One of the most exciting experiences for a traveler to the Silk Road is a traditional bazaar.
In a world where business transactions have become virtually devoid of human contact, Central Asian bazaars remind us of how vibrant and exciting commerce can be. The bazaars are no mere collection of shops. They have always been a dynamic center of the community, a place where goods and produce as well as ideas, news, philosophies, culture and politics are traded.
The bazaars have always been central to life in cities along the Silk Road. They are organized into different sections depending on the type of goods you're looking for. You can find anything here - from fresh fruits and vegetables to fine jewelry and gold embroidery, hand-tempered knives, handmade musical instruments, ceramic bowls and painted cradles. Every item is offered by salespeople who can tell you how it is grown, where it is made or all the intricate details of its history.
Much is still sold in the open air, and bargaining is a way of life over the stacks of fresh fruit and crisp vegetables, dried apricots in the Osh in Kyrgyzstan, brightly decorated rounds of bread in Samarkand, open sacks of exotic spices and honey in Kazakhstan's Green Bazaar in Almaty, plush carpets in Turkemistan's Ashgabad Tolkuchka market, glittering fine jewelry, gold embroidered suzani and ikat print fabrics in the Chorsu Bazaar of Tashkent, or a banquet of colorful ceramics; cobalt and green in Rishton's markets.
If the bazaar is the place to find out the latest news, the chaikhana is the place to discuss it in depth. The serving of tea is a social ritual, and these tea houses are the perfect place to relax with endless cups of green tea and conversation, a savory pilaf or snack of halva or kishmish; tiny dried raisins. There is a pleasant stop in the main park in Tashkent or by the pond at Lyab-i-Khaus in Bukhara, Uzbekistan! Travel the Silk Road!
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