July 2 - At the shared taxi stand in Urgench, I had to wait about 10 minutes for the taxi to fill up - we needed one more person. Then we were off, with me sat in the middle in the back seat. When we got to Khiva, we dropped off a guy and then I realized I could see my guesthouse. He started to drive away and I told him to stop, I was staying there, and he said something and drove on. He dropped the girl off and started to go a different way, telling me it was closed. It is an old scam, to get you to pay more somewhere else where they get a commission. I eventually convinced him to take me back, and he got out of the car to chat with the guys here. I told the guy at check-in that he was trying to tell me they were closed, so hopefully they at least don't like him.
This dorm had four beds and it was full. Luckily no bunk beds. I met an older Japanese guy in the room named Jean and we talked a bit while I set up. Then I went
for a walk into the old walled city, right across from the guesthouse. Beautiful. It's just so nice. It was on the old silk road and has a long history. Unfortunately, that history includes a lot of slave trade. It's free to walk in the old city, but to enter the sites and museums and to take pictures, there is an expensive ticket - well, expensive for here. Like $8 - but it felt like more when I had to count out 45,000 som in 1000 som notes. I walked from 4-7pm, at first just looking and then starting to go into buildings. It was slightly cooler than yesterday and oddly cloudy - not so common in the desert I think. More comfortable for sure, but not so stunning for the photos. One of the buildings in an old mosque and was filled with over 200 wooden pillars. It also had a minaret that I climbed. It was pretty cool, but hard to climb as it was really dark in places, sometimes with steep steps, and it was low to climb. In one place there was a watchtower that cost extra to climb, and I wasn't sure, but the book
said it was good and it was. A great view. I looked for a restaurant outside the east gate that the book mentioned, but couldn't find it, so I came back. I ended up going to dinner with the other Japanese guy in my room, another older guy named Hiroshi. Nice guy, a young 68. I also met the young English guy staying there. His name is Richard and he's got his own blog and is doing a long term travel trip. He will join me and the French guys to Bukhara on Monday.
Since I started the antibiotics and hadn't had a problem yet, I decided to have something to eat. We ended up at a park type restaurant, so they didn't have much. I got a little samosa type thing filled wit meat and onions - a bit of a risk - but no problem yet. After dinner Hiroshi cut up a watermelon for the three of us and it was really nice. I used the internet a little, but the connection was bad. Later I met Desmond, an adorable guy from Hong Kong. We talked about our travels -he has had stomach issues too! He also
knows the couple I will go to the Pamir highway with. Small world. And I realized I had seen him earlier in the day at the watchtower. Funny. He also thought it was worth it. We talked until midnight, and then it was time for bed. All the roommates were already asleep.
Sunday July 3 - Had trouble falling asleep last night and staying asleep. My earplugs weren't sitting right and I could hear more than I wanted. The bed is a little short with the pillow also. At 5:30 I woke up in a warm room and realized the a/c had turned off, so I turned it back on. At 6:30 Hiroshi got up and was not that quiet. But you'd have to bed dead quiet for me not to hear. Even though I trusted everyone, there is always the concern for my things in the back of my mind when sharing a room. So that does not help me sleep either, when sharing the room. Finally got up at 7:30 and had the breakfast. Still waiting to see what the antibiotics produce, but so far it has been about 48 hours of nothing. Both a relief and
worrisome. Breakfast was nice - an egg, potatoes and some veggies along with bread, jam, cookies and some sesame coated peanuts. The others had breakfast around this time and I said good bye to go walking in town again. I spent several more hours walking around, visiting the museums and buildings left on my ticket. It was cloudy, so more comfortable, but the pictures are less impressive this way. Normally they have blue sky and killer sunshine all the time. There was one site outside the city walls and a bit of a walk, but I don't think I made it to the right place. Or if I did, it was closed. Unclear. I also went for a walk on part of the city walls that is open for that. I was alone and it was pretty cool. I came back to the guest house and then decided to go look for some food. Not much luck, as I just wanted something small, but I got a water at the supermarket. I decided to walk back towards the city gates and ran into Richard. He has just eaten somsa, little pastries filled with meat, at the market near the east
gate. That is actually when I was looking for, so I headed over there to get some. I had two and ate them on the walk back to the guesthouse.
Every time I enter the walled city, I walk past a single camel that is there for tourists to take pictures near or on. I always feel so bad for her. It's hot outside, and she is chained to the ground, so she can't walk much. She mostly sits in the sand, waiting. I've been thinking a lot lately about animals and their treatment, and I always feel sick about it. I keep thinking I will become a vegetarian, due to the treatment of animals in the food industry, but also because I just can't see how I have the right to a life I did not take, nor would be willing to take, myself. I have been so arrogant and cavalier to not think about where my food comes from. I love animals, and find they are far better than people any day of the week. It's hard to reconcile that with eating meat. This is a personal crisis for another day, though, as it would be nigh
on impossible to be a vegetarian in Central Asia, unless I just eat bread.
At the guesthouse I finally had the time, inclination and internet to catch up with the blog. Jeroen and I tried to skype but the internet was not strong enough to make that work, so we messaged for a while instead. I am trying to convince him to take a trip with me in October. I will have two weeks off for the first time (rather than 10 days), and it is a good amount of time. But just as I am becoming a somewhat reluctant traveler, he has become moreso. Hopefully he'll come around. We always have a good time when we go.
Around 6:30 pm I took a walk along the outside of the city walls with Richard, my roommate, and we circled the whole city. We saw a lot of untouristy parts and a lot of kids who all shouted "Hello!" at us. It was nice. We looked for a restaurant but not much was even open. We went back to the same touristy restaurant that he has eaten at a couple of times, and I wasn't hungry, so I just
sat with him while he ate. I guess I only needed one somsa at lunch. Still no belly problems, though, so that is good. Back at the guesthouse I took a shower, washed my under garments, talked to my new Japanese roommate (the Japanese are EVERYWHERE here), and then paid my guesthouse for the two nights. It took forever to count out 144,000 som, when the largest bill I have is 1000 som. I'm going to get to sleep earlier tonight, with any luck, and then tomorrow head out to Bukhara in a share taxi. The French boys never made it here today, so Richard and I will get a taxi together that our guesthouse will arrange. We'll just need to wait until the driver finds two more people. It was pretty cloudy today, which the guy at the guesthouse said is much more common this year than in the past. I had been hoping for a good sunset picture from the walls. After my shower, I saw the sky was pink. It actually would have been good to be on the walls - who knew? I tried to get a picture but nothing much came of it.
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