Crystal was not feeling any better today, acutally a little worse. She was not sure if she was sick, had an allergy, or something else. Additionally, she had a weird dream about a death in the family - hopefully it was not a premonition. We saw that one of our bulldog pals in Southern California passed away, so we made sure to offer our condolences with a picture of he and Omar from the beach earlier this year. This pup was 8, which is three years younger than Omar, so we've been very blessed. Justin went out walking on his own and let Crystal sleep some more. He headed over to the Kalyan complex again. It was bright and sunny today, and much warmer. There were many fewer tourists, as it was still before 9am. He wandered around, looking for good vantage points. Hotel Zargaron looked like it might have something good, but didn't look like anyone was up there. The Minorai Kalon Hotel also looked like it might have a good view.

No one was at the Ulugbek and Abdulaziz-Khan madrasahs this morning. No one was at the Kalyan mosque either, so Justin was able to wander into the courtyard with a handful of other people. He then headed over by the Ark, then to the 40 column mosque. When he arrived, no one was there, but then a bus full of Germans showed up. So Justin went in, and had the mosque to himself for 30 seconds, before Germans came in. Since there was no ticket, Justin made sure to give a donation in the donation box. The proprietor told Justin that the front area, above the mihrab, was stil the original work. From there, he leisurely headed back towards the hotel. The walk, and the city, was nice and peaceful, and would be good for almost anyone to visit, young or old.

At one of the drug stores near Lyab-i Hauz, Justin went in to get some cold medicine for Crystal. Communication was difficult, so he mimed coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose. He bought both syrup and pills. When he returned, Crystal was up. We packed, putting stuff we didn't plan to use in one bag, stuff we thought we'd use in the other, so we could basically ignore one of the bags for the next few days. At around 10:30, we headed out, looking for an early lunch before our noon departure for Samarkand. We could have left later than noon, but since we had issues in Bukhara when we arrived after some stuff was closed, we decided to leave so that we got to Samarkand when it was still light outside.

As we were walking past the alley with The Pub, a guy just happened to be putting out their sign. He showed us where it was - the name on the building didn't match the sign in any way. So we felt a little better we couldn't find it last night. We were about to sit down, then realized it was only 10:35. We told them we'd be back at 11. To pass the time, we walked west, right along the side of the canal. We went through a residential neighborhood, then turned around and circled back. We found the covered bazaar we'd walked through with Irina the day before - we still weren't sure how we entered it yesterday. We also passed by the oldest mosque in Bukhara. We got back to The Pub right at 11. The menu was in Uzbek, so the proprietor explained it to us. We each wanted the same two things, so we decided to split the Chicken Jiz (fried chicken) and the Dimlangan go'sht (braised beef). We also split a salad of tomato, onion and cucumber (with sprinkled dill), as well as bread and green tea. The lady brought out bunch of different green teas for us to smell and choose. the first two smelled very fruity, almost like fruity bubble gum. We ordered the fruitiest, figuring Justin might drink it. Crystal commented on how simple, yet tasty the salad was. In America, would have put 20 things on there, made it twice as big, and it wouldn't have been anywhere near as tasty. This reminded us of something we'd heard on a Malcolm Gladwell podcast recently, that we need to go back to quality over quantity in our food.

The go'sht was very similar in texture and flavor to corned beef, but even better. The proprietor told us that the meat was cooked in its own fat - no oil, no water, no nothing, just 5-6 hours of cooking. That 5-6 hours of preparation resulted in about 30 seconds for us to eat the two pieces, which fell off the bone. The fried chicken also very good. The total was less than $5 US. After having a memorable taste-to-price meal near Little Hagia Sophia a few days earlier, we'd now had about another 4 since then - this one, the kabobs and onion at the hole-in-the-wall on the way to Bukhara, the lunch on the terrace in Khiva, and the kofte at the Gateway to Hell. We thanked the proprietor profusely, then went back to the hotel just before noon. We grabbed our passports, our bags, and checked out. Firdacz was right outside and we were on our way.

We headed out the same way as going to palace the day before, but today the weather was much better. We had blue skies and the car windows open. The drive to Samarkand was boring, but in a good way. We made only one stop, at a water cistern, for about 5 minutes. The road was fine. The desert was replaced by fields and some greenery. Camels were replaced by cows. There was lots of cotton, plus some other crops. Then the city kind of came out of nowhere. It was very busy relative to Bukhara, which itself was busy relative to Khiva. Our hotel (The Sultan Hotel) was right near a park area and one of the large mausoleums. The sun was out, and it was a nice temperature, so we just dropped stuff and walked around.

We took a 30 second walk over to Gur-e-Amir, which was the mausoleum for Timur. Amir Timur, also known as Tamerlane, was the founder of the Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia. He was born in 1336 in Uzbekistan (at that time called Transoxiana). He gained control of the western half of the Chagatai Khanate (a Kingdom ruled by offspring of Genghis Khan) by 1370, and then used that territory as a base to expand the territory with military campaigns in almost every direction. He not only took land from southern Russia, but also Syria, the Ottomon Empire, Persia (including Shiraz and Isfahan) and even Delhi. He viewed himself as an heir of Genghis Khan, and viewed his work as restoring the glory of the Mongol Empire, even though he wasn't Mongol himself, as his heritage was Persian.

By the end of his reign, Timur had gained complete control over all the remnants of several empires. He ruled over an empire that, in modern times, extends from southeastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, through Central Asia encompassing part of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. To obtain all of this, there are estimates his military caused the deaths of 17 million people, about 5% of the world population at the time. 100,000 to 200,000 were from Isfahan alone, after the people there revolted and killed tax collectors. An eye-witness counted more than 28 giant piles of 1500 heads each. Yet somehow, despite all this, we learned little to nothing about him in school.

Since he was born near Samarkand, and had the capital of his empire in Samarkand, it's not surprising that he was buried here as well. The mausoleum had a strong glare in the late afternoon sun, so we decided we'd check it out a bit more when we came back. We walked through the park in front of Gur-e-Amir and our hotel, and then headed up a busy street to the Registan. The Registan complex is probably the most famous tourist site in Uzbekistan. It is three huge buildings with a huge center area. Lots of it was roped off, so we got photos where we could. We'd figure out what everything actually was tomorrow.

Then we headed north on Tashkent Street, which was pedestrian only. There were lots of stores, but no one in them. Eventually we saw another big complex, with a smaller building across the way. [These were the Bibi-Khanum Mosque and Mausoleum, respectively.] We walked around the perimeter, and thought about going to the bazaar next door, but it looked like it was closing down for the night. So instead we headed back towards Registan. We walked around the perimeter of that as well, then through alleys and parking lots.

It was windy and cool by the time we got back to the hotel. We went out on the rooftop terrace, which had a nice view, but it was too cool to hang out there for any long period of time. We put on some extra layers, then went back out on the town again. We were in search of plov, based on one of the podcast recommendations. The way we heard it on the podcast, it was right next the Gur-e Amir, so we hoped we could find it by just walking around a bit. Justin emailed the podcast host, in the hopes he could get some more detailed information. But it was first thing in the morning in the US, so he didn't expect a quick response, so we headed out and poked around. We couldn't find anything that looked close to what we were looking for, though. So we headed back to Registran Street, and found restaurant (Labi G'or) near the Registran itself.

We got some night photos (like the Gur-e Amir, the Registan was immaculately lit up), then ate at Labi G'or. We both got some lagman soup, plus dumplings for Crystal and plov for Justin. Everything was very tasty, but perhaps the best part was the fireplace. When they took our drink order, Justin ordered vodka and the waiter asked "glass or bottle?" Never having been asked this before, Justin opted for a glass (but then three more). Crystal had a glass of vodka and a glass of wine. We shivered all the way back to the hotel, and went to sleep shortly after getting back.

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