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Holy Nurata and Overnight Stay in a Yurt Camp

In the morning we drove from Bukhara to Nurata. Since our truck is still not with us our leader Jason arranged alternative transportation for us. He rented a posh air-conditioned coach which was very comfortable but also gave me the feeling of being an all-inclusive tourist rather than a low budget world traveler.

On the way to Nurata we ran into a funeral. Maybe one hundred men, all wearing a black hat, were carrying a coffin on the middle of the road. The crowd blocked us for maybe 15 min until it reached the cemetery.

We arrived in Nurata around lunch time. The town is famous for three things. One of them is the Nurata Suzani which is a traditional circle patterned textile. Another one is a mosque from the tenth century which we visited briefly. It also seemed the main attraction wasn’t the mosque itself but the Chashma Springs formed here. There was a small pool with lots of fish in it which was considered as “holy fish”. Although I asked our guide and a couple of my fellow travelers who intensively study guidebooks, I didn’t manage to find out why the fish is considered holy. Probably there is nothing really holy about this fish and the term “holy fish” just sounds more dramatic. The place is also considered holy because many of the people buried here claimed to have seen the Prophet Muhammad which attracts a number of Muslim pilgrims.

The third thing Nurata is famous for is the military fortress which was built by Alexander the Great. There is actually not much to see. You basically can only climb a hill where the fortress used to be on. There you cannot see any real ruins but you a have nice view over the town. All in all Nurata wasn’t worth the visit and you should only go there if you are either Muslim and really appreciate the holiness of the place or you have a special interest in Persian history.

Our home for tonight was a yurt camp in the sand dunes close to the Aydar Lake. From here some people went on a camel ride in the afternoon. Since I don’t enjoy riding any kind of animal I had a nap instead. My body was still suffering from the cracked neck I caught a few days ago in Turkmenistan and appreciated the additional rest.

Staying in a yurt is pretty comfortable although not much different from a tent. There is no heating, no electricity and no light. You sleep on the ground on a thin mattress and when the night is cold you need additional protection such as a layer of thermals, a fleece and thick socks.

What is also comfortable about a yurt stay is the local people, who operate the yurt camp, preparing the food for you. For dinner we had a cabbage based salad, soup and a rice dish with meat which was very delicious. Only the bread was hard like stone, as all bread in this country, and you could rather slay somebody with it then eating it. With dinner we also got served a bottle of vodka per table. The local people really seem to drink vodka as people back home drink beer or vine.

After dinner we all sat around a camp fire listening to traditional Uzbek songs. They all sounded very sad and depressing but interesting. My fellow traveler Paul from Canada, who is in the age of 21, also noticed a whole bunch of female travelers sitting right next to our leader Jason while I was the only one sitting next to him. Paul is a pretty cool guy I enjoy hanging out with. He’s intelligent, good-looking and very much fun. Unfortunately most females on the trip are much older than Paul and therefore seem to be attracted by the 41 year old Jason. For them it’s a kind of exotic holiday romance and very exciting while I’m continuously on the move since many years, know how to arrange for my own entertainment and therefore don’t need to line up with a bunch of chicks.

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