Tashkent - Ashgabat Rally #2
Day 2 – Onward to Khiva
Khiva was actually the first of our four planned destinations, the others being Darvoza Gas Crater, Ashgabat, and Samarkand on the return leg. None of the group had ever been there, so everyone was excited to start the day.
Subzero (Celsius) temperatures greeted our departure, and optimism quickly changed to caution as the road west of Bukhara transformed into the lunar surface.An hour into our journey showed we had traversed an amazing 18 miles across this “road”, yet despite this, our first real bit of adversity did hit as the Mini-Cooper popped its first tire (yes, first.... keep reading). Now the Mini-Cooper was equipped with run flat tires, and as the tire had not completely been destroyed, we thought at first we could limp into Bukhara as there was no kind of service between the two cities. Instead, we turned around to a town a couple miles back and looked for a tire repair shop. As snow fell on us by the roadside, we located a Vulkanisatiya shed (tire repair) and a bunch of guys outside looking interested. With their help (while being completely bemused by a Mini Cooper and Subaru rolling into their shop), we got the tire replaced and were on our way after only an hour and $6. (Note to readers: If you are planning a road trip, learn the word Vulkanisatiya. Learn how to read it in Russian and Uzbek, hell learn it in Greek just in case.)
The rest of the journey was mostly uneventful, with some interesting scenery, and we arrived in Khiva shortly before nightfall. The hotel was built by local carpenters who featured their work inside.
Day 3 – Khiva
Khiva is quite simply an amazing city. If you are stationed in Tashkent and you don’t make it to Khiva, you are doing yourself a disservice. There really is no other way to say it. There is plenty of material about the history of Khiva that you can find online, so we will leave that for you to research. From our point of view, it was almost a magical day. Not only did Khiva provide an amazing backdrop despite the cold temperatures (actually the cold weather meant we had the city to ourselves as tourists!), but we showed up in the middle of a wedding and a movie shoot! Part of the town was completely taken over by actors filming a movie all dressed up in historical garb, using the ancient city as its setting.After a nice tour of the city, we ran into this group of happy partygoers feting a happy bride and groom. When Nozomi stopped to take their picture, they all reacted and Nozomi got nervous. Rather than being upset, they asked instead to pose for the camera!As evening fell, the group did some shopping and began to return to hotel, prepped for the biggest part of the adventure to being tomorrow: Destination Turkmenistan!