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The environmental disaster of the Aral Sea is well documented. Excessive water usage by the Soviet Union and, later, the independent state of Uzbekistan, for cotton cultivation resulted in the drying up of the southern part of the Aral, formerly the fourth largest lake in the world. 

Moynaq, also spelled as Muynak and Mo'ynoq, is a former fishery town directly situated at the shore of the Aral Sea. The Sea has now retreated more than 150 kms further north, and the former seabed has become the Aralkum Desert. 

The town has become a so-called disaster tourism destination. I guess I was a disaster tourist myself - I wanted to see what has become of this town and its inhabitants. Extending a work trip to Uzbekistan, I hired a car with an Uzbek journalist and spent a few days in Moynaq in 2013.

The first thing to see in Moynaq is always the former sea shore, where a Memorial was built to commemorate the loss of this unique inland lake.

The former shore area is a depressing sight, and has a distinct feeling of a deserted border town.

However, the population has not completely abandoned the town, waiting for better times to come and being reminded with signposts everywhere of the former glory of their town.

The cannery factory lies abandoned on the edge of town, and is only frequented every now and then by kids gathering metal scrap for sale.

Behind the cannery factory, a small lake tricks the visitor into believing that some of the Aral Sea is still close by..... but alas, no.

The rusting bodies of ships have been brought to the former shore to give the impression as if this had been Moynaq's port area - but the wrecks are stage managed for tourists.

The procession of cows, however, are not stage managed - they appear out of nowhere in the afternoon and are clearly brought to some meagre pasture on the former sea floor. 

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