty good meal I had!  Potatoes with mushrooms.  I’m not entirely sure if this is a local dish!Dinner 02Mar

Dinner with Aika 02Mar

There isn’t anything to do after dinner and Aika had to work the next day.  She walked me back to the hostel.  We seem to be the only people on the streets!  Almaty is pretty safe. I don’t think I will be afraid even if I had to walk back (to the hostel) alone.

Pretty good day despite the tiredness from all the walking!

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[01 Mar 2015] Day 10 – Tashkent to Almaty

The train arrived on time at 6.30am in Tashkent.  Didn’t sleep much on the train but wasn’t too tired.  Walked along the tram lines back to Topchan Hostel. Was just standing outside the hostel as apparently Rafa didn’t hear the bell.  I could connect to the wifi so that didn’t bother me.  It wasn’t too cold either.

After an hour of waiting, Rafa finally heard the bell and let me in.  Was informed that it’s better to take a flight to Almaty as it had been raining and the roads were wet.  The Marshrutka goes via the mountains.  Decided that safety is number one priority and booked a noon time flight to Almaty.  Had a chat with Rafa until it was time to leave for the airport.  Took the taxi to the airport and realized that I overpaid (Rafa) for the arrival pickup.  Oh well.

Was pretty early for the flight and couldn’t check in.  People watched and found it interesting that everyone shrink wrapped their bags!

The flight on Air Astana to Almaty was pretty smooth.  Decided that I should continue my adventurous streak and take the local bus to the city.  I took the bus on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and ended up somewhere. Fortunately there was a guy who could speak English.  He missed his stop to the airport. He had to get onto the bus to the airport which was also going the direction of the city.  He helped informed the driver where I wanted to alight.

The only photo for the day!  Ticket machine on the bus.Public Bus 01Mar

So I got off the bus at Abay.  I looked at the map and walked and walked and walked.  I seem to be walking in circles!  Met two young men who used their phones to locate the hostel and walked with me.  They couldn’t speak much English.  They are probably around 19 years and are training with Air Astana to be pilots.  Felt really fortunate to have met nice and friendly locals who helped me today.

When I got to the Almaty Central Hostel, the lady in charge wasn’t around.  Her nephew helped settled me in while she returned.  I was simply too tired to go anywhere.  They gave me a discount voucher for the food court a street away.  The food looked really alien to me! I opt for something familiar, pasta.  It wasn’t too bad.  Just really glad that I’m eating something that I know what it is!

I shared a small room (with no door) within a room with a girl.  It was pretty comfortable. Internet was also stable in Kazakhstan.  For once I could surf the internet smoothly. Managed to sleep pretty well tonight too🙂

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[28 Feb 2015] Day 09 – Bukhara

Had a nice hearty breakfast this morning!  Did nothing except walk around the old town🙂

It’s a tad bit more livelier today!

Toki Sarrafon Dome is one of Bukhara’s four remained bazaars..  It is located on the ancient canal Shohrud.

This trading dome was used mostly for money exchange during the era of the Silk Road. Indian shop owners frequently exchanged money inside this bazaar as Islam prohibits such activities.  It is no longer a money exchange center, but it now has lots of shops where you can pick up gold-selling products, earrings, pendants, precious trappings, utensils.14 Toki-Sarrofon Trading Dome

The Tok-i-Telpak Furushon is located on an important crossroads: five different roads lead here. The medieval masters have decided this complex urban development node, passing the road between the six radiating pylons carrying a low spherical dome (diameter is 14.5 m) on twelve-sided lantern. At 12 going around the room axes based gallery with niches, storage and warehouse products. This dome still sells traditional head wear such as fur hats and turbans for people of all ages and genders.15 Telpak Furushon Trading Dome

Tim of Ablulla Khan (1577), the main dome of the building placed on the octagonal base, surrounded by his gallery, covered by a series of small domes. Feature of the building is a special light, created out of small windows and holes in the domes. It is always cool, regardless of the weather outside. Over the centuries, here traded fabrics and carpets, and today this tradition has not changed.16 Tim Abdullakhan Trading Dome17 Tim Abdullakhan Trading Dome 18 Tim Abdullakhan Trading Dome 19 Tim Abdullakhan Trading Dome22 Bukhara 23 Carpet Market 24 Carpet Market 25 Carpet Market 26 Carpet Market

Today under the three ancient domes there is a busy life, too. Just like in the Middle Ages the structure houses craftsmen shops where tourists can buy a memory token of their trip.

Abdullah-Khan Madrasah built in 1588-1590, is one of the most outstanding objects of Central Asian architecture. The main principle of the structural building remained unchanged – the premises are located around the front yard. However, the construction is much more complicated: the main entrance has a tall portal which is linked to the wings with two-stored premises and the gallery on the upper floor. Impressive size of the facade and the variety of the decorative ornaments grant the building with colorful and majestic view. In bright sun light, the cold tones of majolica plates (blue, green and white) shine very brightly. The doors of madrasah are designed with astonishing artistic input, gathered from separate parts of the tree with thin carvings and without a single nail.

The architecture of this building was controversial (one might go as far as to say heretical) as rather than being orientated towards Mecca, its position is determined by the cardinal points, the facade mirroring that of the Modar-i Khan Madrassa opposite. Abdullah Khan is buried inside, his tomb lying on the north-south axis as is traditional for an Islamic burial; the building, one might argue, was laid out not for the glory of God, but for the convenience of Abdullah Khan.

Abdullah-Khan Madrasah is one of the biggest in Bukhara after Kukeldash and Mir Arab.20 Abdullah Khan Madrasah

The ever-smiling Khodja riding on his bronze donkey.21 Khodja

Sumptuous dinner at 4pm as I’m catching the last Marshrutka (at 6pm) to the train station!  US$5, at the guesthouse.Dinner 28Feb

No, there is no MacDonald in Uzbekistan!28 Bukhara

Mall near the train station. 30 Bukhara

I wasn’t willing to pay for a taxi to the train station when the fare for the Marshrutka is only US$0.20!  The last Marshrutka was at 6pm.  I got to the train really too early for the train. The guard at the train station was really interested in the visas and stamps in my passport! He kept asking me which country each and every visa that was inside.  I forgot that I couldn’t take photos of train stations and official monuments and he caught me taking photos of the train station when I later went to use the toilet (which is strangely outside the station and payable).  I apologized and deleted the photos in front of him and all’s good again.

I was pretty tired when I boarded the train and there’s this guy who kept talking to me though he didn’t understand English a tad bit!  He used a translation program in his phone and my phrasebook asking me questions.  Fortunately, I was able to turn in soon.  It wasn’t long before I woke up in Tashkent🙂

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[27 Feb 2015] Day 08 – Samarkand & Bukhara

Woke up a tad bit early this morning as Shoira said I should visit the Gur-Emir Mausoleum.  Not that I was sleeping much and well anyway.

The Chorsu on a not so gloomy day🙂Chorsu

Chorsu in Samarkand, is an old domed bazaar building.  It was constructed in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. It is located near the Registan Ensemble, on its northeast side.

The main bazaar has already moved to Siyob Bazaar, near the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Chorsu has recently been converted into an art gallery.

The Gur-Emir MausoleumGur-Emir Mausoleum 01

Gur-e Amir is Persian for “Tomb of the King”.

It was built at the beginning of the XV century. This majestic complex consisted of a khanaka, the madrasah of Muhammad Sultan – grandson of Amir Timur, and, later, tombs of Amir Timur himself and his descendants.

The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the 14th century by the orders of Muhammad Sultan. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains.

Gur-Emir Mausoleum 02Gur-Emir Mausoleum 13Gur-Emir Mausoleum 05

The construction of the mausoleum itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan, Tamerlane’s heir apparent and his beloved grandson, for whom it was intended. Timur had built himself a smaller tomb in Shahrisbz near his Ak-Saray palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead. Ulugh Beg, another grandson of Tamerlane, completed the work. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty.

Gur-Emir Mausoleum 07

The mausoleum is a fine example of medieval architectural craftsmanship. The contemporaries still admire the harmony of its proportions. The ribbed dome and vault walls are completely covered with a mosaic of light and dark blue glazed bricks, gilding and painting. The relief rosettes on the dome imitate a starry sky. The interior is enriched with bar tracery grids in the windows, marble and onyx panels covered with paintings, carving and inlaid with semiprecious stones.

Gur-Emir Mausoleum 03

Gur-Emir Mausoleum 06

Deep niches and diverse muqarnas decoration.Gur-Emir Mausoleum 10

Subsequently, Gur Emir was a prototype for famous samples of architecture of the Great Mughal: Humayun Mausoleum in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra, built by Timur descendants, who ruled northern India.

Today Gur Emir Mausoleum and its entrance portal are renovated by the restorers, but the khanaka and madrasahs, unfortunately, are left only ruins.

Gur-Emir Mausoleum 04Gur-Emir Mausoleum 12

Managed to make it back to the hotel with time to spare.  Got the hotel to arrange a taxi to bring me to the train station.  When I got into the taxi, the hotel staff seems to give the driver more money that I passed to him, which left me wondering if the hotel is subsidizing my taxi ride :p

This is sort of a ‘backtrack’ to Bukhara as Samarkand is nearer to Tashkent than Bukhara to Tashkent.  There were many backpackers heading back to Tashkent and I seem to be the only one heading to Bukhara!

It was a smooth 3 hours ride.  Nobody was trying to talk to me but could tell that they were pretty curious about me though!

When it was time to alight from the train, I casually asked the guy sitting behind me if it’s Bukhara.  He said yes and then offered to bring me to the bus station.  Another friendly and nice local!

Actually it wasn’t too difficult to locate the bus station.  It’s just right in front of the train station.  The guy brought me to the stop and I just followed the sign and number (268) on the bus which said ‘Lyabi-Hauz’.  The train station and Lyabi-Hauz are both the start and end stops.  The fare is only 500SOM (eqv. US$0.20)!  As I was the first passenger, I just boarded the bus and waited.  The bus took off when it was half filled.  When the passengers started passing the fare to the driver, I followed suit.  As simple as that🙂29 Bukhara27 Marshrutka

The ride to Lyabi-Hauz bus took quite a while.  It seems to be quite a distance away!  I was just walking towards Lyabi-Hauz and chanced upon Zukhra Rustam Guesthouse. Remembered that I read pretty good reviews on it and thus decided to just stay there instead of walking around.  It’s just for one night anyway.Bukhara Guesthouse

The lady was making dinner and gave me a piece of fried pastry.  It tasted really yummy!  I was greedy but was too shy to ask for more!

As it was low season, they gave me the best room available!  It is huge and I really didn’t need such a big room🙂

Put my bags down and went out for a walk, hoping to get dinner.

Bukhara was historically one of the great trading cities along the Silk Road.

Camels played an important part in the Silk Road🙂01 Bukhara02 Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble 03 Lyabi-Hauz

538 years old Mulberry tree!04 Bukhara05 Lyabi-Hauz Remains

A little girl (on the street) started chatting with me in English when she saw me.  Pretty sweet girl who turns out to be manning a stall in the trading dome.  I was later kinda pressurized to buy something from her.  I didn’t though as the items are pretty expensive.  Felt really bad for not buying anything.  She was so sweet and nice.

10 Toki-Sarrofon Trading Dome 11 Toki-Sarrofon Trading Dome

The street was pretty empty at 6pm.  Low season and I seem to be the only foreigner around.12 Lyabi-Hauz

Photo shoot happening at Lyabi-Hauz.13 Lyabi-Hauz

The two food stalls seem to have ran out of fries and burgers.  There was nothing I fancy having.  Another night where I was thankful I brought Muesli bars!

Internet seems to be down in Uzbekistan for the 4th day!  Nothing I could do except to try to watch the local tv and play Candy Crush!

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[26 Feb 2015] Day 07 – Samarkand

Breakfast at the Asia Hotel, Samarkand.01 Breakfast

I didn’t enjoy the breakfast.  Quite a lousy and disappointing spread for a US$60/night hotel!  Definitely not worth the price for the room and breakfast!

Decided to move to a cheaper hotel.  Packed my bags and walked to the Hotel Caravan Serail which I had originally planned for but couldn’t locate (when I arrived).  Since I have way too much SOM and not spending much, decided to pay for the hotel in SOM instead of USD.  A room costs US$22 inclusive of a city tax of some sort.

The room wasn’t ready when I checked in.  Left my bag at the reception and headed out for a walk.  I didn’t have a plan and just sort of took a walk aimlessly.  Kinda glad that it stopped snowing!

Walking around randomly!  Sights of Samarkand.26 Feb Samarkand

Somehow I made my way to the Rukhobod Mausoleum and Gur Emir Mausoleum.

The Rukhobod Mausoleum.  I didn’t have to pay to enter.24 Rukhobod Mausoleum

The Rukhabad Mausoleum, built by order of Amir Timur in 1380, was erected over the grave of Islamic theologian and mystic Sheikh Burhaneddin Sagaradzhi, much esteemed by Timur’s contemporaries.

These are simple tombstones of Sagaradzhi, his wife-Princess and 9 children.25 Rukhobod Mausoleum 26 Rukhobod Mausoleum

The mausoleum has three entrances from north, west and south. The interior decoration of the mausoleum is also very modest.  Its only decoration is a two-meter ceramic plate in the wall foundation with inserts of glazed bricks laid in a form of a narrow band. There are simple tombstones of Sagaradzhi, his wife-Princess and 9 children.

The arched octahedron with windows along the principal axes is supported by a cubic basis, and crowned by a spheroconical dome structure. According to a legend, the dome has an immured box with seven Prophet Muhammad’s beard hairs, which belonged to saint Sheikh.

The Rukhobod Mausoleum, dated 1380, is possibly the city’s oldest surviving monument.  It now serves as a souvenir and craft shop.

Rukhobod Mausoleum Souvenir

The Rukhobod Mausoleum from afar.  29 Rukhobod Mausoleum

The Gur Emir Mausoleum.  I wasn’t sure if it’s worth paying to enter the Gur Emir Mausoleum.  Since I have another day in Samarkand, decided to do some research first before deciding.30 Gur Emir Mausoleum

The Gur Emir was built in the southwestern part of Samarkand at the beginning of the XV century. It is one of the most significant architectural ensembles of medieval East.  This majestic complex consisted of a khanaka, the madrasah of Muhammad Sultan – grandson of Amir Timur, and, later, tombs of Amir Timur himself and his descendants.

Started walking to the Registan Square as I’m meeting Shoira.

Statue of Amir Temur at a roundabout near the Registon ko chasi.31 Amir Temur

Registon ko chasi.  Soviet looking buildings.32 Registon ko chasi

Managed to take another panorama shot of the Registan Ensemble!  Clear blue sky!24 Registan Ensemble Panaroma

Enjoying the view of the Registan, while waiting for Shoira!  Inspired by the image from the wikitravel page for Samarkand!35 Registan Square

Finally managed to meet up with Shoira!  We spent the afternoon together.  She brought me to the new town and also into some of the monuments.

Our first stop, the Siyob Bazaar as I needed to get more SOM.  It is the biggest bazaar in Samarkand!Siyob BazaarThe bazaar is huge!  It consists of 3 stories, outdoor and indoor!

We headed to the Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble.Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble 01

Shah-I-Zinda is one of the oldest and longest-running examples of a continually constructed historic site in the world.  The Shah-i-Zinda complex was formed over nine (from 11th till 19th) centuries and now includes more than twenty buildings.

The name Shah-i-Zinda is connected with the legend that Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet of Muhammed was buried there. He came to Samarkand with the Arabian invasion in the 7th century. Popular legends speak that he was beheaded for his faith, but he took his head and went into a deep well (Garden of Paradise) where he is still living now.

Spectacular blue and turquoise tiles make up the magnificent Shah-i-Zinda. Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble 02

Shoira then took me on a public bus, to the new city.

Inside a shopping mall.  I wasn’t keen in shopping and thus we left after I have seen the interior of the first level.54 Shopping Mall

Shoira said this is where the university students hang out! 55 University Boulevard56 Uzbek State Medical Institute57 Central Park

Shoira wanted to bring me to try one of the national food of Uzbekistan but the stall was closed.  So she brought me to her favourite cafe instead. The cake is absolutely yummy!  The hot chocolate doesn’t taste good though. But it’s good for someone who hasn’t had much to eat and drink since the start of the trip!Cafe

As we walked back to the Registan Square, Shoira brought me to the university she’s studying in.University 01

Artwork of the Silk Road on the interior walls (of the building).University 02

Couldn’t resist another (photo) shot of the Registan Ensemble!  The snow is melting!09 Registan Ensemble

Finally entered the Registan Ensemble with Shoira as my guide🙂

The ensemble consists of three Madrassah: Ulugbek Madrassah (15th century), Sher – Dor Madrassah (17th century) and Tilla-Kari Madrassah (gold covered, 17th century).

Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417–1420) Ulugh Beg Madrasah

The Ulugbek Madrassah was built by the Ulugbek’s order and guidance. It lasted only three years from 1417 to 1420. When the medresse was constructed, Ulugbek gave lectures on mathematics and astronomy till his death.

Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619–1636)Sher-Dor Madrasah

Two years later, the ruler of Samarkand Yalangtush Bahadur ordered to build the copy of the Madrassah, and the second Sher-Dor Madrassah was built opposite it. The only difference was that it had two more winter teaching halls, but the main structure was the same as in Ulugbek Madrassah.

The tiger mosaics on the face of each madrassah are interesting, in that they flout the ban in Islam of the depiction of living beings on religious buildings.

Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646–1660)Tilya-Kori Madrasah

Ten years later the Tilya-Kori Madrassah was built. It was not only a residential college for students, but also played the role of grand masjid (mosque). It’s outward is the same as those two other madrassas, but coming in you’ll see a one story building. To make the architectural ensemble, the architecture made two floors on the outside but only one inside.

It has a two-storied main facade and a vast courtyard fringed by dormitory cells, with four galleries along the axes.

The mosque building (see picture) is situated in the western section of the courtyard. The main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded.

The main entrance was always locked with lattice and two other entrances were used by purpose. The doors in cell were always low because “Islam” means “obedience”, that is why everyone who entered or went out of cell always had to bow, it was like greeting and wishing health to everyone. Only Tilla-Kari Madrassah was built like medresse, but was used mostly as mosque; just looking at minarets can see this, Tilla-Kari has low minarets to call people to pray.

Assorted photos from the Registan Ensemble.Registan Ensemble Collage

The ancient trading dome Chorsu (right behind the Sher-Dor).Chorsu 01 Chorsu 02

I took these photos yesterday, not knowing what (architecture) it is.

Payment for the entrance fee to the Registan Ensemble can be made in SOM or USD.  The rates are better for paying in SOM.  There is a money exchange who’s there in the afternoons.  Else, it is better to change currencies at the Siyob Bazaar which is of walking distance.  There are freelance tour guides.  I forgot the rates they charge.  It’s better to enter the Registan Ensemble with a guide.  Else it’s just ‘boring’ architecture.

We decided to call it a day and I walked back to the guest house.  Internet was still down.  I went to Asia Hotel to tap onto the internet.  It’s working on and off at Asia Hotel.  It got dark pretty soon and there’s no street lamps.  Pretty scary experience walking down the street with no street lamps!

As I have skipped dinner and internet wasn’t working, I went to the reception/lobby hoping to get something to eat.  The staff on duty was studying for his exams.  Knowing I was hungry, he offered me food from the kitchen.  Had a pretty nice chat over some bread and tea before retiring for the night.

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