For Deefor, one reason to travel this route was to visit the ancient cities of the Silk Road: Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.
The names ring with the history of empires. Alexander, Genghis Khan, Timurlane and many more unremembered in the West. They also provide the backdrop to the Great Game, the battle for control of the route to India played out between the British and Russian Empires.
Khiva is extraordinary by any standards. The old city (Ichan Qala) date back to the 5th Century BC. They, like the rest of he city, were extensively restored by the Soviets but still have the sense of great age.
The city is a maze of buildings all built of the local clay which is said to be of such quality that Mohammad used it to build the city of Medina. Rising from the wall is the Ark: The great fortress/palace of the Khan of Khiva.
The central section is a jumble of mosques, mausoleums and madrasahs all decorated in vivid blue and white tiles with flowing, geometric shapes.
Towering above everything are the Minarets.. They rise over 50m into the sky. Built of mud brick and wood and banded with blue and green tile work. The view from the top is breath taking. And not just from the climb.
Khiva was always going to be a highlight. It lived up to expectations.