Khiva Travel Blog› entry 70 of 80 › view all entries
Khiva is the 3rd, and for us the last, of the classic silk road cities in Uzbekistan. In many respects it looks the best of the three, as the old city itself is well restored and is really just a huge open air museum. The mosque minaret here looks a little like a 19th century lighthouse, hence the blog title.
Khiva is a little harder to reach than the other two Uzbek cities. We believe there to be buses but found no evidence of these from the market at the norht of Samarkand. Based on the LP we were expecting to have to take a shared taxi and were right. Negotiating a reasonable price took 20 minutes while we waited for the drivers to come to the party but we had the benefit of our guest house owner advising us of the going rate though there were not exactly many others waiting for a lift (in fact 1 other person).
We had expected the drive to take 5 hours but found it took about 6 1/2 with only one brief stop for lunch. The road crosses the desert and runs close to the Turkmenistan border and though much of the road is good there is a stretch of 100Km which is being reconstructed and makes for a rough ride. We find 2 other passengers to share the journey with us. One is a girl from Malaysis who lives and works in Beijing and the other a local man from Khiva. After the first 2 hours sitting next to the Uzbek guy trying to make polite conversation I begin to run out of topics to converse (!?) about so I suggest he takes the front seat after we stop - which works out better for me at least.
About 50Km from Khiva, our driver is hauled over by the police and a long discussion follows.
The attractions in Khiva seem more interesting than Bukhara. The Ark (castle) has a sultan's throne room and a couple of the madrassa have interesting museums. From my reading of the city history the surviving buildings here are a few hundred years later than those in Samarkand or Bukhara and are predominately 18th century. It is possible to walk along at least a part of the old city wall and though we take a walk here at dusk we find it hard to catch a really great photo of the sunset.
Our friendly guesthouse owner in Bukhara recommended a place to stay and it turns out to be a great find, the cheapest place we have yet stayed and one of the best with a comfy bed and decent bathroom. The owners family also knock up a good filling dinner of plov for $4 a head.