We were awakened at 6:48am by loud Americans right outside our hotel room. They probably had a 7am meeting time for their group, and were waiting idly (and loudly). We got back to sleep, but then were awoken again before 8. This time we got up and got ready, including our first shower in two countries. ;-) The breakfast hall was relatively full, with mostly American, but also Spanish and Italian and German, plus some Asian folks. There was lots of stuff, but nothing looked (or tasted) particularly appetizing. We got filled up best as possible, then met Firdacz, who introduced us to Iroda, our guide for the day. We got the distinct impression that we'd get a different guide everywhere we went, but that Firdacz would be with us from one side of the country to the other. Just after walking in through the city wall gate, we realized we had a truly local guide. The woodworker we'd seen the night before was her brother. And the house next door was where she grew up. We walked across town to purchase entry tickets (for the museums and whatnot) at the west gate. There were substantially more people out and about than when we walked around for dinner the night before. In the center of town we saw a random camel standing in front of the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah.

The first thing Iroda showed us was actually just outside the western gates, a statue of Muhammad Ibn Muso Al Xorazmiy, the person for whom both "algorithm" and "algebra" are named. He was a Persian scholar in the 8th and 9th centuries that wrote books on mathematics, astronomy and geography. In the 12th century, Latin translations of his work made its way to the West. "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" was the first book to discuss linear and quadratic equations, and introduced the methods of "reduction" and "balancing" that we all learned in school. The word "algebra" comes from al-jabr, one of the operations he used to solve quadratic equations. "Algorithm" comes from Algoritmi, the Latin form of his name. During his lifetime, Khiva was in the Persian empire, which is why there is a statue in Khiva.

Back inside the city walls we went into the Kuhna Ark, which is just inside the western gate. [By the way, we learned that "Darvaza" is the term for gate, which may explain why the gas crater in Darvaza is called the "Gateway" to Hell. Or it's just coincidence, who knows.] The Kuhna Ark had various interconnected courtyards and buildings. Some of the noteworthy items were:

Nearby there was a base of an enormous unfinished minaret, the Kalta Minor minaret. It is covered with blue and green tiles for the part that is finished. It was originally supposed to be larger than the minaret in Bukhara, further east on the Silk Road (and where we'd be driving tomorrow). Word got back that the Khan from Bukhara wasn't happy about this, and the architect stopped work accordingly. The next stop was the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah. There were some materials memorializing the Khan Mohammad Rakhim, but nothing too noteworthy. There was also a small museum regarding traditional music. But as we were leaving, we randomly stumbled upon acrobatics show that was about to begin, in the middle of the courtyard. We paid a nominal fee (we had changed some money this morning) and watched the show, which lasted about 10-15 minutes.

Making our way east across the city, we next stopped at the Pahlavon Mahmud complex. This included a summer mosque, a winter mosque and a mausoleum. Apparently the mausoleum is one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in Uzbekistan. Pahlavon Mahmud translates as "strong man," as he was apparently a brave, handsome hero for the people. Among other things he was a wrestler, doctor, poet and saint. So he checked a lot of boxes. He is revered throughout Persia, but also India as well, for his wrestling prowess. The present building was built in the 1700s. In the 1800s the mausoleum became a necropolis for the rulers of the then-ruling dynasty.

The southern entrance is the oldest part of the present building. It has an inscription on the wooden door indicating the date 1701. The mausoleum has an oval turquoise dome with white ornaments on the lower edges. Within the mausoleum are the richly decorated sarcophagus of Khan Mohammed Rahim and two sarcophagi of black marble of the historian Khan Abu Al Gazi who died in 1663 and of Khan Anush who died in 1681. Beside the prayer room is the crypt with the grave of Pahlavan Mahmud. We were checking out the sarcophogus when a well-dressed family came in. Iroda told us that the family was dressed for a celebration, specifically that the young boy was about to be circumcised.

Before we left for our trip, after listening to one of the Amateur Travel podcasts, we asked the folks at MIR if they could make sure we could go up the Islam Khodja minaret, the tallest one in Khiva. We wondered why this wasn't on the tour to begin with, but happy they took care of it. Climbing the minaret was in tight quarters, with the stairs being shaped like pizza slices, with hardly any room on the inside, and all the space - which wasn't much - on the outside. So when a group came down as we were headed up, it wasn't great. Iroda told us that the minaret was 57 meters tall and had 118 steps to the top. That didn't sound right to us, at 18" up for each step. Having now done it, we don't doubt her. The view was very nice from the top, as we could see well beyond the city walls into the newer part of town. The Pahlavon Mahmud mausoleum was right nearby, with several green and turquoise domes on top. On the way down, our quads started to cramp from bracing ourselves on the descent. By the time we got to the bottom, we understood why MIR had not booked this as part of our tour - it was nice, but it wasn't for everyone.

Juma Mosque was our next stop. This mosque goes back further than most everything in Khiva, to the 10th century. The layout is fairly simple, with almost no decoration aside from 212 ornately carved wooden columns that support the ceiling. The columns are spherical at the base, and get narrower towards the top. Each one is carved differently from the next. We wandered around for 5-10 minutes, checking out the different designs. Some of the columns go back a millenium, but only a small handful. The next stop was Tash Hauli Palace, a large complex having three separate parts with courtyards. The largest part was the Khan's harem, and the two smaller parts were the Court office and reception room. It was built in the early 1800s. The harem had four rooms. Outside of each room was a hanger, and the Khan would hang his hat on the hanger for whichever room he was spending the night in. The facade on the Tash Hauli Palace was intricately designed with blue and turquoise tiles, again very similar to what we saw in Iran. There was slso pink tilework on the ceiling, which was vaguely reminescent of the Nasir-ol Molk Mosque in Shiraz.

Iroda wrapped up around 12:30, which was kind of unexpected, since we hadn't read itinerary and assumed we had a full day tour. But before she left us, she told us a parable about one of the Khans who had eleven sons and really wanted a daughter. He was firmly convinced the twelfth child would be a daughter, but was away at battle when the child was born. It was a son, but not wanting to disappoint the Khan, everyone treated the youngest child as a daughter. Once the daughter realized what was going on, she also treated herself as a girl. Many years later, the Khan was taken prisoner in a battle. The daughter infiltrated the enemy territory and started a dialogue with the rival leader. She brokered a deal where she got her father's release, in return for her agreeing to marry the foreign leader. When the truth (inevitably) came up, she told her father how she'd pretended to be a girl all along, and why she did what she did to free him. Her father told her in response "All these years I thought I had eleven sons and one daughter, but it turns out I've actually had eleven daughters and one son."

For lunch, we headed back to the western part of town and had lunch at the Terrace Cafe. We'd seen it earlier, and it seemed like it would have a great view, being between the Kuhna Ark and the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah. It was a nice view, but it was very chilly. Whatever cold front had come through the day before was still impacting the temperature, even if today it was mostly blue skies. Justin had underdressed, and was a bit cold, but he didn't want to wear his convertible pants one more day in a row. There were about 20 other people on the roof, and the only server was a lone waitress that was looking increasingly frazzled by the minute. She kept apologizing as she walked by, unable to have time to take our order (or even give us a menu at first). We ordered a bottle of red wine to start, but since they were out (3 tables over got the last one), we actually got a rosé.

Besides the wine, we decided to splurge a bit on the food as well, since so many things looked good. We got four dishes to split - shashlick (shish kabob), fried lagman (a thick noodle dish, sort of resembling chow mein), dill pasta, and a ravioli soup (basically wonton). We also shared a bottle of Coke. For all of this - which was excellent, by the way - the total was $17. This would be incredible anyway, but all the more incredible given that we were at one the "premier" restaurants in the most heavily-touristed area in Khiva. Well, we weren't complaining. Besides the $17, we also tipped the lady handsomely, and she was very thankful. [When we exchanged our money, the exchange rate was about 8000 som to 1 dollar, and we got all the money in 5000 Som notes, so each bill we had was 62.5 cents. So even with the food being inexpensive, that was 30 bills. The tip also ended up being a big wad.]

After lunch we walked around other the areas inside the walls, mainly the north and south. We were able to ascend the city walls at the North Gate, and walked along the perimeter around to the west side. it was pretty cool being up on city walls, as it made it a little easier to imagine what it was like back in the day. We got down off the walls and walked around the interior perimeter of the wall, heading down the west side to the south. It was pretty much all homes and very tiny BnBs, all very nondescript. On the east side there was an old caravanseri that was now a collection of shops. We looked around but didn't see anything that jumped out at us. We kept walking counter-clockwise around the interior of the wall; once we were at the north gate, our circle of Khiva was complete. At this point, Crystal headed back to the hotel. Justin walked some more, and went to the west terrace.

It was pretty hard to find the terrace entry, as it was within the Kuhna Ark area. Eventually he found it, and the walk up the terrace was no issue. At the top, there were two viewing areas, and they each had a nice view. After that he headed back to the hotel, where Crystal was chilling out. We headed to dinner a little before 7. We looked for somewhere else to eat dinner, but nothing looked remotely busy except for where we ate the night before and where we had lunch today. We decided to go to the same place as the night before, Mirza Bashi. The young guy who spoke English remembered us, and it seemed like he forced people who were about to leave to hurry up, so we could sit down. Hopefully they really were about to get up. We got two different soups, Crystal got egg ravioli, and Justin got shashlick. The wine was good, but we think sulfites are an issue in Uzbekistan, as we had a bit of a headache.

We went to the hotel bar again, but it was empty, so we gave up after 10 minutes of no one there. So we went to the front bar - right by check-in - which wasn't really a bar, but just a tiny little place to sit. We got one drink and then headed back to the room. We checked the internet - again, we should really stop doing that, as there is no good news anywhere. We waited for some of our podcasts to download, as we had a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, but then we went to sleep.

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