Beshparmak in Sayram    

Image for Entry 1217752763 It might just be the hotel but we spent last night being attacked by mosquitoes. We tried to block up every hole and crack they could be entering through. Rowshan smashed one after another. We thought he'd gotten them all, then we'd find more. Finally, after being awakened in the middle of the night by mosquitoes dive bombing us, we hung a mosquito net. Still, it wasn't a restful night.

We had planned to go to Sayram in the morning so we followed the directions in LP to a minibus stop where we were supposed to be able to catch a minibus to Sayram. The stop was supposed to be near the central bazaar. We walked through the street marked on the map but there was no sign of bazaar or minibus. We asked around and no one knew about the stop. We decided to see if anything ran on the east -west running street marked on the map as going to Sayram. But, as we hurried along, there was a "DONG!" sound and Rowshan fell to the ground. There was a small trickle of blood running down his nose. He had hit his head on a cast iron door decoration which stuck out over the street and was painted black, making it almost invisible.

We tried to clean the gash and ease the bruising using a frozen water bottle. It was then I decided, that since we didn't sleep well, couldn't find the minibus stop, and now Rowshan was injured, we needed to put off the trip and head to a coffee shop instead.

On our way to the cafe, we passed a polyclinic where for about $4.50, a doctor checked Rowshan's injury, cleaned the wound, and prescribed an ointment for the bruising and a bright green antibiotic for the cut. All fixed up, we were on our way, Rowshan sporting a bulky white bandage over the bridge of his nose. When he removed it he revealed a bright blue green spot giving him the appearance of some crazy Indian guru.

After coffee and relaxation, we decided to once again search for the minibus stop. We figured if we didn't find it, at least we'd get a look at the bazaar. We walked to the place marked bazaar on the map and found a huge park. Across from this (another spot marked bazaar on the map), was a big fountain/pool with a mini beach.

We questioned more people about the bazaar and minibus stop and got various confused answers. Some would tell us to take a certain bus but when we asked the bus driver, he replied he didn't go there and that we should take a taxi. Finally, someone pointed up the hill to where the bazaar was.

Strangely, it was empty. I asked a shop owner who replied it would be open August 7. We left and asked someone else about getting to Sayram and got another rather convoluted answer:
Tamia: Where is the stop for minibuses to Sayram?
Man: Why do you want to go to Sayram?
T: To look around.
M: Sayram? Oh do you want to see the monuments?
T: Yes. Monuments and buildings.
M: So you want to go to Sayram and see the monuments?
T: Yes. Where is the minibus stop?
M: You take a bus from that bus stop then catch a minibus from the bus station.
T: So there is no minibus stop here?
M: No.
As we were walking past some shops, some young guys said, "Hello" and a couple other snippets of English. Rowshan asked them about the minibus to Sayram but their English didn't extend that far. One of the girls working turned out to be from Sayram. She was Uzbek so Rowshan spoke to her in Azeri. As they were talking another girl came up who was Tajik (so Rowshan could speak Farsi to her). Soon we had specific directions. Occasionally the boys would stand up to try to add something but Rowshan said jokingly, "No. Not you. Sit down."

The directions were: take bus 19 to the Ayni Bazaar where there is a bus station. From there we could catch a minibus to Sayram. It was a simple answer that took more than half a day and 3 different languages to find.

A little later we set off for Sayram. It was about a 1/2 hour drive but for R, who had the wheel of a non-foldable baby carriage on his knee, it felt longer. The edge of Sayram is marked by a roundabout with sculptures of giant clay pots and what might be a 2 wheel cart or maybe a plow. There are also big letters which read Sayram. It still was a few minutes before we reached the gate and center of town. At first glance, it just seemed like a typical village center with shops, a bazaar, taxi shop and minibuses.

We followed the LP instructions and came to the ruins of a mosque where only a minaret remained. The minaret was of bricks with a rounded top and stairs winding up it. Behind was a small field of corn and rows of flowers. It was called the Kydyra Minaret and according to LP was probably from the 10th century.

I walked out the gate where a man was watering the plants. He asked me where I was from. I said I was from the U.S. but my husband was from Iran. I asked him if it was his garden. He said it was and I complimented him on it. As Rowshan came out, the man invited us to tea. Rowshan explained we had to rush to see everything since the last minibus was at 8. We walked back through town to the Karashash Ana Mausoleum, the burial place for Akhmed Yasaui's mother.

As we approached the slightly tilted brick building, we saw a group of men standing and sitting under a tree. They waved us to come in. They were Uzbek so soon Rowshan was chatting away with them. They said that Sayram had lots of Uzbeks. "Like Turkistan," Rowshan said and one replied that Uzbeks like to live in historic, cultural places , like Southern Kazakhstan. They invited us to have tea but we told them we had to catch the 8PM minibus and still hadn't seen everything. One responded that after 8 we could catch a shared taxi easily. We told him we'd maybe swing by later after we had seen the other sights. We visited the Mirali Bobo Mausoleum then walked to another graveyard where we saw the Abd al Aziz Baba Mausoleum.

There we encountered another friendly person watering flowers. He also invited us for tea.

We headed back to Karashash Ana. Our friends were in a little house next to the mausoleum. The family was sitting down for a dinner of beshparmak (5 fingers). We were offered some and tried to refuse but soon a plate was served to us and we sat down at the table which rested on a raised carpeted platform. We received a demo how to eat it with "five fingers" and R tried while I ate with a fork.

Then as 8 flitted past we had tea and told them a little about our travels and life in the U.S. They asked the usual question: Do you have children and with our negative answer, one made a rather graphic movement with his body saying Rowshan "Needs to be working harder." They also suggested that Rowshan get a 2nd wife to which he replied I would kill him. This aside, we had an enjoyable evening. One of them men took us to the shared taxi stop and arranged for us to be dropped off at our hotel.

As we were getting ready for bed, there was a knock on the door and one of the women who worked in the hotel informed us we needed to be out of the hotel around 11 AM because they were spraying for mosquitoes.

For our part, R found another drain hole in the room hidden by the TV and covered it which seemed to reduce the mosquitoes in the room drastically. It must have been their main entrance.

[ View 2 Comments | ]

gul abut - posted on 9/19/2008
It is very interesting to read you trip. I envy both of you how you travel freely.

looking forward to

Irina - posted on 3/15/2009
Have to yet read the text file print out of your stay in Toncaris, looking forward to that. Was jealous of the pictures you got there. I was there a month later, and loved it.

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