I'm sitting in the most extraordinary blue garden. Stunning azure, turquoise, cerulean, cobalt, lapis and indigo blues. A profusion of plants, vines and swirling arabesques in mosaic, majolica and sculpted friezes decorate this sacred street of tombs: The Sahi-i-Zinda in Samarkand. For me, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and the Silk Road have always conjured up magical images of fabled oriental cities with golden walls and shimmering turquoise domes. I am in awe of what Tamerlane, with his finest architects, created in Samarkand - it is truly spectacular. In Bukhara I love the chaos of the colourful bazaars, the discovery of ornate madrassas round every corner and down every winding labyrinth-like street and relaxing on the charpois (divans) drinking tea around the pools of the Labi Hauz Square.
It's exciting to be where caravanserai merchants traded precious gems, spices, pearls, paper, perfumes, pelts, linens and woolens and especially lustrous silk from China - at one time worth more than gold. The 9th century rock drawings at Saramysh George are fascinating, stylish and imaginative. Khiva appearing like a giant sandcastle in the Kyzlkum desert, its 8m thick walls protecting its spectacular, medieval, feudal, oriental city, is like an open air museum. The Savisky Museum in Nukus with its 90,000 paintings is a must visit. The Fergana Valley is shere every aspect of silk production, fabric drying, embroidery, carpet weaving and ceramics takes place and for me, the most wonderful finish to an extraordinarily beautiful and alluring part of the Silk Road, providing rich inspiration for colour and design. In the words of Omar Khayyam "Samarkand the most beautiful fact that the earth ever turned towards the sun". Thanks to The Innovative Travel Company for this alluring journey on the Silk Road.
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