Please accept my apologies for not writing earlier to thank you very much indeed for all you did in arranging our wonderful trip to Uzbekistan recently. The itinerary worked out very well with one small exception for the timing of the drive from Bukara to Shahrisabz, which took a good four hours in total travelling time but with a couple of stops on the way, one for me to be photographed on a shepherd's donkey whilst he smiled showing off his set of gold teeth, it actually took five hours in total and we arrived in Samarkand a bit later than initially planned.
The trip was memorable in so many ways not only for its historical interests but also the interest in the country due to our interest in farming and the use made of the land, with the associated problems with restrictions on water availability and the contaminating effects of the wind blown sand with it's high salt content from the drying Aral Sea. We understand that they are now restricting farmers to a maximum of just 70% of their land for growing cotton,their main export, as it has such a high demand for water.
We were very impressed with the wonderfully restored Mosques and Madresers. We found it unusual to see these very impressive buildings fully restored back to their fifteenth centry glory, as we are much more used to preserving our historic past rather than restoring it. It just goes to prove just how very proud the Uzbecks are of their heritage.
I won't bore you further with all the details of our holiday as you have been there to see for youself and I'm sure you too will have some of the memories we will always have which are:
The friendliness of the people,the feeling of complete safety when walking about in the cities, the cleanliness of the town and country,the colourful dresses of the ladies and not a veil in sight, the smartness of everyone's dress particularly the students on their way to school or university. The wonderful driving of our driver Hussein as he avoided the potholes of the country roads and the chaotic traffic in the cities. As a keen driver myself I was well aware he needed eyes in the back of his head as well as you could never tell which direction the car in front was going to avoid the next pothole.
Finally the other unusual feature we found on the holiday which we had not come across with quite the same degree of flexibility, was that we were only taking breakfast in the hotels we stayed in ,leaving lunch and dinner to be taken wherever the guide recommended. It gave us the opportunity not only to see many restaurants, including a shed in the middle of the desert run which served up some excellent fish and freshly baked bread, but we were also able to meet with the locals. On one occasion we found ourselves dancing with a family who were celebrating a family Birthday and insisted on buying Murdoch and myself a vodka.
As you can now tell we all had a great time in Uzbekistan and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a new experience. Elsa and I have been very fortunate in having visited over forty countries since we retired in 2003, and on this occasion we were considering going to an area of the world we had not been to before. It just so happened that I was sitting next to a man on a flight back from Vienna last December, who worked in the area and knew Uzbekistan fairly well. Elsa say's I talked all the way back to Heathrow and as far as I was concerned the decision was made as to where we should go next.
Thanks once again for all your help in bringing our plans to fruition.