Left our cool, sheltered haven, the Hotel Jipek Joli in Nukus, after a breakfast of pizza slices, salami and cheese slices, bread, cakes and fried eggs. We arrived at 0905 and breakfast finished at 0900, but the hotel was very accommodating, and fed us.
We had taken over the courtyard at the side of the hotel, where we securely parked the Land Rover. All our washing on the washing line and Dennis was able to give the old girl a wash, of sorts. She was absolutely smothered in dust. He did a great job, with a limited amount of water. But I feel a waste of time, as after another day on potholed and dusty roads, she’s filthy again.
After setting off, the hotel had pointed us in the direction of the Central Market and a shop selling SIM cards. I managed to find us some fruit and veg. and milk and Dennis set off for a SIM card to provide us with some mobile broadband. My iPad was playing up yesterday and I thought it was “cooked” – it had been getting very hot when being used all the time for directions and wouldn’t work at all. The assistance of my 13 year old grandson, Louis, in England – he’s an IT genius in my book! enabled me to get it going again. Obtaining the SIM card was a tedious process. Passport required and so much “red tape”. Took the best part of an hour.
On the road, at last. Uzbekistan does not do sign posts. They are very limited. It is just over 200kms and a 3 hour drive from Nukus to Khiva. The road was mixed. Some okay, some terrible. For a lengthy part of the journey a new road has been constructed, in sections. However, you can only look at the beautiful, pristine surfaces, not drive on them. Closer to Khiva some new roads too, which seemed to confuse our online maps. Several times we had to ask for directions.
The last part of the road into Khiva was dreadful and we came into the newer part of the city first and wondered wherever the historic sights could be. Driving on, we came across the magnificent mud walls surrounding the old city and at the West Gate, the Alibek Guest House. This is a recommended stopping place for “overlanders” and we immediately met 2 young Spaniards, parked in a van next to us. Their parents had just flown in to spend some time with them, as they have been on the road for 6 months. Also 5 motorcyclists. 2 Dutch, 1 Australian, an Austrian and a Spaniard. Then parked on our opposite side, another Land Rover. A converted ex army ambulance owned by a lovely young Dutch couple.
After dining in the Land Rover, we went for a wander within the old city walls. Absolutely amazing architecture. It was getting dark, though, and while lovely in the cool of the evening with the lights coming on, it was too late for photos or to visit any of the buildings. We bumped into the young Dutch, couple, Jasper and Kim, and as we were passing a Tea House and were all thirsty – you have to drink so much in this climate, we went in for pots of tea. It was fascinatingly listening to the places they have visited and swapping information on future travel plans.
We will explore the old city properly tomorrow, so watch this space.