Head west they said…

Khiva’ s iconic squat tower

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.

Mohina – an English teacher who was very keen to help including getting up early in her day off to meet us!

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!).

Michel

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.

Loaded but not convinced
Three passengers, 10 panniers (counting handlebar bags), one large backpack and we’re off f!

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!

It looks better than it was!

We stopped along the way, it was hot and dry and we experienced our first Uzbek truck stop

Washing up before lunch
Truck stop lunch
About half way there Buxoro to Khiva

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.

The city walls of Inchon kala
For the effort of a climbing a dark winding staircase up the minaret we are rewarded with framed glympses of this beautiful city
One of the locals

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.

Our wonderful Khiva hosts
At our outside dinner table
The Khiva minaret
Just another local

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…

The watchtower at dawn
Floor, ceiling, walls and doors – it’s all spectacular
Khiva tiles had a green we hadn’t seen before
Most of the mosaics include quotes from the Koran
Like kids everywhere playgrounds are wherever you make them

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.

Our breakfast stop – having left at 5am we decide to have breakfast on the road
We stop in what we think is a chai shop! It isn’t but we get chai anyway – gifted as often happens .
Peri as always is a great source of interest

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.

Riding through the fields of cotton, rice, wheat and corn there are always industrious women at work

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.

Within minutes the ground resembles the bubbling mud pools of Rotorua

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.

It’s a hot hard job but the bread is impressive wach area stamped with its own particular stamp before going in the tandir
And yes thankfully we have somewhere dry – under the covered market

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.

11 thoughts on “Head west they said…

  1. So many great memories for you, love the photos.Hope you have less potholes and steep gradients! Take care
    Kevin and Sandy

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    1. Thanks to you both – think you’ll have to wish very hard as I suspect both potholes and steep gradients are part of our future journey – the joy is though the rest of the trip will be much less destination focussed so we can stop much earlier 🙂 x no huge Silk Road architecture to marvel over just mountains and lakes and people 😊

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  2. Really enjoying the opportunity to be there with you through the pics and words. Can you tell me are the men’s hats made of astrakhan? Xx

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    1. Well firstly thank you – I now know what astraxan is 😁 and yes the winter hats are made of that. I had a wonderful morning in Bukhara trying on all sorts of hats then they started telling me what they were made from. Haven’t heard of things made from animal pelts for such a long time I was in shock for a while 🙂

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  3. Wow some interesting sights,sounds and tastes not to mention events!!! We are in Mornington for 3days seeing an old friend of Val,s . Last night tonight then head North.Beaut photos and commentary. Proud of what you are doing. Happy travels . All my love papa Sent from my iPad

    >

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    1. Hey Papa – lovely to hear from you. Glad the trip is going well – travel must be in our blood. The Mornington peninsula is so lovely. Glad you’re enjoying the stories and photos. Thanks for the messages it’s really good to hear from you. Much love xxx

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