In the morning first we visited the old city walls and two mosques. There are five daily prayers that depend on the sun and geography. Otabek explained how the time of prayer could be fixed without astronomical calculation. The first prayer is when you start to see the difference between a black and white thread in the morning, the second at sunrise, the third at 13:15 when the shadow of a person is the shortest, the forth at sunset, the fifth when you start to be unable to distinguish a black from a white thread in the evening.
From the two mausoleums we visited, the Ismail Samoni Mausoleum is a real jewel. It was completed in 905. It has exquisite baked terracotta brickwork and is a perfection in itself. It is in excellent condition and has never needed to be restored because of its solid 2m thick walls.
Then we enjoyed a lazy afternoon. We went to the Silk Road tea house where I had tea with ginger and cardamom and Philippe with saffron. In the afternoon we went to the hamam. That was quite an experience! Men and women go to separate hamams of course. All the six ladies from our group went together. We were welcomed by an elderly lady, got undressed and went to a simple octagonal wash room made with stones and stone niches. We were greeted by her daughters who took care of us individually. The washing ritual is done by them and begins with buckets of hot water that are poured over you and a vigorous peeling of the whole body, followed by a massage of the back. Then a honey-herb mixture is put on your back and you lay on a wet towel on the warm wet floor for a while to let the substance take its effect. Chantal and I were the last of our group and while we were laying on the floor we could hear nothing but the sound of running water and buckets being emptied for washing two other ladies and cleaning the place. It was relaxing and felt somehow comforting. I liked the simplicity of it. One of the two other ladies was Virginia from Arizona. She was an art teacher and had spent one month at an university in Kasachstan in a exchange program for sculpture and pottery with a group of other teachers.
In the evening we went to a private home for dinner in a beautiful garden. Our host was a young lady with two young sons. A relative who is an accountant did the service. The garden was beautifully maintained with lovely flowers and there was a whole menagerie with a little dog, a hunting cat, hens and a couple of budgies. The food was excellent, especially the stew with potatoes, cabbage and carrots in a pottery that came out of the oven.