Far from the Glitter and Gold

Turkmenistan August 8, 2019 The cities of Turkmenistan are modern with excellent roads, fleets of new cars and slick buildings. Important landmarks are lavishly decorated with over-the-top grandeur. Strange monuments dot traffic roundabouts, to be topped by even stranger ones at parks and boulevards. But heading out of any city, I go past old Soviet-style … More Far from the Glitter and Gold

Riding the Rails

Turkmenabat to Mary August 5, 2019 Surprisingly painless to buy a train ticket, I wondered at the lack of rudeness on the part of the ticket agent. They must have not got the memo that all ticket agents in ex-Soviet countries received. The lack of internet and wifi to blame perhaps? Waiting in the cavernous … More Riding the Rails

In a Bizarre World

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan August 7, 2019 Smack in the middle of a scorching desert is Ashgabat but you would never guess it from the number of parks and flowering shrubs that line medians and border parks. Fountains spout at corners of wide boulevards, each more bizarre in design than the last. One can only wonder at … More In a Bizarre World

Fabled Margiana

Merv, Turkmenistan August 6, 2019 The Greeks called it Margiana. Some called it Margush. Located squarely on the trade route between Asia and Europe, at the western terminus of Transoxiana, it was once called Marv-i-Shah-Jahan, or Merv, Queen of the World. The changing course of Amu Darya had over the centuries, caused settlements to shift … More Fabled Margiana

This is Your Lunch

Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan August 5, 2019 I needed manats, and knowing to steer clear of the banks, headed straight to the bazar. Thanks to the huge discrepancy between official and unofficial rates, Turkmenistan like Uzbekistan before, has a thriving black market. But word is, undercover police are plentiful and discovering the result of breaking laws in … More This is Your Lunch

A Shopaholic’s Delight

Bukhara, Uzbekistan Aug 3, 2019 The trading domes in the old town dating back to the Silk Road days, still have shops. But these now sell handcrafts, most very beautifully made. Suzanis and carpets, embroidered table-cloths and cushion covers, jackets and dresses, hand-painted miniatures vie with handmade knives and swords made by master craftsmen. What … More A Shopaholic’s Delight

In Bactria Again

Termez, Uzbekistan July 28, 2019 My wanderings in Balkh and Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan were intriguing because of the wealth of history this part of the world is steeped in. And frustrating becauseĀ I could not travel easily or see the many sites that I wanted to. But Bactria of old had boundaries that stretched beyond Amu … More In Bactria Again