Tiff the Tourist

Having arrived at night and passed through the west gate to enter the city, barely able to see the ancient walls in the dark, we woke up ready to be impressed and we were not disappointed.

We were in Khiva, the first of the three UNESCO heritage Silk Road cities, I even went on a guided tour with the group, and I’m not usually good at doing tours- it was very good and interesting but it went on a bit long and everyone voted me to tell the tour guide we'd had enough-
step forward Ms Tactful!

 I did point out we had been travelling for 15 hours across the desert yesterday and that we were all very tired, and my actual words after that were "just how many more mosques are there?" the guide was a bit non-plussed, but quickly said, "only one more mosque" at which a quiet cheer went up.

The final mosque was worth it- full of pillars though I never did find out why. I had become distracted as one of the medrasses (holy school) had been converted into a posh hotel and they had a copy of Hello magazine, the one that features the Royal Wedding, so I borrowed it for a short while to have a flick through it.

Bukhara was our next destination where once more I bumped into people I know from the bike travel world - two Brits and then two Italians who are friends of Miriam the Italian motorcycle traveller who I met in Seattle last year. Finally Samarkand where I got up at 5.00am to get sunrise pictures of the Registan and take Beryl the bike right up to it, at that time of the morning, some money can be slipped to the security guards to turn a blind eye to big BMWs being ridden across the courtyards. Perhaps surprisingly when I presented my plan of action to the group the night before, only one of them thought it was a good idea to get up at the crack of dawn and go around bribing guards. We even managed to go inside a minaret and climb what felt like a thousand steps to get the bird’s eye view from the top. I had naively expected a viewing balcony but actually it was just a gap in the tin roof that we could squeeze our heads out of. I managed to get most of my body out and perched precariously over 100 feet in the air with my bum hanging over the edge to get a couple of photos.