We spent the whole morning at the carpet bazaar being shown gorgeous carpets, kilims and camel bags. I bought a dark red Kuchi prayer kilim, butter soft and showing signs of 40 years of use. I love it with a passion. We also bought a tourist “war carpet” with a MIG fighter design. Haggling was mandatory but politely done over lots of chatting and chai.
The afternoon was taken up resting (we all needed a break) and watching the Olympics on the hotel TV. Then we negotiated fearsome security at the Nazaryn Hotel – high metal fences, metal detectors, armed guards and x-ray machines – for dinner. This is where the NGOs and security mercenaries stay. We shared a table in the canteen style restaurant with 6 massive Russians who were bemused by us being there. The buffet was expensive but we were glad to have a choice of food. A spinach and bean dish was lightly spiced and a courgette and tomato stew had a lot of chili in it. Great. The lads complained that there weren’t enough chips, so another batch was made for them.