Khiva is said to have been founded by Shem, son of Noah. Lonely Planet describes Khiva as a living museum, and that is probably not far off the mark. It had a reputation during its silk route times of slavery and cruelty, and some local museums show that part of its history.When you first enter through one on the mud-walled gates and see the twisting dirt alleyways haphazardly winding through the walled city and see the simple adobe construction throughout, you realise you are somewhere special. The residents are wandering around the markets. The cute little kids are riding their bikes, laughing and chasing one another through the streets, in a background that could be a thousand years old.
The city is neat and clean and the people in it are relaxed and happy living in an ancient monument yet thinking nothing of it. There are tourists here, but not many, as summer is low season. Too hot!
Jeff and I wandered around the streets enjoying seeing the colourful women, happy, playing children and an amazing old architecture. Khiva old town,is only a mile top to bottom, so it is easy to see. We dropped in for great coffee and tea at a local coffee shop described in lonely planet as having best coffee in town but overpriced. $2.50 it cost us in total for a coffee and tea! Exorbitant!?
er midday, After midday, C-YA and the Quokkavan set off for Bukhara 460 kms away.
We thought we had seen bad roads in Turkmenistan over the Karakum desert. Uzbekistan’s E40 highway is a shocking, bone jarring, car destroying, sand blown,teeth rattling, potholed (even the potholes have potholes) track to Bukhara. There was, after 100kms, a section of European standard, 4 lane divided highway. Super smooth. We relaxed and felt we would get there in no time. However it abruptly ended and deteriorated into a sand covered, wind blown, eruption of potholes and missing tarmac, full of massive trucks, weaving side to side to miss potholes. Our speed fell from 120kph to 30 kph.It was over 300 kms long. It was exhausting. The 460 km journey took nearly 8 hours.
We had a half hour break at a truck stop along the way, soup, bread, meat and rice (it could have been horse) and ice-creams. Staff did not understand a word of english but by pointing, smiling, saying we are Australian, and their saying, kangaroo, Sydney, Melbourne. We all got along famously.People here are genuinely nice and hospitable.
We did have a moment of surprise when we had pulled over to take a photo of the river that separates Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, in that we were told to leave and not take photos by a couple of heavily armed Uzbek soldiers patrolling the border. They are sensitive about photographing their borders.
Exhausted, we pulled into Bukhara, only to be stymied 200m from our hotel by one way roads. A elderly local man saw us looking at our maps, poked his head in the window and without a common language between us, he worked out where we wanted to go. He hopped into the Quokkavan and guided us to our hotel. Lovely people the Uzbeks!
After settling in, we head off to a local icon restaurant across the road from our hotel. It was alive with music, lights, fountains and alfresco dining around a large central pond.
We sat by the water and had some local Uzbek wine with our food. The bill was 167,000 som. Check out our cash payment!
Tomorrow we explore Bukhara in the morning before the short (we hope) drive to Samarkand.
C-YA Andrew and Jeff
Mongolia Charity Rally 2015