The buffet from the night before did not do Alex any favours. A few hurried trips across the old Bukharan courtyard to the toilet during the night were unfortunately only warning of a whole unfortunate day of illness. We saw a few Medressas and the main tourist sights during the morning (pictures for details) before meeting up with Graham and Julie (the aforementioned USA/Brit couple) for a walk to the farmers’ market and an Uzbek style burger for lunch.
I walked into a particular Medressa to be greeted by two highly insistent and erudite females:
Two Highly Insistent and Erudite Females: “Mister! Ticket!”
Nicolas: “Oh, I did not realise I needed one, what is inside?”
THIEF: “Museum, Mosque, traditional, very pretty! 1300 Som”
N: “OK, no problem, I will go elsewhere”
As I am leaving,
THIEF: “Mister! For you , special price, Uzbek price: 1200 Som”
N: “No thank you!”
As I leave, again,
THIEF: “Mister! OK, no money, come in. You happy, me happy!”
And with a lovely smile I was led straight into her shop which was not, as it turned out, neighboured by either a Mosque nor a museum!
As Alex spent most of the afternoon in bed ruing last night’s anonymous meat, I toured the town and admired the majestic architecture, carpets and other crafts which cover it. Alex and I have since resolved to cover (we hope) our future houses in some of these carpets, many made with such care, quality and beautiful designs as to make even us – presently the least likely of buyers – wonder if we could pack them on our bikes! My touring was only interrupted a couple of times by finding various groups of locals playing that classic Soviet card game: Durak. All too pleased for a foreigner to join them, I always oblige and usually get soundly beaten by their impressive speed and card counting skills!
I went out into the new town with Mubinjon for dinner in the evening, though not before he had dealt with Alex… The drama is impossible to replicate here, but it was quite something to see and even more, I am sure, to experience. After at least an hour of animated acting to explain the success of his techniques, Mubinjon ordered me to go and buy some honey to massage Alex’s stomach. The difficulty was that to be allowed this treat, Alex had to drink, within ten minutes, a litre of boiling hot tea. Not very complicated, it seems, but within seconds his tongue was scalding, then his throat, and shortly after his whole face and chest dripping with sweat. Mubinjon kept him going with his look of utter disappointment that Alex would not (understandably from where I was sat) finish in ten minutes.
The purpose of this torture? To make Alex throw up, which he did, expediting any remaining microbes into the Bukhara sewage and exchanging his illness with a burnt tongue. Asking Alex to recount the evening is recommended, though don’t expect a reenactment!