Well, all loyal family and friends,
Around the world in 68+12 days has come to an end. It has been an incredibly fruitful, deep learning and deep cleansing experience for me. I was able to get all those kinks out of my system that I carried through many years of working, and could really stretch my brain by choice to its fullest. The trip to Uzbekistan stands at the top, for its luxurious setting, those who took exceptional care of me, and its little known but amazing cultural presence.
Both the Northern and Southern portions of the Silk Road were important links to understanding the development of trade and culture between east and west. To this day, the blending of the two are sometimes indecipherable. Who was to blame? Who gets the credit? Historians will be left to answer those unanswered, or unanswerable questions.
Thanks to Gee Kin for being my translator and guide for the Northern portion. We had to wing it in many cases, but got a lot of pride and prejudice from our decisions. It was riding wild and woolly, and a lot of fun in the process. The Southern portion, with excellent guides and a tour company to iron out all the logistics in advance (including a very clumsy visa process), get a round of applause for keeping my mind, body and spirit healthy and happy.
Keeping a blog obviously has its ups and downs, but overall it served as my companion. It gave me impetus to research questions on the spot (although you may find some of my facts and entries flawed or missing backup data). I tried to keep my impressions in the forefront and timely to avoid getting bogged down and behind. With a little bit of discipline, it seemed to work and the pace was very manageable.
For anyone contemplating doing a blog, I would say it’s worth a shot. Setting up a travel itinerary with an educational intent, whether you document it or not, helps to move the interest level up a notch (as opposed to picking a spot like Mexico, Galapagos, etc. purely from a bucket list). That will compell you to look ahead each day and determine what you want to achieve in advance. Then the documentation part comes much more fluidly.
I have a lot to say about postings and where you are posting from. Technically, an average person can decipher blog formatting. What is difficult is if you get “messed with”. No more needs to be said, except that its great to be back in a free country. We shouldn’t take that too lightly. Naturally, the hotels and their claims for Internet access are really a crap shoot, but try to remember that we are not in San Francisco, where access seems to be a right and not a privilege.
My whole premise for this trip is to make connections by connecting the dots. Remember how fun it was to play that graphic game with pin points on a grid? You could claim the boxes you made. Same delight for me, and it was fun to play alone as much as it was to play with others. My all-time favorite book and quote comes from Howard’s End, and the frontispiece message, “only connect”…
Two books I will reiterate were worth reading before, during and after this trip are “the Silk Road-A New History” by Cynthia Hansen and “the Orientalist” by Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Reiss. I have thanked the donors of this latter book profusely, and for introducing me to such an enlightening book. It was totally appropriate to my wants and desires to understand where and why I was traveling. So thanks again, Leena and Jim!
I would be remiss if I failed to thank Hanni and Jens for inspiring me to study in Germany, and all of their intensive care and concern during my stay in Dresden. Knowing local residents of my favorite European city made all the difference, and they gave me confidence to make the leap into a new and welcoming environment. Viele Danke, Hanni und Jens!
So, goodbye, auf Wiedersehen und Zai Jian once more, to all friends and family who were willing and able to participate! Stay in touch, and I love you all!!
Fondly, warmly, wonderfully, gratefully, happily,
PS. An updated index of posts will follow as my final post.