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Winding Down from Uzbekistan

Arastan in Suls, Farsi, Riqo, Kufi scripts

My bags, cartons, odd parcels are all unpacked. The clothes have been laundered and put away. The stock is ready to be photographed to go on the web site.

I am back from a fantastic two weeks in Uzbekistan. Being back there, sharing it with a friend, meeting master craftsmen so talented and so humble, eating at family run restaurants that serve the most delicious food, talking to people about their hard but fulfilled lives, seeing the Shah-i-Zinda again has all been wonderful. Working out how one does business there has been well – interesting!

There were many moments that made this trip memorable:

Discovering that Orasta in Uzbek means exactly what Arastan does in Persian – it’s a special compliment used for a woman who has made herself look very attractive and it is used very sparingly. Finding a calligrapher who inscribed Arastan in the four key languages of …

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Day 11: A Royal Breakfast, Bukhara Artisans, Chatty Uzbek Dinner

Coin Necklace

After a rather cold and miserable day in Bukhara, we woke up feeling hungry and ready for a new day. Our lady at Amelia served us breakfast fit for queens. The table was loaded with pancakes, rice porridge, potato pies, sausages, cheese, non, yoghurt – a treat that was tucked in with great enthusiasm by both of us. With all that nutrition in our systems, we set off to explore the many domed (covered) bazaars of Bukhara famous in the good old days for trading gold, spices, prayer caps and more. The walk through the crossroads of these markets gave us leads to master artisans in the area.

We met the master of copper chasing (the art of decorating metal items in relief). His tiny workshop was lined wall-to-wall with his handiwork. Each piece had been meticulously etched three times – which gave every plate its depth and sturdy weight. …

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Day 10: Windchilled in Bukhara!

Hoja Nasruddin's Statue at Lyabi Hauz

We woke up to a cold, frosty morning in Bukhara. There were several versions of what the days weather would be. Predictions ranged from a “mild” minus two to a “cold” minus eight!

All bundled up, we set off to explore the old town. Bukhara was gearing up for a round of Samarkand style reconstruction with working crews on overdrive all over the old town. This was disappointing for Nisha who had memories of the way the old town was before – unspoilt with its own old character and few signs of all this unnecessary polishing.

We started at Lyab-i Hauz: a tranquil old pool that defines the heart of the old town. In summer the old mulberry trees are in full bloom and provide shade to residents and tourists alike. The pool sat there uncomplaining in the midst of the reconstruction activity. It was peaceful and stoic, just like …

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Day 9: Three Show Stoppers, ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ in Shakhrisabz, Rip-off in Bukhara

Lakai panel (red) - Nisha's favourite

The best thing about travel is that, every once in a while, you stumble upon a gem that was nowhere in your to-do list (in Nisha’s case, her to-buy list). We had a really good break when we literally bumped into a display of captivating ceremonial hangings from the Lakai tribe. As we looked at them we were quiet for a while (a rare feat for the both of us); they were so beautiful. The Lakai tribe has played a historic role as horsemen, fighters and brigands in Inner Asia for centuries. Women of the Uzebk Lakai tribes embroider hangings that are exceptional, bold and extremely hard to get. The Arastan collection now has three of these prized pieces (though Nisha says she is not parting with the red one).

Giddy after the day’s find, we decided to cancel our train tickets to Bukhara and take the road instead. We …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

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