Deserts and dictators. Yurts and nomads. Silk Road cities, staggering yet underrated mountain ranges, Soviet detritus, and one of the world’s greatest road trips.
This is Central Asia. The ‘Stans. Never well understood, but absolutely worth an attempt to understand.
A glimpse of Pik Lenin (23,000+ feet) along the Pamir Highway near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
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I don’t know why my country, he likes to cheat everyone.
– Aziza, an Uzbek woman, rhetorically pondering why many of her Uzbek countrymen enjoy ripping off tourists so much.
Shaft us once, shame on you. Shaft us twice, shame on us. Try and shaft us repeatedly and charge our friends $1.00 for a few teaspoons of sugar, and we write a blog post about you. [Yes, one of our travel mates was repeatedly charged for sugar – and outrageous sums, no less.] Continue Reading »
We unintentionally followed the Silk Road in reverse order – from somewhere near its western end in Tbilisi, Georgia to its eastern terminus in Xi’an, China. Although our first taste of UNESCO Silk Road sites occurred in Turkmenistan (Merv), Uzbekistan is where the Silk Road unexpectedly reaches a sophisticated tourist marketing level.
Don’t worry, we won’t bore you with a bullet list of must-see Silk Road sites. There are plenty of those in guide books and all over the internet. You can (and should) check out our short photo set of Silk Road sites in Uzbekistan.
This scavenger hunt is intended to help you get under the surface of Uzbekistan’s polished Silk Road tourist veneer which you’ll find in Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand. We’ve also thrown in Nukus and Tashkent as a bonus. The list below includes some serious suggestions, as well as a few head-scratchers. Continue Reading »
If a baby died, its bones would be kept in a ceramic jar in the house.
– Our guide Oleg providing another fascinating background tidbit on the ruins at Gonur Depe, Turkmenistan.
Fifteen minutes later, one of us literally kicked up the fragmented top of an ancient ceramic urn encrusted with earth and filled with small bones. The bit about the bones may sound morbid, but when you realize that what you just overturned with your hiking boots probably dates back 1000s of years, it becomes a really cool find. Continue Reading »
Taking advantage of free wireless internet in Tashkent, we’ve decided to conclude our time here by uploading photos from Uzbekistan’s Silk Road.
Tashkent has been the most connected city in Central Asia thus far. Rather ironic considering Uzbekistan’s penchant for blocking internet sites and restricting printed material. Just one of the many contradictions here. Continue Reading »
Check out our Photo Gallery for photos from Turkmenistan, a fascinating place by any measure. Images tell only half the story – stay tuned for more on the country that dabbled in banning beards, smoking and spandex. Continue Reading »
As we continue along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, our minds often take us back to Turkmenistan, whose ancient history is longer and remains underground, unexcavated and unreconstructed.
The few clicks across the Caspian Sea brought us to a world of visual stimuli significantly different than that of the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). This is what we’ve always envisioned when historians speak of the iconic Silk Road and the Orient. Continue Reading »