Central Asia: Uzbekistan - Short Stopover at Nurata

By Cubie - January 23, 2016

We decided to give ourselves a break from medressa and mosques so we decided to go up to the mountains. After taking into consideration of time and transport factor, we decided to hire a car to get us to our destinations, get a night of homestay and a night of yurt camp. We did this via a local company name Responsible Travel. I won't link up the company because my anti-virus highlighted the site as dangerous link (so does sis'). For full disclosure, I don't find the service wow for a few reasons.

1. The driver was late by about 30 mins. This might not be a very big thing but throughout our 3 weeks in Central Asia, every single drivers we encounter were punctual or early. No one was late, except this one. When we brought this up, the person in charge told us that he was a last minute driver they engage that morning because the original driver was sick; however the PIC actually emailed my sis the night before with this driver's name, so...

2. The first stop in our itinerary was at Gijduvan to visit a ceramic workshop by one of the most famous ceramics in Uzbekistan. The driver skipped this place totally. Usually we are not big on visiting factories or shopping places but pottery is an essential crafts in Central Asia and the ceramics are beautiful.

3. The driver asked us if he could smoke in the car, sis answered him no but he went ahead and light his cigarette. The driver from Kochkor to Bishkek is also a smoker but he finished up before he gets in the car.

4. We were told the tour guide was very professional and fully qualified. Maybe he is but he appeared very half-hearted, hardly talks and did not come across as enthusiastic at all.

Initially we were told to pay to the half hearted tour guide but given the poor experience we had with the driver, we negotiated not to pay till the last day. They insisted we pay first but agreed after we told them that the driver didn't bring us to Gijduvan. We were also given a discount off the price (we had every intention to ask for a discount if they didn't offer us too! :p)

To be honest, we have also found that Raxmat from Yahsigul Guesthouse (the homestay host up at Asraf village) could do the transport transfer without going through Responsible Travel... just saying. I'll provide the contacts on the blog post on homestay in Nuratau Mountain.

Let's go back to Nurata... lol...
After departing Bukhara, our intended itinerary was stopping at Gijduvan, then Nurata and continue to Yurt Camp. Well as explained in length above, what actually happened was Bukhara to Nurata, then to Yurt Camp at Kyzyl Kum Desert.

Nurata is a small town in the foothills of Nuratau Mountains. It is about 200 km from Samarkand  and is the administrative center in Navoi region.

First thing first, once we reached Nurata we had lunch at the tour guide's house.

Tour guide's house
Al-fresco dining

His mother and sister make suzani for sale. So after meal we were shown some suzani and of course, if we are interested could purchase them. We were a bit low on funds then and we bought a couple of cushion cover in Bukhara so no shopping for us.

Pomegranate design

After lunch we started our sightseeing in Nurata. Nurata is said to mean "Ray of Father". According to legend, long long timem ago a fire rock fell from the sky and when it hit the ground, a spring of healing water appeared at the same spot; hence the name Nurata.

There are not many sights in Nurata, one of it is an old fortress of Alexander the Great.

According to the tour guide, there is where the fortress is located...
View from supposedly Alexander's fortress
Beneath Alexander's fortress is a pool, a mosque and a mausoleum. The other famous sight in Nurata is the Chasma Spring. It is said that this spring is formed when Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law Hazrat Ali drove his staff into the ground. The locals believe that the fishes in the spring is "dirty" as it cleans the things in the pool. 

There's also a small museum exhibiting clothes, ceramics or photos... not really exciting actually.

We walked passed the mosque and our tour guide did not even ask if we want to enter and have a look. He was just heading back to the car in his disinterested face. We decided that since we are in Nurata, we want to see the mosque, so we told him we were going in to the mosque. :P

The initial plan was that we don't get a tour guide after Nurata but after the incident of missing a stop and us not paying them yet, the boss decided to get this disinterested looking tour guide to follow us all the way to the desert yurt camp. Um, yes, us the troublemakers. :P

Side note: Where on earth did my new found habit of drinking coffee after dinner come from... lol...

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  1. What a great spread of food!

    I like the cushion covers too.

    1. Yes - I'll say that we ate well in Central Asia. Lol..
      Hehe..yes, I have 2 cushion covers on my sofa now.. Grin