Saturday, June 10, 2006

Aral Sea

As with Samarkand and Bukhara, Khiva was another one of those cool old towns along the silk road. The only real complaint out here is that it's all a little too restored and clean now so you lose a lot of the atmosphere. In the old towns themselves there are all these great building but really the only people there are tourists and souvenir hawkers. The markets are also pretty small and don't have that same kind of chaos found in Kashgar or even Osh, let alone India. In that sense it's been disappointing but in a way it makes for a much easier day. Amazing how much better tea is at rehydrating you than water is. Just load up on tea at breakfast and off you go. Don't even need another drink until late afternoon.
From Khiva we went further north to Nukus. Not very exciting but today we went on a "field trip" to Moynaq. Moynaq was once the southern fishing port on the Aral sea. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't but the Aral sea is considered the world's worst artificial ecological disaster. Back in the 60s the Soviets decided to divert the water from the 2 rivers that flow into the Aral into canals instead and use it to irrigate the desert. So the desert (as we've been driving along a lot of it) actually is acres and acres of cotton fields (Uzbekistan is the world's 2nd leading producer of cotton). At one point over 90% of the rivers were diverted to the canals and the Aral quickly began to shrink causing all sorts of problems in the area. Hotter, drier summers, colder and longer winters. It's gone from the 4th largest lake in the world to the 8th or something but the area difference is huge. Moynaq now sits more than 100km from the shore and there is no fishing industry at all. Moynaq's population has largely disappeared and you can walk around just outside of town and pick up seashells from the desert floor and climb on deserted boats stuck in the sand. Quite strange and tragic to think that it was all done on purpose.
We are off to Turkmenistan tomorrow. It is known as "the other North Korea" because it is so restricted and paranoid so we won't have internet access again until we get to Azerbaijan, hopefully in a week.
Ammon

1 Comments:

At 8:20 AM , Blogger huggybigbear said...

He Guys, have enjoyed as always all the descriptions, and am still always amazed at your adventerous spirit.
Tell Bre that I grew up going to the Opera/Ballet/Symphonies in Vanc, and totally agree. I especially love the pagentry o the grand opera. the VOA is usually quite good, you should try to go when you get home, and definitely if you get any more chances on the road.
Ammon, i think you confuse human physiologic adaptation to chronic situations with the tea, tea is a natural diuretic. Try adding a touch of sugar and a pinch of salt to your water for a week and see if you notice any difference. You probably won't. Our bodies still deal best with water, the kidneys have an obligate solute load each day to clear as you know, so try just lots of water. And keep up the amazing writings

Of course you could partake of the nectar of the gods called pepsi, right Maggie?

I know you are all very brave, smart, adventurous, seasoned...ect. But please be careful, I feel anxious on your behalf for some reason.

Love to you all, and as always,
my Big Bear Hugs
Shean

 

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