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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Uzbekistan - 29 August, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Samarkand (Xarina Hotel) N3939.265' E06658.547' 720 meters .
Nurata . . . .
Lake Ajdar-Kul (Yurt Camp) N4104.958' E06606.490' 248 meters 311 km
-  Camel trek . . . 6 km (by camel)
Finish Lake Ajdar-Kul (Yurt Camp) N4104.958' E06606.490' 248 meters

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Total Leg 2:

645 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

3,663 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny, very very hot, and hazy.  Cool/cold at night.

 

 

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Today we head off into the Kyzylkum Desert.  After the usual breakfast, we load up the truck and head off west in the direction of Bukhara.  At Navoi, we turn off the main road and head north.  Just before 1 PM, we arrive in Nurata, a small dusty town in the middle of nowhere.

 

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But we are treated to some great local hospitality in one of the homes.  We are invited in and sit on the ground on cushions around a long, low table in a small room.  The table once again is laden with food and drink (just no vodka this time).  We are very hungry by this time, so we dive in and try to make as big a dent as we can in the many dishes scattered around the table.  We try to save some room for the additional hot dishes that will follow.

 

Once again we stuff ourselves and by the end of lunch, we are trying to make ourselves as comfortable as possible around the table, with some people stretching out and taking a short siesta.  Then it is time to go and visit the local site - the sacred spring and fish.  This is nothing special - just a spring filled with fish.  There is a story about how the spring originated, which gives the water (and the fish in it) it sacred quality, but to be honest, we cannot really remember it.

 

Then back into the truck for the hour drive up to Lake Ajdar Kul.  This is a strange place - a huge, blue shimmering lake in the middle of the dry desert.  We do not know the exact history of this place, but we understand that the lake owes it's existence to the massive re-direction of the area rivers undertaken by the Soviets for the irrigation of cotton fields (and which has led to the drying up of the Aral Sea).  Apparently, water seeps out of the man made canals and shows up in various places in the desert as lakes and ponds.  This lake continues to grow.

 

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We stay at a yurt camp near the lake.  This is another page out of the Mad Max saga.  It is hard to describe, but it is a hodge podge of scraps, old surplus military equipment and yurts scattered around a small bowl.  There are camels hanging around on the edge of the camp.  Camouflage netting covers sections of the buildings.  Old cars and trucks, of which we are not sure which still works, lay here and there.  And the heat and glare of the sun.

 

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After getting organised and dumping our stuff on the mats in the yurts, we hang around outside finding whatever shady spot we can.  We spend the rest of the hot afternoon waiting fro the sun to drop in the sky and the air to cool off a bit so that we can go on a camel ride into the the desert.

 

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Ah - the camel ride.  What an experience.  While we have had rides on camels before, this was different.  It seemed like these camels had never had a bath in their lives.  Their back sides (and we mean all of their back sides from hump down to the hooves on their two hind legs) are covered in, well how better to put it than, shit.  That is fine until they pair us up and put some of the camels behind others.  For whatever reason, the camels wanted to get close, which meant that you foot and leg was rubbing up against the back half of the camel in front (or would have rubbed if you did not pull it up and out of the way).

 

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It got even worse when the camels started to take several dumps as we went along (the farts were nothing).  The worst were the ones that seemed to have a bout of diarrhea.  Guess you get the picture - will spare the details (such as color and smell).  The end result - some of us spent most of the ride balancing ourselves on our camel with one leg held up in the air.

 

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Back at the camp, after a few stretches to take the kinks out of muscles we have never used, we relax and hang out while waiting for dinner.  Dinner is served at a long table outside under the clear night sky.  It is wonderful and makes up for the camel ride.  There is the usual orgy of food and drink (including a very rough vodka).  After the many courses and plates of food, we retire to the fire for some singing, sheesha and star gazing.  Another magical moment.

 

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Then off to the yurt for a comfortable night's sleep.

 

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