Moynaq (Munyak), Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan
It’s timely I am posting this, there was recent news about the Aral Sea. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the planet’s most shocking environmental disasters. The Aral Sea, situated in the Karakalpakstan State of Uzbekistan, was once the world’s fourth-largest in-land sea, it has since shrunk by 90 percent, the rivers that feed it were largely diverted in a failed Soviet cotton production project. The disaster had ruined the once-robust fishing economy around Moynaq town and left fishing trawlers stranded, as seen in the photos, impoverishing the whole area. The whole area lost so much water that the whole area has turned into a salty sandy wasteland.
I met these young kids chopping fire wood from the salt bushes around the desert areas, they speak a little english and asked me where I came from and how old was I and if I could spare them some american dollars. Although I declined, they continued communicating with me, through my notepad, we drew little objects as a way of asking questions, quite a friendly pair of boys, I came to know they lived around the area in town and walked here for fire wood and for their goat, and one was part of the Kazakh people and the other was half russian, they were about 14 years of age. They were quite enthusiastic about getting me to take their photos by posing in various places. They gave me their address and I promised to send them photos, I don’t know if those photos ever reached them.
The later part of the evening, a few other groups of children came along to collect fire wood, I chatted with them, interesting to find out that almost half of them had russian parents who migrated to this region (probably for fishing and soviet organised industries) and the other half was from the Kazakh area. However one particular group of young children came along later, much younger and were quite the rude ruffians when they demanded for some money.
Curious about the Karakapalstan state, and had wanted to visit a much wider area prior to travelling to Uzbekistan, I was tempted to stay a night around this town to find out more about how people live around this place. It wasn’t as bleak as I had initially thought it was.
I was with a few other travel companions, and almost wanted to spilt up with them to discover more, they were quite unwilling to stay around this area and a few grew quite impatient with me lingering around the area. Alas one of the many disadvantages of group travelling. You don’t get to choose where you want to go. This was one of my regret of not staying around the town to visit the Karakapalstan state.