And we climbed on our bikes yet again – but the ride was short just to the car station to find a car to take us and our bikes to Khiva – that was Plan A. Mohina met us there – via a few unintended detours on our part. It seemed cars could not take the bikes but there was a train at 1am, so at least another good option.
But of course, standing around, being relaxed, things can change. By now Mohina has left, and we had met Michel. A French Israeli or and Israeli Frenchman who lives on Wallis Fortuna in the Pacific with a passion for travel and adventure. He was also heading to Khiva and was looking for other travellers to share a ride with. ( he also happened to be born in Sept 62 (2 days before me) and was finishing his trip in July to return to Paris for his dads 90th – I head back in August for Dads 90th!).
After lots of no answers, it is not possible- as often has happened it was all of a sudden an option. There was a car with a roof rack- yes yes it was possible. And so with much trepidation my part – bikes were lifted on the roof rack and tied on.
For the next hour we travelled along one of the worst roads we have been on. It was baked mud. The car rolled and bounced and rolled back the other way all while I held my breathe. Thankfully the driver was careful and the rolling was reasonably slow at least. If you can imagine a four wheel drive track full of potholes and ditches but with edges smoothed through rain and wear – well that was the road we were on, but in an old two wheel drive with precious cargo tied to the roof with rope and icky straps!
We stopped along the way, it was hot and dry and we experienced our first Uzbek truck stop
Finally we arrived at Inchon Kala – Khivas old city where we will be staying. It is very hot, but agin the spectacular scene and the warm welcome (plus some air conditioning) help us settle in quickly. Being inside the old city feels good, it is small and contained and not to full of tourists – unlike the Bukhara spice festival.
It is surrounded by a continuously curving wall that you can walk around providing a great vista for both inside and outside the city.
Unlike many “Old Cities” that are tourist destinations- Khiva is full of local people who live there. Our hosts at are AirBnB are wonderful. We are the first guests and every effort is made to make us happy – including an amazing vegetarian feast for dinner, and then again for breakfast. Lucky we have decided to ride from here to Nukus so we can burn off so we can burn off some of this food.
It’s so easy, on the foot and on the eye we spend most of our time in the old city, there is of course more to see outside as well – but there’s only so much time…
Khiva is a wonderful rest, but time is running out in Uzbekistan- we have a 30 day visa and we only have just over a week left. We still want to see Nukus and the. Get back to Tashkent with a few days to spare. The ride is about 160kms. We think we can do that in 2 days – though of course we never know what the roads, the weather if the gradient will be like.
We left Khiva staying away from the main roads both seeking the quiet of the countryside. The roads were good and apart from some rain we made good progress.
By mid afternoon we are looking for a spot to stop and eat – they are becoming more sparse. We are also hopeful of some Ymir’s than what has become our standard fare, eggs usually fried occasionally boiled, cucumber tomato salad with garlic and dill and bread lots of it. Carbs other than bread is a constant challenge. (Unless you strike it lucky with plov).
Despite the limited options we stop anyway. We eat and the rain starts. A full torrential tropical storm erupts, thunder, lightening and buckets and buckets of rain. Of course as it eases I’m keen to crack on – wanting to get half way. Adrienne in her wisdom suggests an early dry start and as the clouds crack open again I am convinced.
So we stay put hopeful of finding somewhere dry to camp. Our initial requests fall on deaf ears, but we stay put anyway. A very short stroll, watching more bread get made in the tandir and then into the covered market stand.
We’re on the road early. It’s very wet, muddy and blissfully quiet. It’s slow, dodging potholes of every size, it’s a truck route do very worn and bumpy but after the rain it’s dust free, quiet and just glorious.
After 10kms – which takes at least an hour in those conditions- we are rewarded by reaching the pontoon and a distant view of one of many old mud brick fortresses.