We stayed a few days here then caught a mini van onward to Khiva, pronounced Hiva, spelt Kiva and in Cyrillic or Arabic and whatever other language they decide to use tomorrow.
This trip was a little hellish. Picture sitting in a loaded van, otherwise they just don't do the trip, cramped on top of one another, no a/c, windows down so as to capture every dust storm that blows across the desert that we were crossing. Oh and I forgot to mention, this has got to be one of the most heavily policed states I have been to. Every 2 klms, 15 klms, and anywhere in between, massive concrete blocks are placed across the highway, attached are gates with a big stop sign.
I have never ever seen anyone not stop. In fact the drivers put the car in reverse just to prove that they were not rolling forward. Otherwise the cops are just looking to screw you for money and they will. Every stop the driver gets out of the car/truck/bus/van/donkey and with money in his hand passes it to the cop with a hand shake. I think it could catch on back home?
Your method of transport is searched and re-searched. Everyone’s documents are looked at, and not just a cursory glance, but the kind of look a microbiologist would use when examining a slide under a microscope. That kind of look.
On the way out to Khiva you travel in between the desert for a long time and the winds create a massive sand storm.
At one point the road was disappearing before our eyes as we drove and then all of a sudden our van hit what can only be described as a sand bunker in the middle of the road and the entire car came to a grinding halt. Except for the passengers, who as cramped as we were flew forward: something to do with physics I think? The van never quite felt or sounded the same after that; come to think of it the van never really went so quickly after that either. The trip took some 9 hours when it takes 4 hours in a taxi, the preferred method of transport for the businessman or traveller who prefers to arrive safely. Our troupe also liked to stop for vodka shots and shashliks - which is the meat of an animal skewed onto a metal sword from 10 cm to 60cm in length - amazing food. In Khiva we visited more of the must-see historical sights and museums, all located in the old town where we stayed in a B and B, which again was fantastic. The B and B was run by a heap of girls and could they cook.