The Golden Road to Samarkand


15th-Century Religious School in Samarkand. © Fred Lundahl.

During my April trip to Uzbekistan, we had the opportunity to visit many of the places we came to know and love during our residence in the country in the late 1990’s.  We saw the ancient Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva and visited old friends along the way.


Fred at the Market in Urgut, outside of Samarkand.

Tourism is alive and well in Central Asia and, even in April, we saw numerous tour buses along the way filled with foreign tourists.

KHIVA–the hometown of the founder of Zoroastrianism–remains the most restored, with a look of the original walled city…or even better than it ever was.  Although a bit too cleaned up and prettified for my taste, it still has some beautiful mosques, religious schools, and caravansaries and is the source of the wonderful “telpak” hats which are so popular in our shop.


Fred in Telpak in Khiva.

BUKHARA–the middle Silk Road city, has always been a favorite of ours because it is an ancient city that is still occupied by common folks.  In addition to monumental mosques and minarets that were so spectacular that Genghis Khan spared them in his rampage through the area in the 1200’s, the city is filled with old neighborhoods interspersed with beautiful ancient buildings.

Walking down a narrow street, watching school children playing, you turn a corner and suddenly find yourself staring at s 500 or 600-year-old mosque or tomb with an outdoor barbershop or dentist functioning beside it.

Abdullah Badghisi at his Silk Rug Factory in Samarkand. © Fred Lundahl

Abdullah Badghisi at his Silk Rug Factory in Samarkand. © Fred Lundahl

SAMARKAND–is our favorite Silk Road city.  We visited there frequently in the past and still have many friends in Samarkand.  Our good friends and rug mentors, the Badghisi family, run the impressive Silk Rug Factory, a popular tourist stop that is the biggest employer in Samarkand.

Among the VIP’s such as Hillary Clinton and President Putin–whose photographs adorn the walls, you will see Fred and Sharon of


Picture of Sharon and Fred among VIP Pictures in Samarkand Silk Rug Factory. © Fred Lundahl.

Whidbey Island in Uzbek garb, along with a display of a very old carpet fragment which I found in a garbage dump years ago and presented to the family.

Another old friend is a hotelier, Furkhat Rahmanov, with whom we first stayed in 1997, when he was renting out a room or two in his old house in the downtown area of the city.  Over the years, this entrepreneur has built up a small hotel empire by adding on floors to his original house until now his top-floor tea house is the tallest modern structure in his part of the old town.

Traveling the Silk Road has changed since we lived here, with new modern airports.  Samarkand is now connected to the capitol Tashkent by a new bullet train which races along new rail beds, shrinking the rail journey time from the previous six hours to two.  This bullet train service in now in the process of being extended to Bukhara and beyond.


Hotelier Furkat’s Family in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

However, potholes in the Soviet-era asphalt highways remain untouched, I would swear, from our time 15 years ago.  Travel by car, even on major inter-city highways, has become even more bone-jarring and time-consuming than I remember. The potholes even have potholes.


Tamarlane-era Tombs in Samarkand. © Fred Lundahl



Chuck Squires

Fred and Sharon, this brings back memories of the time Tika, Talia, and I traveled the Old Silk Road by van from Tashkent to Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. One of the highlights of our time in Central Asia. Tika and I finally made the Bishkek to Kashgar trip by car in 2006 and enjoyed that, as well. If you ever get to or pass through Southern Oregon, please drop in at our 20-acre farm. We just planted a vineyard 2 weeks ago. When we get to Seattle next, we will contact you. All the best! Chuck


Deedar sharoon and Fred,

To tel u the fact that after reading the blog i wish to fly to these area and see the actual beauty. such a wonderful plae on the earth. a great art to look and appreciate.
Thanks for sharing this beauty and its explanation.

Tucker & Kathryn

It is always a pleasure to view your travels. Thanks for such grand memories.

HatDoc Hull

Wow, such beautiful places to see! Thanks Fred! I must admit that the hats from there are really cool! Send me a picture of anything unusual if you get the time!
I agree that seeing your blog makes me want to go there too!!
HatDoc Hull, Ft Worth, TX


Great photos. I could use a “telpak” in Quebec to keep my ears warm. Pot holes and bullet trains – you have the makings of a tragic country song…


I read your recent post on the Savitsky Collection and it sounds so interesting! To my surprise, I found the documentary on Netflix and ordered it so we can see more of the museum and the people involved in keeping it going. Thanks for your fascinating blogs!


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