Kokand

Again we had been to Kolkand in 2012. It is another of those "passing through" sort of places, but it does have an attraction to tempt those passing through - the Kahn's Palace.

Crossing the border from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan was, as always, difficult. The Uzbek border guards are the most disagreeable in Central Asia. They pull your baggage apart whether you are entering or leaving the country, they examine information on your ipad or your camera, examine suspiciously your Imodium tablets and take their time doing it. To get 12 people in or out of Uzbekistan takes 1.5 to 2 hours, for luggage examinations and passport checks by army, police and civil service.

The Uzbek guide was over an hour late, but Jude had arranged a tea stop for us on emerging from the functionarios on the border. The boys enjoyed some Kendal Mint Cake that Maggie had brought from the UK. And the Uzbek guide took an immediate shine to Emma, that continued unabated for our entire stay in Uzbekistan

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Silk Production

Along the road we stopped at the silk production and weaving factory. I thought that this was a tourist rip off place when we were here 4 years ago, and today's visit confirmed my earlier scepticism. The real factory is elsewhere, this is the old one, and there are hardly any machines actually operating. Basically they man it not to make silk, but to entertain tourists. Still at least if you do not know how they make silk this gives the low down from first principles

But I did think that it was odd that we did not visit the Rishton Pottery which impressed us more, in 2012, than the silk factory. We were told that Rishton was a tourist trap, and the real work was done elsewhere. Given the silk place is a bigger con, I found it difficult to accept the rationale at leaving out Rishton. We liked the Rishton pottery! and were extremely disappointed that the scheduled visit there was axed.

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Khudayar Khan Palace

This was the palace of the last ruler of the Kokand Khanate, Khudayar Khan. The palace complex, built in 1871, occupied a total area of four acres with a foundation three meters thick. It was constructed with a high portal, a highly decorated large entrance arch, and four minarets. Surrounded by a carved stone wall, the palace consisted of seven courtyards and one hundred and nineteen rooms. The inscription above the main gate reads: "Great Seyed Mohammad Khudayar Khan".

Constructed by sixteen thousand conscripted or enslaved workers using one thousand carts to transport materials, the eighty master builders designed and built an ornate structure of variegated colours and rich ornaments with geometric patterns, arabesques, and floral motifs all made from ceramic tiles and based on tales of the Orient. Restoration work was carried out in 2008

Today only two courtyards and nineteen rooms survive and function as a museum of local history with an exhibition about the past and present of Kokand.

We passed this wedding group having photos taken in the park - these bridal groups were something we saw quite a lot of during our journey across Asia. As everywhere in Central Asia, the locals were as curious about us, as we were about them. We ended up having our own photos taken a great many times

Then we had a bit of trouble getting in to the palace - the front door was locked. But eventually it was opened, and we were shown round by the museum director, a very educated lady who spoke perfect English

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A stroll through the town to get dinner in the evening.

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Kahn Hotel

I probably would not have rated this hotel as highly if it had not been in Kokand, where there is little hotel choice The hotel is fairly basic, and does not have a lift, so you have a bit of exercise if you are on the 4th floor. The breakfast is nothing memorable, but the rooms are clean and the staff (who speak English) were very helpful. The wifi works

The big plus of the hotel is that it is centrally situated, and only 5 minutes walk to the Kahn Palace - most of the way being across a public park So if you are staying in Kokand, you are, at the moment, not likely to find a better hotel than the Kahn.

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On to next town- Tashkent

Back to Overall Itinerary for Silk Road Trip 2016