Thursday August 13, 2015
After having taken 1 year hiatus for administrative reasons, Gulnara and Dimitri were able to return to Bukhara, Uzbekistan where their bicycles and gear had been patiently waiting for them in a guesthouse.
They first took a side-trip to visit the ancient Silk Road beautiful trading post of Khiva and thereafter the rapidly disappearing Aral Sea in the Karakalpakstan northwestern region.
The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters".
In the early 1960s, Soviet government decided the two rivers that fed the Aral Sea, Amu Darya in the south and the Syr Darya in the east, would be diverted to irrigate the desert, in an attempt to grow rice, melons, cereals, and cotton. This was part of the Soviet plan for cotton, or "white gold", to become a major export. This temporarily succeeded, and in 1988, Uzbekistan was the world's largest exporter of cotton. In the process, region's once-prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed, bringing unemployment and economic hardship.
On August 12th, Gulnara and Dimitri were able to resume the expedition on their bicycles, moving southwest towards the Turkmen border, crossing 104 kms of farmlands before arriving at the Turkmen border on August 13th 2015.