Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We are now into our third day in Khiva in the north-west of Uzbekistan It's not a big place but it has given us time to relax and get a feel of the place and to see different parts of the old city at different times of the day and in different light.

Khiva is a mud walked fortified city from around the early 16th Century. It is full of delightful charm and character, fairly low on tourists at the moment and I'll let the photos do the talking!!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

rushkent

We had a very brief 24 hour spell in Tashkent, it was really a transit in order to catch our flight to Khiva in the north-west of Uzbekistan.

All we had time to see was a museum, a few mausoleums, a mosque, a madrassa and an orthodox church.

One of the nicest things we saw were several metro stations but unfortunately photography of the beautiful interiors is forbidden.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the chocolate bribe

Along with Tash Rabat, Bishkek was the other destination that we had anxiety about. Because Australia doesn't have a Uzbek embassy we needed to arrange to have our Uzbek visa sent to their embassy in Bishkek. And we had read of many difficulties with this embassy. We were cutting it fine by having a prepaid flight out of Bishkek the day after getting the visa.

Once we checked into our somewhat dubious hotel - which Paul described as possibly being a 'hot pillow hotel' we were dismayed to discover that no one spoke English. This was the first problem. In order to get our visa we first had to arrange an appointment the day before and had read there might not be English speakers manning the phones. So we hot footed it to the British embassy and asked them to phone our hotel and ask them to phone the embassy and make the appointment for us.

This they duly did, and we were dismayed to discover that we could not have an appointment until 5 days later. So after some amateur dramatic theatrics involving hair pulling and mock crying, the hotel rang the embassy back and after some lengthy Kyrgyz Konversation we were told we could have an appointment the following morning but we should take along chocolate!

We arrived to get our visas early and found a huddle of anxiety ridden tourists who had obviously been through a similar situation (but no sign of chocolate on any of them) and the rest of the process went reasonably smoothly. We even cracked a micro smile on the face of the female official processing the visas when we handed over the biggest box of chocolates we were able to find.

Bishkek was a little ... meh! One day would have suited if it hadn't been for the visa issue.

The following morning we caught a taxi to the airport at 4am to Osh on the Kyrgyz/Uzbek border.

From there it was a three hour taxi to the city of Kokand where we were spending a couple of nights.

Below are a selection of pix, the first from a mosque in Andijan which was on route to Kokand, then the Khodayakan Palace in Kokand and the last in the latters Joma mosque.


And changing money for the first time in Uzbekistan gave us this for our US$200:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

kontaineristan

Below is a detail of a map of our trip so far, and for the next few days.



After leaving Cholpon Ata we drove across the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul to the town of Karakol on the eastern edge edge. This gave us the opportunity to visit Jeti Oghuz up in the foothills of the nearby mountains. It is known for a rock outcrop called 'The 7 Bulls' and is also the site of an old Soviet sanatorium.



Karakol also has a beautiful old wooden Russian Orthodox church.



From Karakol we journeyed along the lake's southern shore stopping briefly to snap a few photos of a strange and abandoned cultural centre that was never completed.







About 80kms from Bishkek we made a small detour to take a look at Burana Tower, a 9th Century minaret and all that remains of an ancient city.

Paul and myself on the tower:






One thing that really interested me was the abundance of shipping containers used across Kyrgyzstan for homes, shops and market stalls. Unfortunately most of the ones I saw were from a speeding car and therefore difficult to photograph. Bishkek has an enormous market on the edge of the city that is made from thousands of them.





Saturday, September 6, 2014

rocks rock

Travelled through some spectacular scenery from Tash Rabat to Cholpon Ata on the northern shoreline of Lake Issyk Kul. Unfortunately being in a car made photography difficult but managed to snap a couple of cemetaries.





The main atraction at Cholpon Ata was a petroglyph park situated in a glacial morain. Most of these date from 15th - 10th Centuries B.C.