The Silk Road and Pamir Highway

Fann Mountains

The silk road conjures images in the mind of exotic faraway lands, eschewed by the crowds, with a blend of Asian and European cultures combining under the backdrop of bustling bazaars, spice markets and beautifully tiled mosques, well, it’s kind of like that. In truth, in Uzbekistan at least, there are crowds, hordes of older bus tours roll around these plains, and bazaars that may have once traded in exotic goods now sell post cards and cheaply made souvenirs, the spice markets still exists, although it’s unclear exactly where the spices end up, because it certainly isn’t in the local food. As we moved through from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the crowds dissipated, the true wonders of this part of the world revealed themselves; friendly locals, dramatic and diverse landscapes, and a place untouched by mass tourism. While modernity has long since touched down in Central Asia, local culture and customs still endure, there is still plenty to discover.

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Turkmenistan: A Peak Behind The Curtain

One of the least visited countries in the world possesses a number of world records, most of which are so obscure as to be completely redundant. The country’s enigmatic leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow’s list of credentials for the job appear to consist solely of the fact that he was the dentist of the previous, now deceased, also inscrutable leader. If you’re not impressed by the world record high density of white marble buildings the capital of Ashgabat has to offer, you should probably at least look like you are, you’re possibly being watched, and they are proud of that record. Welcome to Turkmenistan! As far police states go, at least this one has nice parks and has a place to get a flat white, and mercifully, our first beers after being in Iran for nearly a month.

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