Uzbekistan - Bukhara and Khiva

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September 21st 2016
Published: October 2nd 2016
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21-9 When we arrived in Bukhara we were amazed at how traditional the old town looked, we felt as if we were stepping back into the days of the Silk Road. Our hotel had a lovely open air roof top restaurant a great place for dinner while watching the sun go down over the minarets and domes of the ancient city.

22-9 We explored Bukhara on foot and learnt a thousand years ago there had been a thriving slave trade. We saw the Ark Fortress, the crumbing city wall and the Samanid Mausoleum, which dates back to the 9th century. We both enjoyed strolling through the narrow streets of the old city to the covered bazaar which dated back to Silk Road times.

23-9 Bukhara is surrounded by the vast expanse of the Kyzyl Kum Desert, with many historic sites such as the 16th century trading domed bazars, the beautiful decorated Bolo Hauz and Kalyon mosques, and the Labi Hauz pool, where old men in traditional dress sat drinking tea and playing chess.

24-9 Early in the morning we drove 450-km across the Kyzyl Kum Desert, we saw wild camels and eagles soaring high above the sand dunes. When we arrived at our next stop, Khiva we found our hotel was a beautiful old Madrasas, a 16th century school, we had to almost crawl up the low roofed narrow winding staircase to reach our room on the second floor.

25-9 The city of Khiva felt like an exotic medieval oriental town especially in the older part of the city known as Ichan-Kala where we were staying. We visited the Kunya-Ark Citadel and Tosh-Khovli Palace, residence of the Khan, which has been preserved. We enjoyed wandering the streets and drinking coffee in outdoor curtained pavilions filled with cushions to lounge upon. Ron spent a couple of hours climbing the tall minarets and the city walls while I wandered around the bazaars.

26-9 Sadly our guide Olga was not given a visa to enter Turkmenistan so Travel Directors sent one of the directors from Australia to help us for the last country in our Stan tour. We were very sad to say goodbye to Olga as she had been such a wonderful tour guide, keeping everyone happy and the tour well organised. Olga explained Turkmenistan only allowed 10,000 visitors a year and in each group one or two people were refused visas but when they reapplied they were normally granted entry. Unfortunately Olga had taken tours into Turkmenistan before so this time the officials had decided not to allow her entry.

After a confusing time exiting the Uzbekistan border, half way through processing our group they changed their mind how they wanted the paperwork completed and ripped up some our groups forms which they had to fill out again. After the Uzbekistan exit process we found ourselves in no mans land waiting for a mini bus to take us to the Turkmenistan border control. The Turkmenistan guards were very friendly and they even let us use their pit toilet in a nearby corn field, most of our group made use of the facility as it had taken a couple of hours just to exit the Uzbekistan border. We all found it rather strange to be wandering around in a corn field in no mans land as this normally would get you into big trouble. We were all very relieved when all of our group were granted entry into Turkmenistan, something we had been worried about after Olga's experience and having also met a Belgium girl in Khiva recently who had been refused entry with her tour group.

Additional photos below
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Unfinished minaret, apparently this should have been twice as tall but the king when inspecting the progress realised if it was built any higher it would given an excellent view into his harem so works were ordered to be stopped.

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