Monday, 23 September 2013

The Uzbek culture and traditions circuit, Khiva (Day 2 afternoon) - The 8th of September 2013


As we walked back towards the Itchan Kala (Inner Town) and upon reaching a small public garden I handed out a decorated pen to a young street vendor who literally jumped into my arms kissing me all over. I wasn't expecting such an effusive reaction because so far no Uzbek had had such an open attitude and despite being extremely affable and kind they reacted in a rather reserved way. I must confess I was surprised and yet particularly happy that she did so (I must have looked as being in need of a kiss !...)

Looking at the 1686 imposing walls that surround the Itchan Kala reminded me of what I had recently read in regards to the numerous revolts and external invasions Khivans were submitted to throughout the centuries, particularly since having obtained their independence from Bukhara in the seventeenth century. Persians are said to have occupied it in 1740 and destroyed many of its monuments until the power was seized back in 1804. 

In 1717 the fate of many Russians slaughtered and sold as slaves under the command of Prince Alexander Bekovitch-Cherkassy upon having reached Khiva clearly denotes the powerful role these 8-10 metre wide and at places 6-8 metre thick walls must have had.

We were given the rest of the afternoon to take the last photos of Khiva and do some shopping before taking the afternoon flight to Bukhara. I took to the streets of the artisans and started distributing some of the presents I had brought for the children in an attempt to avoid spending money on anything, once I had to take into account the return to Paris and the hotel expenses I hadn't been able to settle before leaving. 

Having had to borrow money made me a lot more cautious and despite the amount of amazingly beautiful handicraft things (many of which not too expensive) I couldn't avoid looking at I managed to buy just a few things for those who deserved my gesture.

We had an early dinner at the Madarsah restaurant before heading to the airport of Ourguench. I must confess I had grown attached to this city, once it inexplicably eased my pain following the Paris "ordeal" and I felt a certain degree of sadness to leave it behind. I had read quite a lot about the city we would be visiting afterwards but felt it might be a lot more "impersonal" than Khiva.

The 40 minute flight to Bukhara was uneventful and as we had no passport control procedures to go though it meant that we were at the Hotel in almost no time. The hotel room was not as cosy as my Khivan "cell" but I went to sleep almost immediately as in readiness for the following day's city "expedition".

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