Trans Eurasia travel

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Ismoil Somoni Street

On the right hand side of the Ismoil Somoni Street going westwards, about 150m from the Presidential Palace is the Writers' Union Building, with sculptures on the facade of great figures in Persian literature, Aini, Firdausi, Omar Khayyam and others.

After another 150m on the right is the Ampitheatre and water park. There is a very ornate arch for decoration. It is a venue for meetings and concerts. There are fine views of the Jezira University and the mountains beyond.

A further kilometre on the right is the Zoo. These were popular throughout the Soviet Union, and in its heyday had animals from every continent and all species from Central Asia. In the civil war, with acute food shortages, the animals were either eaten, or starved to death. It is now a sad, rather smelly place, with cramped cages of local animals, mainly bears.

Over the bridge that divides the "Centre" of town from the other districts, you come to Komsomol, or Friendship Park, which has a large lake with pedaloes, pleasant walks, and shashlyk stalls.

Overlooking the park is the Hyatt Regency Hotel, with top of the range facilities expected of this international chain. Next to it is a giant cboikhona, with many domes. Opposite is the magnificent Ismaili Centre - a very impressive example of modern architecture incorporating traditional themes and high quality craftsmanship. Well worth a visit.

A further three hundred metres on the left is the Circus, a permanent building that once housed a vibrant permanent local circus, and was a venue for touring circuses from other parts of the Soviet Union. It is now very run down, but the circus tradition is maintained by enthusiast, Asheer Rajabov, who runs a circus school there. The students give demonstrations on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, when visitors are welcome. The entrance is round the back.

On Sundays a Bird Market is held on a street, leading from Karamov Street, on the opposite side to the Diagnostic Clinic.