Urgench is actually 2 towns, the ancient in Turkmenistan and the modern one across the border in Uzbekistan. They also include the ancient settlement of Khiva.
New Urgench is a vast fertile valley served by the Darya River which originates in Tajikistan. The area has been irrigating for more than 2,000 years, growing cotton and rice for export on the Silk Road. It also has exported alfalfa and other seeds for hundreds of years. Since the advent of electricity and pumping power it has really expanded irrigation as it looks like some city along Highway 99 in California.
Walking away from the train station we stopped for breakfast and Paige spotted a restaurant with 2 tandoor type ovens. It became obvious that they were very popular as people bought them one after another.
We’ll take two! A samosa of some sort with a spicy meat filling and a sauce on the side. It took a couple tries to eat them correctly without silverware. When in Rome….
Khiva – a crown jewel and great summation to our Central Asia Silk Road adventure.
Per Lonely Planet – The historic heart of Khiva (Xiva) has been so well preserved that it’s sometimes criticised as lifeless – a ‘museum city’. But walk through the city gates and wander the fabled Ichon-Qala (inner walled city) in all its monotone, mud-walled glory and it’s hard not to feel like you are stepping into another era.
Within a hour of our arrival, while having lunch, the same Road Scholar tour group we saw Kazakhstan and Tajikistan walked past us!
Our hotel was within the town walls so it was super convenient to walk, eat, explore and take photos. Rinse and repeat for 3 days. Palaces, madrasas, caravansaries/markets filled the town. The night time was stunningly peaceful as the whole town was magically lit.
We celebrated Bill’s birthday at a roof top restaurant with a sunset dinner. Below a woman baked fresh bread Tandoor style.
My camera finally kicked the bucket! No more limping along. Now just dead weight in my pack.