After my completely Wacaday “Timmy Mallet” journey to Nukus in Karakalpakstan (that is not a joke), I ended up in an allegedly very touristic city in Uzbekistan – Khiva, often spelt Qhiva. The weirdest thing was I was told this spot was one of the most touristic in the entire country and would be packed to the brim with German, French and Chinese whackpackers. Yes this is apparently a tourist hot spot, but I’m the only whackpacker in town. Where did it all go wrong?
After getting a car share sorted in the ugly city of Urgench, I was on route to charming Khiva and I was hotly anticipating this place. I got in touch with local entrepreneur and sweet girl Barno, who runs the excellent Khiva Atabek Bed and Breakfast. So that was my base and I had merely a day and a night in Qhiva to explore it, no thanks to a short Uzbek visa length. But this Khiva place, this tourist hotspot, where were all the tourists???
It was me, myself and I for a day backpacking the city on my own. It was odd. It felt like this place should be much more popular. I went into almost every medressa, mosque, museum and courtyard inside the Ichon Qala – the Old Town. I toured the entire old city, I’m not going to do a backpacker’s top 5 for it. I loved the city but it just felt so desolate so empty, check out my photos and you’ll see what I mean.
Where were all the tourists? Had they all jumped across the border to Turkmenistan? (I mean, it is only about 10 kilometres from the border).
Perhaps it’s nice not to do a whackpacker’s top 7.38 sights in Khiva. You can go there yourself and check out all this stuff. Of note, though, the West Gate, the viewpoint from the North Gate for “sunset”, the walls of the Ichon Qala and the impressive Kuhna Ark.
I had my dinner in what seemed to be the ONLY restaurant open, Rustamboy Restaurant they had Sarbast beer (Uzbek) and Patir (some kind of bread thing with beef in it).
So here’s to the ghost town of Qhiva, incredible place and so so remote and odd! Have you ever been to Qhiva? Wasn’t it a beautiful place waiting to be discovered?
Here are some videos from my time whackpacking it through lonely Khiva: