Day 64, 5th June, Khojazafaron

We spent the morning pottering about in Khiva: went to look for the Kheivak well but discovered that it is located in a private garden and the house is closed with a lock on the door. Went for another look at the Juma Mosque and, this time, discovered the stairs up the minaret. A scary experience, pitch black for much of the way, a low roof which meant you had to crouch and two-foot high steps. Very claustrophobic. Great view of the old city from the top. Began the process of buying pressies for the folks in TC. Bought a CD of Uzbek music played with traditional instruments. Lovely haunting music which conjures up memories of the desert.
Set off for Bukhara about 13.00, taking the road along the southern edge of the Khorezm delta through a succession of small villages. Went too far and had to return, although I found a small filling station that sold diesel. Got 60 litres for about £35. We now have enough fuel (including the four tanks) to get to Tashkent without wandering about trying to find it in Bukhara or Samarkand.
Crossed the Amu Darya river on a pontoon bridge but the crush of traffic meant I was unable to take a pic. Took a pic of a canal which is taking water from the river to the cotton fields, contributing to the shrinkage of the Aral Sea. Eventually got onto an excellent motorway through the Kizyl Kum (Red Desert) which is a light reddish-brown colour and has much less vegetation than the Ust Yurt Plateau (Beineu to Kulsary). There were no horses, sheep or camels and the lack of graveyards indicates that nomads couldn’t survive here.
After 150 miles reached Gazli (where Uzbekistan’s largest gasfield was discovered in the 1970’s) and had a meal at a truck drivers cafe. The place was dirty (inevitable given the desert dust storms) with lots of flies and swifts nesting in the rafters, but the food was nice. Chunks of fried beef with onion rings and a salad of tomatoes and cucumber. Spent the night at the side of the road at Khojazafaron, a small village on the west of the Bukhara oasis.

Weird painting in a Khiva museum
Hotel dining room
Shaherazade in dining room
Tombs in Khiva wall
Khiva from top of Juma minaret
Canal ferry

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