This will probably be my last live post for around a week. The reason is tomorrow I head into Turkmenistan and I am unsure of just what internet will be available for me there. I have zoomed through Uzbekistan, and am posting here from Khiva. It’s a great little city well west of where I entered the country when I crossed from Panjakant, Tajikistan across to Samarkand. My time has been divided as such –
Thursday 7th November
I crossed the border into Uzbekistan. The border was around 20 minutes’ drive from Panjakant where I stayed Wednesday night. My guide took me to the border. It was actually a pretty easy, painless experience crossing on both sides and the people working both sides of the border – Tajik and Uzbek – were very friendly.
Samarkand is an amazing city and one not to be missed if you haven’t been to Uzbekistan before. I only went to the Registan this time, this square of three amazing, beautiful Medressas where I grabbed a lot of photos and took an audio tour. The weather was slightly warmer in Samarkand, and again here in Khiva it’s a little warmer again – around 17 degrees maximums.
Friday 9th November
So this was a long day of travel. I had to cross the country, maybe 800 kilometres but I’m guessing. I took the fast train from Samarkand to Bukhara. It was super comfortable and fast, hitting a maximum of well over 200 km/h. I probably could have taken a train here to Khiva or at least nearby Urgench, but I opted – I planned rather – to take a share taxi. This was a ride of maybe 500 km or a fraction less. I made a cardinal error of not taking the first one to leave the Bazaar, because I could get the front seat in the next one. After two hours we still hadn’t filled up, so we still hadn’t left. In the end I paid for the spare seat so we could get going before it got really late. We left at 2pm, I’d been there since 1145am and the other taxi left by 12pm!
The journey was crazy. The driving here – the passing – has to be seen to be believed! The road in places was just pothole after pothole, but the main stretch in the middle was two-lane divided and was pretty smooth. For over 3 – 4 hours we did not pass through a town or a city of any description. We saw some sheep being herded across the road and passed a couple of petrol stations, but really there was little in the Uzbek desert. Finally, I got to Khiva late last night. Well, 8pm. The old town here is pretty at night, lit up.
Saturday 10th November
And today I have spent the day exploring the old town. I’ve visited a number of medressas, mosques and a palace or two. It’s quite a magical place, even if the tour groups are rather…. loud? It’s strange, you’re there almost alone, then a big (one was at least 40 people) tour group comes in, the guide talks, they get their selfies and suddenly… you’re alone again in some of the most beautiful, peaceful spots you can imagine. Anyways, it’s been quite the day and I must have broken my record for photos in a day. Well, not quite, I don’t really know what it is but I have taken over 200 photos today.
Tomorrow a new chapter in this adventure begins. I have a few nerves about Turkmenistan, until I emailed the company operating the tour an hour ago they were going to meet me at the wrong border. But I’ll be in a one on one tour the whole time I’m there. I can’t believe tomorrow I am going to see the Dervaza Gas Crater! It promises to be exciting and an adventure! If I can I will blog from Turkmenistan, but I’m not expecting to. So it will be after that that I will post. I have a couple of posts due out this week though – Tuesday and Friday.
Thanks for following as always, and May the Journey Never End!