20 Oct 2011

Forever Autumn

After 2 months Autumn has finally caught up with us in Khiva. We had the first signs of Autumn in Omsk (Russia) at the end of August but then escaped back into summer in Khazakhstan. Although the leaves have been turning brown ever since the temperatures have staid high. The last few days in Samarqand and Bukhara have been in the mid 30's with no wind and blue skies, but the drive across the desert to Khiva was very windy and today the skies are grey and much cooler.

At the last update we were in Dushanbe applying for our second Kazahk visa, we were told it would be ready on Monday and so we stayed over the weekend in a 'homestay', i.e a private home. Firts thing Monday morning the visa had not been approved so we returned at 11.00, still not approved (but they close at 12.30 and are not open again till Wednesday) so we sat and waited. 11.30 our visa is approved, but we now have to find the right bank to pay the fee. We find the square but are stopped by the police, we ask them for directions to the bank, they forget why they stopped us and give us directions. Still can't find the bank and are stopped by the police agian - same process ask for directions and they don't ask us for papers - good scheme. Eventually find a place to park and after more directions find the bank. and pay the fee.

Almost back to the truck and realise we don't have the passports, dash back to the bank and they are still sitting on the desk! We make the Embassy by 12.10 and have our visas 10 minutes later - phew! Two more days would have severley restricted our time in Uzbekistan.

One more night in the roof tent in a valley just before the border and then another 3 hour crossing, where at one stage they told us to take all our 'luggage' into the custome hall. After some discussion, which required the world map to show them our route they forgot about that and after another cursory look we were on our way.

Since then we have stayed in Hotels in Termez (£9.50 per night for a comfortable bed with en suite and best value Hotel we have staid in), Samarquand, Nukus (£10.00 per night, but by far the worst Hotel we have staid in), Bukhara (our new favourite City) and Khiva.

Tomorrow we head for Nukus and an art gallery of paintings rescued from the Russians which we are advised is quite special, and then Moynaq. Moynaq used to be a port on the Aral sea until the Russians diverted the water and it is now about 100 miles south of the shore, with dozens of boats left abandoned.

After that we had possibly the worst road we have travelled, across Kazakhastan back to Russia for a much needed service for the cruiser and to see whether we can get a boat to Turkey from Sochi before the 6th November (when our Russian visa runs out).

A typical fruit and veg market in Uzbekistan (a world away from Mongolia)

Coloured fountains in Dushanbe


Millionaires at last! 1,200,000 Som, £300.00. Bizarly the largest note in Uzbekistan is 1,000 som which is 25p!

The remains of a Fortess of Alfred the Graet above Nukus



Still Smiling after aal these miles

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