Turkestan
(KAZAKHSTAN)


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Our next country is Kazakhstan. To complicate matters, the first place we visit is called Turkestan.  And there is a university for Turkish people, probably attracted by the name? Anyway, that's the reason for the Turkish flag next to the Kazakh flag.

Kazakh and Turkish flag

These girls speak very good English

The children learn English in school, and they liked to talk to us. With their lesson book we had a nice conversation. And we could need some help, at the restaurant they only had a menu in Russian.
Kohza Akhmed Yasaui mausoleum

The mausoleum, seen from our hotel

The main reason to visit Turkestan is the Kozha Akhmed Yasaui mausoleum. He was a Sufi teacher, who retired to an underground cell at the age of 63, in mourning of the prophet Mohammed who had died at this age. The tomb of Kozha Akhmed Yasaui was already a place of pilgrimage when Timur ordered a far grander mausoleum to be built here.

You visit Turkestan not for the grandeur of the building: the ones in Samarkand are much more beautiful, both outside and inside.

But Turkestan is unique because of the pilgrims coming here. Lots of people visit this place to honour the Sufi teacher, and it is nice to see that. As a tourist, you feel a bit out of place, but not unwelcome.

Women on a bench

Pilgrims

Wooden sticks

Nice coat

Those shock absorbers are history ! Our bus, although built in Holland, was not as reliable as we had hoped it would be. They might call this the Silk Road, but it doesn't mean the drive is smooth as silk. Especially when the shock absorbers broke down. Fortunately our driver was also a good mechanic, as we did not like the idea of hitchhiking for several hundreds of kilometers.

Kazakhstan road

Bride at Aysha-Bibi mausoleum

At one of the mausoleums, an Imam was passing out bread, to share in the luck of the newly wed couple. Which we joyfully accepted; we wished them all the luck in the world (and were also a bit hungry after all the trouble with the bus).

Close to Taraz, where we stayed the night, lies the mausoleums of Aysha-Bibi and Babazhi Katun. This is also a place where newly weds come for a blessing. The story of Aysha-Bibi is very romantic: a girl had to wait a long time before her lover came home. When she heard the news he finally came, she ran all the way to him. From love and exhaustion her heart broke when she met him, and she died in his arms.

The bride's sisters


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