The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Viii Ambassadors Return

Persian cities

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On Wednesday, the 10th of December, they crossed the great river of Biamo {River Oxus - Amu Darya} in boats. On the banks there were great plains of sand, and the sand was moved from one part to another, by the wind, and thrown up in mounds. In this sandy waste there are great valleys and hills, and the wind blew the sand away from one hill to another, for it was very light; and on the ground, where the wind had blown away the sand, the marks of waves were left: and men could not keep their eyes on this sand, when the sun was shining. This road cannot be travelled over, without a guide who knows the marks and signs of the desert, and these guides are called Anchies, and the ambassadors had one of these guides. On this road there is no water, except a few wells sunk in the sand, with vaulted roofs, and surrounded by brick walls, for if they were not covered, the sand would fill them up. The water of these wells is either rain or snow water; and in the last day's journey, they found no water, and they travelled all night; but at the hour of mass they came to a well, and drank, and gave water to their beasts, and they all had much need of it. On Sunday, the 14th of December, they reached a village, and stayed there until Wednesday, when they entered a desert, which was of great extent, being six days journey across, but having more water than the first. Along the road there were low shrubs {Camel thorn}, growing in a sandy soil, and it was very hot. The three last journeys over this desert were very long, for they travelled day and night, and only stopped to feed the men and horses.