While looking for the historic old city of Khiva yesterday, we were lucky finding the Alibek guesthouse right across the road from the main entrance to the fortified settlement. The offer of accommodation in an air-conditioned room, small self contained but adequate, with a great breakfast thrown in, was accepted. All for the modest sum of Som197,000. £19, or about $40!
According to Lonley Planet, Khiva was allegedly discovered by Shem, son of Noha, who found a water well there. Khiva existed from the 8th Century as a branch of the Silk trading Route. It’s main activity from the 1500’s for the next three centuries, was as a flourishing slave market.
What an impressive monument to sophisticated Muslim architecture it is. Sure, it’s been totally rebuilt, but judging from earlier photos, an accurate restoration. Magnificent. A quick walk around, as it was getting dark and during our wander, met the young Dutch couple who parked their Series 111 Land Rover beside us at the guest house, earlier. So we took ‘Chai’ together in one of the many cool alcoves within the fortification and got chatting about each others experiences so far. They are also going to Vladivostok and we have included their blog site in the Contacts and Links page, off the main menu. Their Land Rover is an ex Dutch military ambulance which they have rebuilt for this expedition. It’s spacious compared with ours ..:). Starts ok too when hot! Jen has covered this already but it’s all worth another mention
A WhatsApp message from Wendy in France to say France beat Belgium. Getting interesting and we are heading for Bukhara tonight. Wouldn’t it be nice to see England beat Croatia!!!! An England – France Final?!!! Who do you support, Wendy and Mike? Have to go with your hearts folks. The good thing is, you cant lose..:).
This morning, after a great night’s sleep and breakfast, Jen and I headed back into the fortress for a better look. Sadly with the amount of interest in the facility, junk (souvenir) stalls are proliferating. Museums of every kind feature but they are not so well presented and without some information background, become boring.
The Hareem. No inhabitants any more but the The Kahn’s (Master), room was impressive and one could sense the entrance, well guarded by African Eunuchs and the twittering inside.
The carpet weaving room of the Natural Arts Museum was most interesting and we watched two girls at different looms weaving silk carpets of exquisite style.
The Uzbeks appear to be a Turkic race. Very different from the Kazakh’s. It’s obvious from examples of their woollen hats and other early martial apparel, a strong Mongolian link. It is difficult to buy diesel here. It seems the majority of commercial vehicles are powered by gas, either propane or methane. So, a word with the guesthouse owner and I am driving his son as a guide, to a back street ‘hole in the wall’ to be given the option of purchasing one of three types of diesel. They are all suspect, but one is clearly a mixture of petrol, oil and diesel, the other two are both dark looking concoctions. My choice was in the sellers opinion, the best. All of these fluids are kept in battered open topped drums and being ladled into jerry cans to achieve some sort of measure. The price, Som 7500 or about US$1/L. Jen bought me a pair of ladies tights earlier for this sort of situation. No, no cross dressing tendencies. The tights are used as some sort of filter for this fluid we are buying. The price, who knows how much I am being extorted but one does not have a lot of bargaining power. While pouring this stuff into a funnel, I thought I smelled petrol and made the point. The seller become quite agitated and proceeded to demonstrate that it was not so, by trying to light a small pool of it! We got about 50L and paid an extortionate price compared with what we have been offered here in Bukhara. I asked my guide on the way back to the guesthouse to pick Jen up, what is the road to Bukhara like? Flat top, new road he said. Yeah right! The 200k’s in the middle were great, a new dual carriageway…but it ended abruptly in the middle of nowhere still 150k’s short of Bukhara. It took us about two and a half hours to drive the last bit. It’s already getting dark. We had intended to make the 450k’s a two day affair but with no shade or habitation at 4pm, we pushed on. The Dutch couple Kim & Jasper had left Khiva hours before us and we got a message from them saying they were at the Rumi Guesthouse. Great, as like the light, our attempts to find accommodation were fading.
As I write this now, the next morning, we know that England lost their game to Croatia. Yes, we watched it till 1am but drew a line when it reached full time and we went to bed. So, Mike & Wendy, you can watch the final in France with all your passion shared with your hosts. 🙂
Jen has commented with Cathy in the comments section, about our walk and dining experience last night, so I wont replicate it as her description is elegant.