Arriving in Khiva I stopped to look where I should drive first. Right away some dude stopped to ask if he could help me. I told him I wanted to check out the historical center so he asked me to follow him there. Once there we had a short talk and exchanged numbers. A guy from the ho(s)tel opposite to the entrance of the came up and suggested I could stay at their place for $8. I thought it was a good deal. Then I went for a short walk in the historical center but it was so busy that I got out asap and ordered a beer in the hostel. I stayed there all night on the balcony, talking to people and having a few beers. The next day I did a short round through Khiva and took some pictures of the highlights. Tourists and schoolchildren were steadily pouring in and half an hour later I really had enough of this theme park. At that time I was also invited to have lunch with the dude from earlier (my phone broke so all the names are gone ). We had a great seafood lunch and talked about religion and traditions. He invited me to stay over but my plan was to drive in the direction of Bukhara, which I did.
Between Khiva and Bukhara I found a nice spot to camp in the desert. But before I found that I got quite stuck in the desert sand. So I let some air out of the tires and rocked backwards and forwards until I had enough momentum to keep going. Not too bad and a lesson learned. At first my camp seemed really awesome, amidst steppe plants and desert sand, but as soon as the sun went down I was plagued by dozens of types of insects that massively committed suicide in my candle and wanted to be where my eyes were. Also there was another one of those fucking creepy camel spiders wandering around my chair. So I evacuated to my tent and let them do their thing while I read a book. The next morning when I as able to go outside again the candle had gone out because of all the suicidal insects. There were a bunch of animals that let themselves be photographed. But the best one was of the dung beetle that had made a nice ball of my own product
It was about 100 km more to Bukhara, where I ended up in Rumi’s hostel. This is where a lot of overlanders cluster together so I had a nice and social time there. The dorms are air conditioned and the breakfast is enormous. On the way there the CarPc finally gave in to the shaking and battering on the terrible roads. Bye bye CarPc! The city center of Bukhara is a lot more relaxed and “real” than Khiva. Walking around is very pleasant and there are nice restaurants, terraces and beautiful buildings to visit. In Bukhara I also had my laptop repaired by a highly skilled computer nerd. It took him about 2 days but the costs of fixing were very low. Brutus also got some attention and had new oil, an oil filter and fuel filter installed. It wasn’t really necessary but I wanted everything in order and tested before heading into Tajikistan.
From Rumi’s hostel I drove into the direction of Samarkand. I felt like camping for a night so I found another end-of-the-road near a river. It turned out to be a pretty decent and quiet spot without any mosquitos or other crappy animals.
The next day I packed up my stuff and drove off to Samarkand where I parked the car at Sim-Sim hostel. In the afternoon I walked to what I thought was the center, but it turned out to be the wrong way. A car stopped and brought me to the historical part of town where I strolled for a bit and took a bunch of pictures. I met some German guys who in turn bumped into 2 Indian women they met before and we went for a few beers in Registan. After that I went back to the hostel and had another beer with [!!!!!], a dude from Kazachstan who was the only other person in the place. The following morning I saw that there was a car wash place opposite to the hostel so I had Brutus cleaned properly. I think that about 10 kilos of Aral sea mud and dirt came off. They charged me extra for this job :). When the car was clean, the Kazakh guy and I decided to go to some tombs near Registan of which I forgot the name. Pretty nice stuff and I made some good ceiling pictures, which is becoming a thing.
I continued to Tashkent because my reservation at Topchan hostel was for that evening. After a 300 km ride I arrived at Top Chan in the evening. I have to recommend this hostel to anyone going to Tashkent. It’s a very social place where I met a bunch of people. The owner even invited me to eat Plov at his favorite restaurant. That afternoon, Will, a french motorcycle dude and I went out for a couple of beers. In town we met Timur who was doing Ramadan but was eager to join us to sit with us while we drank beer. It was a very nice afternoon and evening, drinking, walking and eating in town. The next day I spent writing my blog and socializing in the hostel. We went out with a group of people from the hostel that evening but there were no interesting places in town. The group was very nice though so we had a social evening.
With a slight hangover I decided to drive to the end of the road I found on Maps.me. It was near a town called Yangiabad and about a 130 km drive through a green scenery. Near the end of the road north of Yangiabad there was a big gate with buildings behind it. A little van with had driven up the hill with me and went through the gate. I asked what was behind the gate and they let me in. On of the people there (the son of the owner) spoke good English and told me that it was fine to put up my tent on their property. Also I was allowed to take a shower whenever I want. And after that the owner told me it was maybe better to take a room there, as long as I was on time for dinner. Slightly flabbergasted by the level of hospitality I followed the son to a hotel room where I could stay for the night. Dinner was at 8. We had nice conversations about what they were actually building there. The family was Tajik / Russian and were building a ski resort in the area. They were repurposing old Soviet buildings to hotels and had built a beautiful restaurant next to the brand new piste. I would say they were realizing a dream there, 7 years in the making. I was invited to have breakfast with them the next day and possibly a hike into the mountains in the afternoon. So after a great night sleep I went to have breakfast with them at the restaurant, and also lunch after a walk around the premises. After lunch we were going for a walk with some other people who were in the resort. The were the trainer and physiotherapist of the British national olympic boxing team. We went for a 3 kilometer hike up to a waterfall and brought ropes for abseiling down a 50 meter rock face. I offered to be first to go down. Pretty tough of me to do so, but I nearly shat myself before actually going down. A small scorpion in front of me while trying to lean into the ropes didn’t help either. But eventually, after switching the side rope about 20 meters into the descent, I made it down with completely ruined arms. Awesome and super scary at the same time. Of course I was also invited for dinner again, and if I wanted I could stay another night in the hotel room, which I gladly accepted. In the morning, after breakfast they handed me a 2 liter bottle of local honey for the road and expressed how happy they were to host a traveller like me. It was hard for me to tell them how much I appreciated all this, especially after they also helped me to get some diesel (which was hard to get in the region) from the local diesel mafia. We could all learn from people like these…
It was time to drive to the east again, where the toasty Fergana valley was waiting for me. After a 5 hour drive I ended up in Fergana town where I found Valentina’s hostel. It was kind of hard to find since there were no signs or a precise address in Maps.me. But 2 guys (Indian and Spanish) were just walking up the stairs and helped me find the way in. The Spanish guy was Daniel and would travel with me for the next 3 weeks. I set out to check Fergana that evening and had a beer with the Indian dude and a German girl we met on the street.
The next morning I walked to the center park because there was something going on with music and a market. After Fergana I left to check out a silk factory in Margilan after which I drove in the direction of Kokand to spend my last night in Uzbekistan camping out in nature. After searching for a while in the surroundings, I found a pretty nice spot between the meadows and irrigation channels. Here, I actually put up my tent for once and had a good quiet night.
Daniel and I had set up to meet in the center of Kokand, close to the palace of Kahn. When I arrived he was not there but there were a bunch of kids who were very eager to have a small drive in my car. So I let them hop in and we went for a short drive. After that they wanted to show me the castle of Kahn, which I thought was a good idea while waiting for Daniel. When we got out of the castle, Daniel showed up, quite stressed because he was late and thought I would have left for Tajikistan. So all went well in the end. We said goodbye to the kids and head towards the border of Tadjikistan. The next post will start with the proceedings at the border, which were hilarious :). See you then!