At 8 PM, the President left Urgench, the dump trucks rumbled to life, and the city returned to normal. We enjoyed dinner and toasted Uzbekistan's future over a few bottles of vodka. They had forced us to change plans, but we were in good spirits and had nice, hot showers to look foward to that night. The next morning we had some extra time and went to explore Khiva.
Khiva is an ancient walled city that is still kicking. There were not too many tourists that day as the government didn't want the extra burden of monitoring them with the President in town. It made it more pleasant to walk around, and easier to see who was following us.
The secret service/KGB stuck four guys on us, but they weren't very good at their job. I got a lot of use out of my telephoto lens.
Click here to see our friends. As I stayed an extra day in Khiva,
three of them stuck around just for me! Uzbek hospitality at its finest.
Because I had a lot of time to kill (and because I wanted to make my "friends" work for their salaries), I wandered back and forth through the old streets. Kids ran up to me asking for "bonbon", a testemant to the amount of French toursits who travel to Khiva. Having no bonbons, I instead took their pictures and instantly sated their curiosity by showing the images on the digital viewer.
They loved it! Click here to see more pictures of the kids.