Tag Archives: Market

The Silk Road

I have now arrived in Istanbul after a journey of 45 days from Beijing. It seemed quite daunting at the beginning but went very smoothly and was so well organised that we just followed along.

Blue Mosque Istanbul

Blue Mosque Istanbul

What are the common threads I wonder.

The first which came to mind are mulberry trees, there are mulberry trees all the way, we have eaten white mulberries from Beijing to Istanbul.

Sitting beneath the shade of a mulberry tree in Bukhara.

Sitting beneath the shade of a mulberry tree in Bukhara.

Markets/bazaars. Bazaars seem to be a thriving centre in each of the cities, selling fresh and dried food, spices, and goods of all descriptions. The word ‘traders’ is used which seem to suggest so much more than ‘shopkeeper’. Many of the foodstuffs sold in these bazaars are the same as has always been sold however much of the other items may now very well, I was going to say, made else where ie watches, mobile phones, clothes etc. but I guess bazaars have always sold goods from elsewhere.

They have all been very crowded and busy. We went to the Muslim night market in Xian, mostly a food market which has been ‘tidied up’ in recent years. Then markets all the way to the miles of bazaar in Isfaban and then the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul now a mecca for tourists but with some traders who have been there for generations.

Islam is practiced from Xian to Istanbul. We visited the mosque in Xian and then mosques all the way to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Some of the countries are secular states which forbid the Call for Prayer such as Uzbekistan.

Marble mosque in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Marble mosque in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan


Food Kebabs first appeared to us as street food in Xian China and were very common food through to Istanbul.

Kebab

Kebab

Bread was an essential part of every meal from Turpan. The shape of the bread varied from place to place but large loaves or baskets of bread were provided as soon as we sat down. For us use to a small dinner roll it was much too much bread.

Bread in the market at Osh

Bread in the market at Osh


Cheese appeared on the breakfast table from Turpan to Istanbul. It is soft fresh sheep’s cheese as these people were nomads.
Sheep cheese wrapped in goat skin in the Spice Market Istanbul

Sheep cheese wrapped in goat skin in the Spice Market Istanbul


Tea was the main drink along the entire journey.
Tea House in Beijing

Tea House in Beijing

Life was difficult for coffee drinkers until we got to Bukhara where the number of tourists meant cafes sold lattes.
Tea growing near Rize Turkey on slopes near the Black Sea

Tea growing near Rize Turkey on slopes near the Black Sea

The Road
We travelled by train and mini van. In China the stations were full of men who seemed to be travelling to work in distant locations.
The roads were all sealed, except for the 200km to the border between China and Krygizstan which is under construction and the Military Road from Tbilisi to the Russian border which was a detour for us to see the monastery. Some roads needed much work such as between Samarkand and Bukhara. The road from the Turkish border to Istanbul was a divided 4 lane highway.
We saw long lines of trucks waiting to cross some borders, especially entering and leaving China.

However we also shared the road with donkey carts, cows grazing, sheep and cattle being driven, and small tractors pulling carts carrying the whole family or goods.

Sheep being driven along a main highway in Uzbekistan

Sheep being driven along a main highway in Uzbekistan

Other sights in the towns were different for us.

So all in all an extraordinary journey and much easier than most imagine.

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Impressions of Iran – Isfahan

We crossed into Iran from Turkmenistan wearing long dresses and head scarves and went to Mashad and visited the Holy Shine the most sacred shrine in Iran. It was crowded. We then caught the train for an overnight trip to Isfahan.

Our group is 6 women and one man plus a young female guide. Some of the group were very resentful at having to wear head scarf and long clothes. We soon worked out that we could get away with scarves, long pants and longish tops.

Our tour group

Our tour group

Most Iranian women wore the chador over long pants and the weather was 30 degrees plus.

People in Iran were extremely friendly and we were constantly stopped and spoken to. Iran has had very few tourists in the last few years and I think we were especially welcome. The first afternoon I walked with 3 others along the river bank and across the famous stone bridges.

Isfahan bridge

Isfahan bridge

There was water in the river which our guide later told us was not always the case but the water had been turned on as the election was due. He said Iranians really loved being near the water.

Paddling across the weir in Isfahan

Paddling across the weir in Isfahan

Many people were picnicking and they had carpet picnic rugs. We will need to lift our game.
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We were constantly asked where we were from, how we liked Iran, if they could help us. One woman asked if we were required to wear headscarves in Australia and what we thought of Israel. We learnt that the TV series All Saints had been shown on Iranian TV.

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We visited many wonderful examples of Islamic Architecture.

We visited the bazaar and a tea house which we would never have found without the guide leading us through a labyrinth filled with old wares.

Alley leading to tea house in the bazaar

Alley leading to tea house in the bazaar

Garden of a hotel  where we wished we had stayed

Garden of a hotel where we wished we had stayed

Iranians seem to be really into modern technology, mobile phones everywhere and constantly being used, Apple are doing very well and I had no trouble replacing my Panasonic camera battery much cheaper than in Australia. So I am not sure how the sanctions work.

Bank of chargers in the park beside the river.

Bank of chargers in the park beside the river.

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Kyrgyzstan

Our terrific guide is Russian but grew up in Kyrgyzstan and leads walking parties there. I can really understand this from the small part in the south we saw.

Mountain pass Krygzstan

Mountain pass Kygizstan

The Taldyk Pass is 3615m above sea level.

The people are somewhat nomadic and take sheep to their summer pastures living in yurts or temporary summer dwellings.

Moving sheep to summer pasture

Moving sheep to summer pasture

Of course we went to the market at Osh but as all the ground was being dug up we did not stay long.

Osh Market

Osh Market

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