About Uzbekistan: In a short week, I have grown very fond of the country and people of Uzbekistan. The people are gentle, calm, and kind. They are looking for ways to catch up with the rest of the world, but in another respect they. maintain a balance of initiative and acceptance. The driver summed it all last night. On the drive from the airport around midnight, he said to me, unsolicited, “People who visit Tashkent ask where the night life is. People in Tashkent prefer to sleep”.
About the Silk Road: the sights weren’t quite what I thought they would be. I guess I was expecting museum quality perfection. The presentation of archaeological finds, while being designated UNESCO world sites, is still hampered by a country’s wealth and priorities. That might explain why Germany has a high number of heritage sights, aside from probably having a heavy hand in the designations. Italy has the highest number of any country in the world.
In places like Uzbekistan, some of the work is performed by others not much better trained for that type of work than you or me. Matching original materials with what is currently available is dependent on money and knowledge. Our Western attitudes and expectations impose pressure on countries to deliver better appreciation of their cultural relics. This of course is controversial and can be debated.
On traveling alone: a friend referred to me as “gutsy”. I guess I have always been a bit rebellious, refusing to listen to the voice of reason. But this was in a way pretty safe and predictable, without dipping into the odd looks at my traveling alone. People either assume I am I married or divorced, and I don’t always feel compelled to convince them that I am happily married with kids.
I always seem to end up bringing Gee Kin back to the places I visited without him, so I have become a scout of sorts. Maybe that’s the role I enjoy, and he has been incredibly generous, supportive, and understanding of my compulsion. It certainly was true of Germany and Turkey. Obviously, it’s a lot of fun to share these experiences with your partner, family and friends, with a higher rate of predictability.
It’s not so bad, either, to have time to collect your thoughts about where you are, how you are seeing them, and why things happen the way they did historically. It’s a different lens from which you are seeing the world.
For now, I have completely satisfied my needs and wishes for this part of the trip and look forward to sharing the next segment with Gee Kin who will be meeting me at Midnite in Urumqi! We’ll be picking up the Northern part of the Silk Road in Northwestern China, so stay tuned….
Photos below, from top, left to right:
1. Tour group from Ferghana Valley visiting pilgrimage sites. The local gentleman jumped into the picture of ladies because he couldn’t resist getting his picture taken! (They also loved being photographed).
2. Djuma Mosque. six of the columns date back to the 10-12thC, but most of the construction dates to the 18-19thC. The new columns were propped up with copper bands to protect them from insects and moisture.
3. Niche facing Mecca, as all mosques have.
5. Camel for comic relief! Good tourist trap.
6. King’s harem courtyard in the Tash-Hauli Palace
7. View of the inner city bound by a fortress wall
8. Reconstruction is actively taking place throughout Kiva, using sun dried mud brick covered with straw reinforced mud.
9. Detail of column with swastica sign
10. Kunya-ark Mosque.