Brooklynites in Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Monday, October 20, 2014.

“This will be the first time I don’t take pictures of my food,” said the older American man across from me at the dinner table, back at the Antica B&B where I was staying. He had just come from spending a few days in a remote, less-frequented village in the mountains, and it was a culture shock for him to be seated at a proper dinner in civilization, with other people. It was a bigger shock that in our conversation, we found out that he was not only American, and not only from New York, but also from Brooklyn. “By relocation,” he said.

His name was Jonathan, and was traveling independently in Uzbekistan for a couple of weeks. He too had friends that thought he was crazy to go to such a country, even his wife, but he assured them that it was perfectly fine place to go.

We dined on the home-cooked meal prepared for us, and chat over a couple of beers. Needless to say, he became my BFFN.

Getting my dolma on. (Vegetables stuffed with rice and meat.)

“Wow this is just amazing,” my BFFN Jonathan from Brooklyn said. “Where else could you just walk out to this?”

Our B&B Antica was just a 30-second walk to the Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum, and having just arrived in Samarkand, he hadn’t seen it yet. I told him I wanted to check it out after dinner to see it lit up.

Officially the site was closed, but there’s no closed gate. We walked in and started shooting photos until the night guard approached us. “Ticket?” he asked me.

“I have mine from before,” I told him and showed him.

“Three thousand for pictures.”

“What if I don’t want to take pictures?” I said. That threw him for a loop.

“Your friend?” he asked me, pointing at Jonathan shooting pictures.


He made him buy a ticket, “Good for three days.” Then he had a change of heart. “Photos, free.”

Funny, I didn’t pay the first time for photos, but was happy to not have to pay a bribe for being there off hours. And lucky for us, the door to the inside was still open.

“There’s no one here!” Jonathan raved. We had the Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum to ourselves. Well, us and the dead guys.

Jonathan was amazed, and I was too, even the second time around. “This is spectacular,” he said. “It’s almost kitschy because it’s so over the top. Islamic baroque.”


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Next entry: Thanks to My Uzbek Connection

Previous entry: My Crown Jewel of Samarkand

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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Next entry:
Thanks to My Uzbek Connection

Previous entry:
My Crown Jewel of Samarkand


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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