Days in Khiva.

Of the three “Silk Road” cities in Uzbekistan I enjoyed Khiva the most. Samarkand clearly has its well founded reputation, the Registan, The Bibi-Khan Mosque and the Shah-I Zinda are all world class attractions and I would never discourage anyone from visiting the city. But one gets this feeling after a day or two that there isn’t much else to do or see. I walked past the Registan frequently and each time it was jaw dropping, a bit like the Golden Gate Bridge, but one wouldn’t stay in San Francisco for long if all there was to see was the Bridge. As I have mentioned previously the general population is hidden away behind quite substantial, unattractive walls. It’s as if there is a part of town for visitors and once you have seen that you are encouraged to leave. Bukhara had something of a similar feel. Seeing the walls of the Ark are worth the trip alone, quite amazing, but if you pay your $10.00 to go inside the Ark what do you find? Next to nothing. There are beautiful mosaics, fabulous Medressahs, Mosques, the Pond (!), some pleasant roof top restaurants but really, that’s about it. I should qualify the above with the fact that in both cities I woke up every morning with a sense of excitement, the thrill of a day in Samarkand doesn’t come along too frequently in one’s life and really, I am not that jaded.

It was therefore interesting that quite by chance I elected to stay longer in Khiva than anywhere else. My little B and B set just inside the walls was perfect for me, my room could not have been better, the rooftop was dazzling, the reception staff were ever helpful and the breakfast was always interesting, shall we say. My friends, Oliver, Katya and Austin came to visit most evenings to see the sunset and star gaze as night fell before we went for dinner. The legendary walls completely surround the old city and set in them are four gates, the North, South, East and West and passing through any of them felt like stepping back in time. It was like entering a living museum. One felt almost encouraged to walk the alleys and see the population attending to their daily lives, sitting outside their homes just passing the time of day and it was not in the least intimidating. People would say hello, albeit in Uzbek or Russian. Small children would run up and introduce themselves. There were no walls around to keep the visitors away from the inhabitants. Turning a corner, avoiding the gaping drainage system and the mini sand dunes, one could catch a view of a minaret or Medressah right there, in amongst the houses. The bazaar was very busy and very friendly, nobody seemed to mind having their photo taken, and I am getting better at asking. It was interesting to see how it was laid out, there was the spice section, the vegetable section, the electronics, the clothing, the shoes, I particularly liked the rope and hardware area.

Khiva then. Lots to do, lots to see, it felt genuine, not a tourist trap. Worth staying a while to soak up the history. Trips available out into the desert not to be missed. A walk along the top of the walls at sunset. Great people watching. Just remember, drink lots and lots of water.

This was my B and B in Khiva.

This was my B and B in Khiva.

The walls at sunset with the Ark in the foreground.

The walls at sunset with the Ark in the foreground.

Mmmm, biscuits!

Mmmm, biscuits!

A street view in Khiva with the "unfinished" minaret in the foreground.

A street view in Khiva with the “unfinished” minaret in the foreground.

A map.

A map.

A view of a minaret.

A view of a minaret.




12 responses to “Days in Khiva.

  1. A very descriptive bit of writing. Well done. I wonder why you are so keen on walls? Interesting.

  2. Photos are incredible, Tim, and your travels more and more interesting. I doubt a single woman travelling alone would be so lucky in this part of the world. I would be terrified! And I would probably be violently ill in the heat, LOL!

    • Not too sure about that. I have met two ladies travelling on their own at my hotel.
      One is an incredibly high powered New Yorker who is a Senior Managing Director for Huawei, the Telco Company, who is here checking the accounts at the local branch office.
      The other, a student from Berlin, is doing her PHD in Central Asia studies. Learnt Uzbek and Tajik and specializes in the migration of workers to Russia and Egypt. Gosh.
      The heat is challenging I must say. I don’t go out much between noon and four.
      Glad you like the photos and lets see if I can keep it interesting.
      Update on the “student”. Actually she is a Professor doing research for her second book. Even more gosh!

  3. Again so interesting to read and view. Did I see Jammy Dodgers and Rich Tea biscuits? We hope you stocked up. Terry is enthralled every evening when I read your blog to him and for you to share this journey with all of us.

    • Yes and chocolate digestives too! Plain chocolate of course.
      Not too much to blog about today, I just hung out at hotel, read book and made vague plans for next couple of weeks.
      Does clicking on the photos work for you, I have had mixed reviews? Works for some people and not others.
      It seems to work ok on the iPad but on the Mac the images are impossibly big.
      September first is coming right up.

      • Yes on the IPad pictures are perfect if clicked on. Glad your chilling for a time to catch your breath for the next adventure.

      • Oh good Vicky.
        Have you tried to view them, enlarged, on your Windows desktop machine with a right click?
        Definitely chillin and catching breath for next journey.

  4. I do love the blue and yellow combination of colors….what a rich experience you must be having!

    • Sometimes so rich I just have to sit down, buy a bottle of water and absorb, absorb for half an hour.
      It is all very stimulating.
      But sometimes, you know just sometimes, I wish………..

  5. I agree with Anna – the combination of brilliant blue and that rich, almost turmeric-hued yellow is stunning. The heat would not bother me so much – especially after what we’ve had here for the last few weeks! – but like Lesley, I would not want to be a lone woman travelling in that part of the world. So you are our eyes and ears, Tim, we can enjoy the exotica and spectacular sights through your ever-enthralling blogs. So where next? Is it on the map you photographed?

    • I love this.
      My followers are talking to each other, Todmorden UK to Mill Valley Ca and Gig Harbor WA.
      Onward to more exotic and spectacular sights. That’s why I am here I guess.
      Next to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, and road trips to some remote Silk Road memorials.
      I will try to be your eyes and ears.
      It is amazing to me the prevalence of Internet access, everywhere I go has wifi.
      There may be some interruptions in the posts coming up if I go too remote.
      Sorry to hear about your weather!

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