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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Monday, 10 Oct 2016

Location: Khiva, Uzbekistan

MapWe had another one of life's experience this morning in Nukus. We had no water at all in the hotel to wash or do anything else!!
We later learnt that Uzbekistan had a dispute with nearby Turkmenistan who from time to time cut off the flow of water. That coupled with the situation in the Aral Sea makes life very difficult for the locals.

We set off after breakfast for the long journey to Khiva.
The roads are very poor and we bounced arround through semi arid desert. There are long distances where there is nothing at all except the litter thrown from the cabs of lorries. The land itself is very flat with just a few mounds of earth and low hills. Habitation is few and far between. Some gold and silver mines, we saw a few birds of prey but apparently there are foxes, desert rats, Cobras and deer living here as well.

It is difficult to believe that we are travelling along one of the greatest historical routes.
The Silk Road itself brought not only trade. It brought a variety of different cultures and religions, leading to today's diversity. Many of today's holy days have ancient roots and are still celebrated in traditional style.

It was the Soviets brought the cotton. Each of the stands were given a product with which to supply the mother land. Taxes were high leaving little for the homelands to build on.

We made a stop at Chilpyk, the Tower of Silence. This is a large round fortress built for funerary reasons by the Zoroastrians. On death, the body is left for a year by family on the flat ground at the top of the fortress. The birds and animals pick off the flesh. Then the bones are collected and boxed in an ossuary in a necropolis.

The rest of the day was fabulous. There are several fortresses on this route. The area is known as the Ring of the Ancient fortresses. Some are in excellent condition. Many were built by the slaves, traders who were abducted on the Silk Road.
We stopped first at Toprak Qala an Incredible place but not in summer when the temperature reaches fifty degrees. The building served both as a fortress and as a religious centre.
Next was the impressive Ayaz Qala, a must see complex.teh external walls were built on a flat hill top in the fourth century. This was on a much larger scale than the previous one. It must have been a very wealthy place and prospered as it was a convenient stopping off place on the Silk Road.
At the foot of the hill, are a number of yurts. We stopped here for a traditional lunch. A great day.

Travelling on, we reached villages in irrigated areas where cotton and rice fields were in abundance. It is against the law to photograph the workers in the fields!
A bit bizarre. None of the land in this country is private. It is all state owned and farmers and house holders rent the land from the state and pay their taxes accordingly.

Our destination for the next two days is Khiva and our hotel is just outside the ancient city walls so we won't have far to go to explore. So we can have a lie in!