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State of the Union (& Khiva)

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I….I….I’m not very well….
For just over forty years the collection of matter that constitutes the entity that is Mark Bowen has existed in a state union of reasonable peace and security.  All that was to change – after a night out in Bukhara for a plate of Plov and a couple of cheeky beers…A secessionist movement of rebels based in the lower regions of my body took control of the local legislature, erected barricades and attempted to declare a separate independent state for my bottom.

My higher cranial functions suspended the constitution and declared a state of emergency, whilst rioting and looting took place in regions I’d rather not mention.

At a hastily convened meeting of the UN Security Council, America favoured aerial imodium bombardment, but this was vetoed by Russia who showed some misguided sympathy towards my arse rebels.

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If 6 made me this ill – I think 5 would have killed me…
So, in this somewhat perilous state we headed out from Bukhara after just one night.  Nothing at all against Bukhara – but we elected to use this beautiful city as a stopover to the more remote Khiva, and get the distances and potentially difficult Kyzylkum desert crossing out the way whilst we had full “Dizel” tanks, and the time left on our visa to deal with any unforeseen vehicle issues.  Bukhara would wait until the return leg.We woke before dawn and left at 5am as the sun was rising, loving the relative cool and the empty roads, pausing only to deal with indiscriminate buttock based suicide bombings as the digestive hostilities continued.

The road out of Bukhara was the usual mix of potholes and rough track – but within an hour became a brand new, concrete highway that crossed most of the desert and lasted to within an hour of Khiva.  This was still under construction in places (Jul 2013) but I would hope that within a year or so it would be completed?

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Easy, but hot, motoring across the Kyzylkum.
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Isn’t she lovely?
Between the early start and the good roads we made Khiva by early afternoon.  Our target was the Lali Opa guest house, which was both a recommendation from Lonely Planet and several other travellers we had met in Samarkhand.N 41.22.808
E 060.21.453

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Bit heavy on fuel consumption, and high maintenance…
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Will Sir be wanting a 110 Defender with that?
The guesthouse is ideally situated close to the West gate to the walled city, and they have secure parking for one or two cars (albeit pretty much in the restaurant!).  The accommodation is basic, but OK.  The only real problem we had (in Room 3) was the unholy stench coming from the bathroom (and this was before I added my own unholy emanations to the atmosphere).

As two time visitors to Iceland we are well used to bathroom sulphorous “parfums” – quite excusable in a volcanic area – but this was something else!

We could not change rooms and the owner did try to change the shower head (?!), but I think it was nothing that a good hosing down with bleach would not cure?

The reason we did not move on was really down the family who ran the place – they were lovely people, very helpful, and went out of their way to make our stay an otherwise pleasant one (and helped us find black market Dizel – see other blog).  We’d still recommend the place – if you can avoid room 3 – or maybe take some industrial strength Domestos with you?

Tired by the early start we voted to leave the tourist bit to later and ventured out instead to an Uzbek restaurant just opposite the West gate…

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD avoid this place at all costs, unless:1)   You are kinky for overweight, mono-browed, hairy-ankled, gold-toothed waitress service.
2)   You enjoy being constantly hassled by same harridan to extol the virtues of their vile fare to other passing tourists.
3)   You wish to aggravate your stomach complaint from minor inconvenience to DEFCON 5.

NOT wishing to aggravate a delicate ceasefire that seemed to holding down below, I opted for what I thought was a plain broth soup.

Peace talks were underway and some consessions had been made to the bottom-separatist movement (a temporary cessation of alcohol consumption and the right to a free press) and I thought I was on the mend?

I blame my tiredness – but only twigged half way through that I was listlessly consuming a bowl of gristle, heated chilli oil and whatever excretions the flies of Khiva wished to contribute.

I had, in fact, just issued a Jihad upon my own ass and the revolution violently returned….

You get the picture, and that’s probably quite enough bottom anecdotes from me. Suffice to say that what followed was the worst night of my life, and ended up with me collapsing from the pain and unpleasantness of the whole experience…

Back to the lovely folk at Lali Opa, who provided plain boiled rice, rice water and black tea, upon request for the next 24 hours, facilitating a remarkably rapid recovery and for which they charged not one som!

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The view from Lali Opa
We spent the remainder of our time exploring the old city, taking multiple photographs, climbing every minaret in sight (all unlit – take that torch!), eating at the fantastic Teahouse Farrukh in town – free from harridans and fly poo food, but offering a cool shaded courtyard, delicious Uzbek food and spotlessly clean facilities.
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The calm after the storm…
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Highly recommended!
We later also regret not buying some of the tourist tat on offer – some of it was really rather good, ceramic comical figures, good quality papier mache puppets, and hats made of various bits of dead animal.  We were rightly worried that such delicate goods would either never make the journey home, or in the case of the hats, only get worn in private, after a life threatening intake of alcohol.
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Loved these – but too delicate for the journey home.
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These puppets are 7 days in the making – apparently.
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Remember Benny from Crossroads?
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Why are the blokes hats all stoopid…
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…and the ladies hats OK (ish)
Anyhoo…here’s some pictures of the beautiful city of Khiva:

About Scarlet 4x4

Mark & Cheryl head East from the UK via Europe, Ukraine, Russia, the Central Asian Stans, with the eventual aim of Mongolia.

Trip Start: 2013-05-23 Trip End: 2013-11-01 .

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