asalamu-alakum! from Samarkand, where we have been spending enough time in medrassas to make the US Department of Homeland Security sweat through their collective collared shirt. Okay, none of these ancient Islamic schools here are anything extreme except beautiful to behold; they were built hundreds of years ago, and now serve only as monuments for tourists to ogle.
And they are stunning. The most famous is a trio at the heart of this ancient city, collectively called the Registan (“place of sand”). The former tiny classrooms have been taken over by craft shops peddling all of Uzbekistan’s gorgeous handiwork, from silk carpets to embroidered pillowcases to scissors with bird-shaped handles and more. The whole scene is classy, though. (At tourist spots in China, food vendors reign supreme, so you can buy a hot dog on a stick and a tea egg at any famous site you like. And the ground underfoot often shows it. Here, no snacks are sold inside the sights, and all is clean and quiet.)
We wandered in and out of the elaborately-painted and filigreed nooks until we were too hot to wander further, and then we rested in the shade with fizzy water (ubuquitous here). And Owen played with his newest acquisition: a hand-carved wooden camel with a tiny replica camel inside, to make sure he remembers that we’re still on the Silk Road.