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September 12th 2015
Published: September 14th 2015
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The drive west to Khiva let us see the development taking place here in Uzbekistan, but also highlighted some of the challenges. Although it's not finished yet there are now a few hundred km of smooth concrete road through the desert which makes a massive difference to the journey (concrete is used because it doesn't melt in the heat). Our driver told us that for one section of ~100km the journey time has been reduced from a bit under 4 hours to about 1 hour, but then when we needed to fill up with gas - most cars, minibuses and vans run on methane or propane as Uzbekistan has it's own gas fields – the only station for kilometres was closed. We were lucky as he had some petrol but we saw others who'd run out.

Khiva is a delight. Much less restored than either Samarkand or Bukhara, almost unlit at night, and not engulfed by a modern city it feels more authentic – there I go again with that Lonely Planet speak !!! Of the three cities it was our favourite.

I also had the most amazing coincidence. Sitting in a restaurant I heard a voice that sounded familiar when I looked up I recognised a couple of faces – it was two Aussie guys who'd been on the same trip to North Korea in April !!!

For now we're maddressa'd, mausoluem'd and minaret'd out and are looking forward to seeing two sides of the activities of man in Nukus – the wonders of the Savitsky Museum and the tragedy of the Aral Sea.

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