Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silk Route Trip 2005 - Uzbekistan

5/19/05 Thu Tashkent/Uzbekistan sunny
We left the hotel at 8 am with all the bikes and I waited at the ferry for a miracle. Nothing happened; I received no visa for Turkmenistan.
Sterling is riding my bike thru Turkmenistan. I went yesterday to the U.S. Embassy to give him a power of attorney, after I got my ‘refused’ passport back and after I received a 7 days extension to my Uzbekistan visa.
I helped repair some bikes while waiting on the side of the road for passport control and just hung out until 2 pm before Kirill and I took a car to the airport. The flight left at 5.40 so we had plenty of time. 3 hours later I am in Tashkent, UZ. I am stuck in UZ for 7 days. MIR has arranged some tours for me alone and I need to go with the flow. I learned in the plane that Kirill is a ‘playwright’. He wrote one story that is being filmed right now for Russian TV. It’s about a man coming to a city to get married and he meets his future wife at the airport but…..

He also meets a few other women at the same airport because he promised to marry them, too. He met them all on the internet in a chat room. In the end he even meets his wife, (yes, he is married already) who was delayed on a business trip at this same airport, too. His sex vacation turns into a nightmare for him. Is this a modern comedy? Kirill has nutty ideas!
I went to bed at 11 pm.

5/20/05 Fri Tashkent/ UZ sunny
Breakfast is at 8 am. I am in the ‘Le Meridian’, a big, nice hotel. At 9 am I had a personal tour of Tashkent. Just a few highlights! The city opera was built from 1942 until 1947 by Japanese prisoners of war. I did not see the interior but understand it is elaborate. Next I saw the ‘Statue of Courage’. After the last big earthquake in 1984, Brezhnev sent 25,000 Russian workers to Tashkent to rebuild the city. It took courage to build Russian style apartment houses while the earth still rumbled. Hundreds of tremors were recorded. Brezhnev came after the first shake and shipped at once 25,000 workers to help out. Also free building materials and know-how in setting up Tashkent as the capital of UZ. People wanted to move the capital to Samarqand but Brezhnev spoke of courage and so the Capital remained in Tashkent. Uzbeks did not forget that and build a monument.
Yes, the U.S. and France gave money but to send so many people, boy that was special.
Nice story?? Here is what I believe: Brezhnev deported People all the time, this time to UZ. They were forced to build housing for the Uzbeks. The monument is a Russian monument, paid for by Russia. End of Story!! But I was nice, I listened!
Next stop was at a non-descript Mad rah, a theological Islamic seminary. This building contained a book written on Elk skin and dates from around 600 AD. It is one of the first Korans ever written. The style of the writing is old Arabic, a mix of Persian and Arabic.
The story goes that a smart former king of UZ received this book from the Emir (King) of Baghdad while on a visit there. Many different Korans are displayed in almost every language of the globe. Unfortunately I could not read any of them because they are all behind glass and treated like a treasure. I asked if anybody EVER found any ‘original’ pages of a Koran with the handwriting of Mohammed, the answer was NO!
Uzbekistan is known for the three “M” ‘s. Mosque, Mad rah, Moslem.
Each mosque has a library attached to them for learning, reading and studying the Koran. Studying of the Koran is very much encouraged. I took a walk thru a local neighborhood. It’s called a malhala and is ruled by the Imam of the mosque, or by mutual agreement of all the neighbors. Adobe bricks are used to build most houses, or just thick clay walls up to 2 meters (6 feet) thick. The walls keep the inside very cool in the summer and warm in the winter. No air condition is needed. All the doors and windows are opened from 2 am to 6 am in the summer to let the cool air in. Then everything is closed down and the rooms stay cool during the heat of the day.
One is allowed 2 cows inside the city or 4 goats or sheep. As many foul as one wants. The malhala I saw was very clean and orderly. Gas lines gave heat in the winter and gas was used for cooking, too. Each house had a garden with fruit trees, vegetables and shade. It was cozy and homey. The whole area was a maze and it was easy to loose your way so I did not go very deep into the neighborhood. It sure was a nice experience. I would rather live there then in a high-rise apartment complex. The local Mullah preaches ‘keep it clean’ and it certainly showed in the malhala I saw. No trucks are allowed inside a malhala, no Motor Cycle. It is quiet! People here do not want to move to the absolute city center with high rise apartments, car noise, blaring horns and general modern traffic. They like their neighborhood and I understand why.
Sure it is not easy living with all your neighbors always being around you; with everybody knowing everybody’s business. Yet, it looks and feels great to me, the outsider.
The city of Tashkent allows no Motor Cycle traffic inside the city perimeter. NONE!
I noticed, too that everybody stops for a red light. No sneaking ahead on yellow, either!
The city and this country are run by a dictator and by his hench-men. It is subtle but it is there. Maybe not as severe as Turkmenistan but I noticed it. Roads are being closed because they do not fit the ‘healthy’ picture of a city. I noticed that our hotel, as nice as it is, is ‘parked’ inside a green belt so that most people here do not see how the ‘rich’ foreigners live. Yes, the locals can come here, but they do not.
Broadway is a street near by that is like the town of Anapa in the Ukraine. It is set up like a Carnival with rides and food places and plastic gifts, etc. All that is missing is the beach. What is a street like that doing in this city?
I saw just now the motorcycle I have to ride in a few days in UZ. MIR found this bike so that I get some experiences riding in UZ. It’s a 2 stroke 350cc Jawa. An old bike (1984) and I took a test ride on it. I understand now MIR will have this bike shipped to Xiva (Shiva) and I will ride it back to Bukhara. Well, let’s see how this will work out. I am going with the flow.

5/21/05 Sat Tashkent sunny
Breakfast again at 8 am and then I will be picked up in a car to see the mountains outside of Tashkent. Vladimir, the driver, packed a picnic and after a 3 hour drive we stopped at a non-descript place near a brook and the picnic began. The ride was mostly thru uninhabited areas with very primitive looking landscape; a few houses here and there and some small villages but nothing to write home about. Let me instead talk about the picnic.
First make a fire in a narrow metal case. Newspaper, old wall paper, wood from a fence and wood from a ceiling is used to start the fire. The wood needed to be chopped and Vladimir had an old but sharp axe. Once the fire started (we had wet matches) regular coal was added. Big chunks of coal are broken up into smaller pieces with the back of the axe. Meanwhile, on a foldable table, Vladimir cut up a large Sheep liver (it was wrapped in newspaper and was bloody) and the fat from a Sheep’s butt (a special kind of sheep that collects fat in the ass, looks like a growth when you see this sheep alive). One piece of liver, then one piece of ass fat was put on skewers.
One needs to eat a piece of dark liver and light colored fat to get the right taste. Also on skewers were whole tomatoes, whole baby eggplants and whole green papers. All this was eaten with bread and vodka and/or beer. The salad was raw onion salad. Slice onion fine and then wash in cold water. Add vinegar and some salt and you have…..onion salad!
We bought some mushroom and some honey on the way up to the picnic, too. Vladimir did not know what to do with the mushrooms, he will pickle them at home and then he will let me try them. In addition we had, of course, cucumber; whole, small cucumbers. Vladimir dipped the cuc’s into the honey and it tasted good. It tasted somehow like bananas. Really!
The dishes, after we were finished, were cleaned in the brook with mud as a scouring agent. Kirill tells me that this is the way Russians have picnics. Now you ask me how all this food tasted; Very, very good. The sheep was killed only yesterday, so the meat was fresh. The vegetables, while basic, are healthy. The bread dipped in honey with tea as dessert is wonderful. It was a bit of an unusual day but then new countries, new ideas, new food. I am back in the hotel at 6 pm and from being outside all day I have a slight sunburn.

5/27/05 Sun Urganch (Xiva) sunny
Today I actually just waited for the flight to Urganch at 6 pm. The flight costs MIR $ 37. - The luggage the people carry is amazing. Live birds in cages, Produce in buckets, pickled stuff, stuff wrapped in cloth and God knows what is in the bags they carry. I saw car tires, steering wheels, you name it. All this was on my flight of about 90 minutes and with about 100 people on board. The plane was packed full; with people and with stuff.
I can not get over how clean Uzbekistan is. Sure it is poor, but it is clean. No plastic bags flying around, hardly a cigarette but. Houses are made of adobe, which give the villages a warm, natural look. Sure the walls are crooked and plastic is used for window panes, etc. but it is amazingly orderly and clean. Or is it a reaction on my side after seeing places like Samara or Georgia? I answered Mike Paull’s e mail and told him that, yes; all bikes are banned from the inside center of all Uzbek cities. On all my travels thru UZ I saw only 2 Motorcycles, 3 if you count the one I will be riding tomorrow. I arrived late in Urganch and then took a car to Xiva. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.

5/23/05 Mon Xiva (Shiva) Hot, sunny
Well, I have sunburn from walking thru the old town of Xiva. Xiva was one of the last oasis’ left for the caravans. The Khan (Chan) was the absolute ruler of this kingdom. He judged prisoners, received diplomats, etc. He was the head of his tribe. This area is very tribal. People from 100 Km away are looked at as ‘foreigners’. Before Islam arrived this area believed in Zaroism (fire, water worship). Islam changed all that and the golden age for Xiva was from 1400 to 1700 AD. Yes, even in the 19th century the Khans had the power but the Russians & Europeans came and influenced the people greatly. Trains arrived in 1910 and spelled out the death of the caravans. 1920 or 1924 the Bolsheviks annexed this area to the USSR. Today Xiva is a Unesco Heritage site. This is a very different town from what I saw until now in UZ. Clay mud houses, flat roofs, blue tiles, short and tall minarets, old Islam and an odd feelings on how it was years ago.
I learned that lighthouses in the desert, which guided the caravans, are the predecessors of the minarets. Caravans traveled mostly in the cool of the night and were guided by the stars and---the lighthouses. One could see the fires on top of the tower from far away and once Islam came to the area Islam build the mosque next to these towers. So in fact the minaret came first, then the MOSQUE.
Every Khan had 4 wives. The 4th was always the unlucky wife. She always had to worry about broken arms or limbs, or about being poisoned. (The other 3 wives were jealous and picked usually on #4). If wife # 1 died then wife #2 became wife # 1. Everybody moved up one peg. It was then the job of the new wife #1 to pick the new # 4 wife. It was a must for the Khan to have 4 wives. This area today still has arranged marriages. According to the female guide I had at least 95% of all marriages today are still arranged by the parents. Girls marry young, usually at age 16. First baby comes at age 17. After the wedding night someone still shows the bloody sheets to the people in the malhala. It is an ancient tradition and will not change fast; if at all.
Women dress in colorful dresses. I see a lot of Mongolian influence; dark hair, dark eyes.
Genghis Khan was here for sure. The area is still a horse culture. Horses are still admired and revered. People in the area used to be very nomadic except for the head-man, the Khan. The Khan was sedentary and took care of his people and they could come and talk to him about all their problems. He was very much liked and feared at the same time.
Before the Mongols came and changed everything the people here looked “European”. Now most look Mongolian or a Mongolian Mix. Girls carried their dowry in the form of Silver/Gold/Copper jewelry; the heavier the jewelry the better. Jewelry was actually weighted and a princess needed at least 16 KG to marry.
Xiva has underground wells. Xiva means “sweet water” in the local language. Today the water tastes salty. The water probably comes from the Aral Sea and since the Aral Sea is drying out (100km of dried up shoreline already) the ground water is not being replaced as it was in olden days. People use more water then nature replenishes. 300 days of sunshine a year means its hot most of the time. If (when) it rains it’s not that much. I predict harsh water times ahead. The climate is desert here.
The temperatures in the summer are 40 to 45 degrees Celsius (100 to 110 degrees F). Yes, there is snow in the middle of the winter but only 1 or 2 inches sometimes. Men used to wear lamb skin hats all year round. They believed that these hats kept you cool in the heat, too. Vendors are trying to sell me one of those hats but I look stupid with that kind of hat on and I don’t believe in their assessment of wearing a hat in the summer. Carpets are inexpensive but nobody will GUARANTEE that the carpet will arrive in the U.S.
Woodcarving is fine but how do you get a hand-carved door to the U.S.? The shipping cost will be more than the door would actually cost. (A large double door is about $ 2000.-)
Women in their 40th are fat and look like grandmothers. (They are grandmothers!)
I see women wearing ‘bathrobes’ over their dresses. Very colorful, silver shimmering dresses, too. U.S. women would say ugly, here it’s normal.
Most old buildings still have Russian signs on them. Everybody speaks Russian in addition to Uzbek. This is a must see town but one needs a good guide. I had a good guide! I tipped her $ 15.-, she did a great job. I had lunch in a local restaurant but the food is the same I had for the last week. I will go to the same Restaurant tonight and will get the same food, again! I had Cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, same veggies, lamb etc.

5/24/05 Tue Buxero, UZ hot, sunny, desert
We left early on the famous Jawa bike. Riding in the early morning coolness is best. Kirill, the driver and a mechanic (owner of bike) follow me in a car. I asked Kirill to take pictures of me, I checked later and I am sorry to say, all of them turned out to be really bad. In the pictures I look like an ant in the landscape. He did the best he could, I am sure. Maybe I can rescue something with the computer later.
Well, from the start the bike is old and not very sophisticated. I tried my best but the bike died. It ran, when it go hot, on just ONE cylinder. No power whatsoever. Top speed maybe 40km/hr., twice it seized altogether. All we could do is was to wait until the engine cooled down. There I was, sitting on the side of the road in the hot desert, waiting for the motor to get cool. After a while, the mechanic Serge thought it was a failing right spark plug. We changed the spark plug and it was ok for a while but then, again, same problem; no power! The bike would start ok, just did not have enough power to run beyond 1st gear. By the way, it only had a kick starter. Coming to a traffic light it would quit on me. By the time I got it started again, the green light turned to a red light. It was a struggle! I had the mechanic ride his bike but he could only confirm what I told him, We went along like this until 2 pm and I covered in 7 hours only about 140 Km. Yes, we stopped for lunch waiting for the engine to cool down.

We cleaned the carburetor bowl, found a new spark plug from another guy on the road and we tried and tried.
At 2 pm Serge just pushed the bike back into the van and we made the last 200 Km in no time flat to Buxero.
Buxero is a big city and we are in a small Hotel in the middle of the old city. No vans are allowed (they do not fit into the small streets) and we had to walk in with the entire luggage on our backs. 1500 feet and everybody stared at my motorcycle outfit; I must be the man from Mars according to their mind.
So all I rode in UZ, so far, are about 160 KM (100miles) on an underpowered bike and in about 8 hours with many stops in between. I hope Serge can fix his bike; he has to ride it back to Toshkent starting tomorrow morning.

5/25/05 Wed Buxero, UZ hot, sunny
The group is back. All is well. I received my bike back at the border and it is difficult to shift the bike into 6th gear. I hope it will not get worse because if the spline is damaged, my trip will be over. Greasing the spline is for the Professionals, a good 6 to 8 hour job. To do the job myself is impossible. Let us hope for the best.
Since no motorcycles are allowed inside the city MIR arranged for a police escort. From the border on we will ride with police escort to the hotel. Kirill said these police ‘escorts’ are very expensive. It seems you can get anything as long as you have enough Euros or Dollars. In actuality this day was very uneventful, I sat at the border waiting for the group to arrive. The place is hot without any shade. No place to sit except in the dirty tea house in which you can have lunch, too. Birds (swallows) fly in and out of the door of this restaurant and catch flies right over your head. Their nest is inside of the house and it is a constant coming and going of the birds. Yes, some bird droppings are on the floor and the tables, too. (Egg drop soup anyone?) I counted 4 nests inside just one room. A busy place!

5/26/05 Thu Buxero (Bukhara) hot, sunny
The usual 9am walking tour. Get into the bus, drive a little, get out and look at buildings, walk the streets, get hustled by kids wanting money. Girls hired by stores to talk to you in perfect English asking you: “Hello, where are you from?” then continuing the conversation asking for your name, your city, etc.
After a few more pleasantries they ask you to come to their carpet store, their ceramic shop, their jewelry place, etc. This city seems to have tons and tons of these girls. Young men (boys) selling CD’s, books, hats, etc. There is no place to hide! Nothing you can do to get away. If you get mad at them they really have fun now. In no time will you have 20 girls around you wanting to see you get mad. For their entertainment! The best thing I learned is to totally ignore them. The same way one would ignore a fly. Intimidation works if they speak English well, but not always. “I will take drastic measures and you will regret having been near me” is a line that worked for me yesterday. I have yet to find the perfect ‘deet’ to get rid of this pest.
Young and old like to be photographed. You could have a huge business taking pictures, but what do you do with all these pictures? I saw Helge give out free pictures from last year’s trip. They people looked at them and filed them in a drawer. I guess they are not flashy enough. Maybe if one would frame them for them in a large gold or silver frame they would like them better? I don’t know where the word ‘gaudy’ comes from but it must be this region. Gold embroidery on hats, coats, you name it. Everything is framed in gold. It looks awful to me.
In general the colors are very ‘flashy’ and bright; 4 shades of pink in a design with vivid greens and purple. Harsh colors! The women wear ‘pajama’ pants under their dresses.
We had lunch in a private house but it might as well have been a restaurant. Just a long room, sitting on the floor, eating with knife and fork and the same food I now had for weeks. Cucumber slices and tomatoes as salad; some kind of soup; Cilantro in everything. Soup is either beans or rice with ‘one’ piece of meat and ‘one’ potato in it. Not a small piece, not a large piece. Some assorted dishes with? It looks like stew or is chopped up stuff. Eggplants chopped up and cooked to a mush. Another dish is just cucumbers, diced small with mayonnaise. And in everything there is ‘cilantro’ sometimes we get small meat pies (a large cookie with meat inside) or sometimes a thin dumpling with, potato, egg or meat inside. Kebob (one skewer) with lamb sausage is main event; or sometimes 2 or 3 pieces of lamb meat on a skewer. Dessert is tea, black tea. Maybe we get some raisins or sugar-coated peanuts, or cherries, or Mirabelle. Good food, all in all very good food, but we have it now for lunch and dinner. Everyday since we left Turkey. The dishes are spiced up by yogurt soup or kefir drinks here and there. And……….we still have about 2 weeks to go.
Last night’s dinner included music and belly dancing, etc.
I always try to understand the ‘spirit’ of the people thru their dancing, their music. Sometimes I miss it altogether like when I heard the Korean singing. Last night I understood the music a little. The rhythm reminded me of the walk of the camel on the monotonous sand of the desert. I understood, of course, the seduction dance of the girls, too but it felt strange, I am not sure if I like it. The performing girls got Rick, Helge and John to dance with them. John definitely looked best. We still have a long way to go and this trip seems long and fast paced. Choc-full of history, events and names I know nothing about.

5/27/05 Fri Samarqand, UZB hot, sunny
Again we rode with police escort from Buxero on; the whole way, a trip of 5 hours. Our new local guide is named ‘Jama’ and he was sitting in the lead police car. Every time we changed police cars, he had to get out of the old car and into the new car. All this takes time and co-ordination. A very frustrating ride for us motorcycle riders. This is really a day when group riding stinks. Instead of leaving at 8 am or even 9 am to beat the heat of the day we left at 11 am. There is nothing to do but sit and wait. The hotel we are going to will not allow anybody into their rooms until 2 pm. MIR calculated we have about a 3 hour ride so why leave before 11 am, right? Ok, so we waited. Rick Wenzel was up at 5.30 am just waiting around. It gets hot fast in the desert and temperatures in August can reach 55 degrees C (128 degrees F) IN THE SHADE!
Our weakest rider is Dean; it is not his age (74) it’s his way of riding. Even so we ride as an escort we have traffic coming towards us. He rides so far left and then pulls over ‘just in time” because he believes he has the ‘right’ to do that because of the police escort. I rode behind him and I cringed every time he faced a car or even a big truck. Yes, the police car opens the way for us but……when I saw Dean, in my mind, all day, I saw him having a head on collision. It is very frustrating to see such an attitude in people and I feel helpless in preventing a possible accident. I also saw 4 or 5 riders “bunch up”.
They were riding so close together that “IF” something goes wrong with one of them they will all run together and into each other. It did not help me when we all needed gas and the system at the gas station is the old Soviet system. All this is very frustration. I even call it stupid. First you pay, then you go and pump your gas, then you go back and get your change. The gas station attendant has no small change, no coins. If the meter reads 103.30 you automatically pay 104. The .7 is called a service charge! We had 17 bikes to fill up. It is hot and you sit and wait until the last guy has filled up, paid his bill and then we continue again with our police escort. All of this in full riding gear, sitting in hot desert sun. Group riding is frustrating even if you just want a drink. You can not pull over and drink because you are riding escort. Everything is done as a group. I hate it.
We get to the hotel and it is now 5 pm. I just carried my entire luggage up the stairs and entered the assigned room and it’s not ready. It still has a rumpled bed and used bathroom from the last guest that was here. Back downstairs, sweaty and dirty, asking for another room. Not one “we are sorry “for the mistake from the reception. Just, here is another key.
Back with all my luggage and I am wondering in my mind why they have this attitude. Is this service? This is a 4 star Hotel but you will never know it. It is a tourist factory, that all it is and that is all I can call it. I like small, personal hotels. I find the whole scene ‘frustrating’. It annoys me to be caught in this web and being handled like a sardine, or treated like a cow. I am being ‘processed’ not welcomed for a night’s rest. I am not a feeling person that needs a break from the road but a ‘tourist cow’ that is being milked. I find it very annoying. I feel helpless. Especially when I have to deal with people in charge that are ‘stupid’.
Example: I asked the gal at the reception if they could exchange Dollars to local currency. Her answer:” No, not today, the exchange in the hotel opens at 9am tomorrow. That is were you can change monies.”
The guy next to her said:” at 9.30.”
So I asked:” what time, 9 am or 9.30 am?”
Her answer: ‘the bank opens up at 9 am but the money is only available at 9.30.”
I feel all this frustrating, no stupid!
(I walked to another bank that same evening and exchanged money there.)

5/28/05 Sat Samarqand hot, sunny

Manager: Abdullah ad Badghisi (Abdullah)
Samarqand Bukhara Silk Carpets
Producer of silk and wool, natural vegetable dyed, hand knotted rugs and carpets
Workshop: 12 Hojom Str. 703032 Tel: 998 (662) 310 726
Samarqand, Uzbekistan Fax: 998 (662) 352 273
Mobile: 998 (662) 201 183
E mail:
We also weave carpets to order

I bought 4 carpets for a total of $ 3650. - Incl. shipping charges (DHL)
Carpets arrived and are exactly what I ordered and are GREAT.

Send check to Abdullah’s brother in the U.S.
Hamid Badghisi
2382 E. Moonrise Pl.
Tucson, AZ 85719
Tel: 1-520-322-9659

Send pictures of the weaving girls to UZB, after the carpets have been received.

It is again a day of city touring. It is all about Timor the Terrible 1324? - ? (timberlame)
I find it strange that brutal people like him now are visited by so many tourists. Amazing to think that people today live off what he did and what he built so many years ago. Hotels; taxi and bus drivers; guides; translators; shopkeepers; manufacturers, etc. they all live today just because of him. Statues of him are in the most important places. He feeds the town, even today.
While we are speaking of food; lunch and dinner are a blur since the food I ate is exactly what I had for the last 3 weeks. Locations vary but the content is the same, even down to the bread. It is the same bread.
The tour guide today was good but most of us are on mental overload. We can not remember names, numbers or stories anymore. But it is one more minaret to look at. It is one more story about a woman being pushed off and because of her dress, which worked like a parachute, making her land ‘gently ‘. I would say that most women here are fat, or is it their loose dress? The taste in design and color is so different that it boggles my mind. Colors that do not mix are worn. It is almost like they are picked on purpose to NOT fit together. Does this color sense show in their mind as well? Is this color miss match visible in other things? Is it visible in their behavior perhaps; in their way of thinking? It is obvious to me that it is ugly, what is it to them?
I saw men with huge holes in their sox. It was a brown sock and he stuck a piece of cloth (blue cloth) behind the hole so his skin would not show. Still, it was obvious! Why did he do that? New socks here cost 30 cents. I am sure he smokes more cigarettes then 30 cents worth in a day. About Sanitation: it is clean in the cities. All the streets are swept. It is not messy but it is dusty, dirty. What can you say or what is the explanation for the missing man-hole cover? Or why is that rusty re-bar sticking our here and there? Why are those tiles loose, even on new buildings? Why is the workmanship shoddy? Why is corrugated metal sheets used a lot? Why are the metal sheets loose and rattle and nobody cares?
I just look and ask myself all these questions but have no answers.

5/29/05 Sun Tashkent hot, sunny
This is the last city in UZB; I am ready to move on. We had, again, an escort by police. The first car was so slow we could only ride in first gear. It is actually more dangerous on a bike to ride this slow. Well, what do they know about riding motor cycles? We could not bring our bike into the center of Tashkent. We had to park 10 Km outside the city and MIR arranged a pick up by bus for all of us. Mir also promised that our bikes will be well guarded. Even so we had police escort, no bikes are allowed into the center of Tashkent. Police escort is not that great. On the way into town one of the police cars ran out of fuel. The police man had to flag down a private citizen and this private car took him to a gas station while all of us waited for his return. When he came back with a plastic container full of gasoline his car would not start. Chris Poland’s gas and some know-how from Jim Harding got the police car started. Getting gas for 17 motorcycles is always a fiasco. The gas stations are the Old Russian types, always the same miss trust. First you pay, then you tank, then you have to go and get your prepaid money back. All of this times 17. I hate to get gas in a group setting like this. We had a city tour in the afternoon but it was exactly the same tour I already had. The same guide, too.
Mohammed was born in the year 570 AD and died in the year 631.
Remember the Koran on Elk skin, supposedly written around 630 AD?
The Koran was supposed to have been written AFTER Mohammed died.
The difference in numbers is because of the difference in the Christian and Islamic calendar.
The Islamic calendar is lunar. Year 0 in Islam is the birth of Mohammed.
So when you go to a present day Islamic cemetery, for example, you will read that the person died in the year 1361 but it is actually only the year 1940 or so.
People in USB are friendly and smile easily. They love to have their picture taken. Here in Tashkent is a mix of people. While Bukhara (Buxero), Xiva and Samarqand had more “Mongolic” featured people, here you can see mostly Russians. Stalin moved so many people around that now you have a mix of tribes and nations. I good thing, really!
UZB is very much a tribal country. I heard of 64 different tribes alone in UZB. I can not see the difference but to the people here is seems to make a difference where you come from. Reminds me a bit of old Germany when the Rheinlander looked askew at the Bavarians. Is it still this way today? Can the folks here tell by the dialect?
I remember the looks that were exchanged when a person from East Prussia met a Rheinlander. Or I remember when a Bavarian guy talks to or about a guy from Hamburg. Is this the same here?

5/30/05 Monday Toshqand (all kinds of spelling exists for this town)
What do you do in a city? In the AM we had the same tour I had the first time I came to Tashkent. We added a walk in the bazaar (market) and we rode 2 stops on the Metro.
Yes, nice, clean Metro but most electric bulbs were burned out. It is dark down there. Lots of tiles, marble and it does NOT stink like in NYC. Like I said before, USB keeps their places clean even so they do not maintain them. Fixing something or repairing broken things is not their way. Everything is a bit crooked or some parts are missing. Yet around it all it is clean, is swept up. Tashkent is full of trees, parks and grassy areas. It is full of government buildings, banks and hotels, too. I see a business center for Central Asia. Four countries belong to Central Asia: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. The other countries: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan is NOT considered central and do not belong to ‘Central’ Asia.
UZB wants businesses to come here. Volvo, VW, Chrysler, Ford came over and are building cars already. This country needs good, small cars. This country N E E D S !!

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