Day 153


Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. William Morris

So the stomach has been healed by some crazy Uzbek tablets that I swear would stop the BP oil
leak. Taking medicine that you have no idea what it is or what it does or how much you should take is fun kids. Over dosing on it is not… Good and bad.. good and bad….

Aside from such such inflicted disasters the best part of travelling in this part of the world is the people that you meet also travelling in this part of the world.

Conversations regarding esoteric cold war knowledge and constructing a pick and place machine with a 24 year old South African; a French Guy who dreams of running a Yurt resort then travelling the other six months of the year; meeting Mitchell the South Korean again who has been on the road for 16 months and is approaching his 75th country in total; the English girl who was not allowed to leave Mashhad due to being accused of being an Uzbek spy and was then forced to take the next available flight out of the country – too India; Rob and Anna the Polish couple travelling with Ben from England (http://www.cyclingnomads.org/ Keep an eye on their website for an idea of what cycling through this nonsense is really like.); Rayhan the guy from Oz who is riding his BMW from India up to London and had his motorcycle airlifted by the Pakistani army over the flooded KKH…; The German who made his own frame and cycled it here – you get the idea… :)

The people who come here want to be here and so a different type of person is found. You do not go through the sheer hell that is the visa process without being determined and bloody minded.

Me.. ha! well I came here because Pakistan was closed.. That and I thought it would be good to cycle the Pamir as Malte will never get too.
So it leaves me here in Tashkent running round embassies, jumping on buses and relying on the help of the travellers here who all seem to have a better idea of what needs to be done (and who can also – give thanks – speak Russian…).

It appears touch wood to be working so far.

Today I was granted my 45 day visa for Tajikstan (75 dollars US) and a permit which means I get to cycle down a road where you can throw stones quite literally into Afghanistan..
Tomorrow I have to pay 110 dollars US to spend two days in a country that I do not even want to visit. I will let you work out which country that one is…
The day after I have to get on bended knee and request a 90 day visa off the Chinese. I think I will get 60 if I am lucky.

The news on getting through Tibet is that there is no news.. If anybody knows anything email me or leave a comment. Thanks.

Changing tack completely there is a sign as you enter Tashkent that reads ‘Privatisation brings prosperity’ To whom may I ask? To the people who live in the decrepit Soviet built flats that surround the city and line the entire country? Same game, different field. The rules it would appear never change.

Something else that made me stand still was walking through the meat market here in the main bazaar. Want to see and smell every single party of an animal hanging up in the forty degree heat? How about an old lady shouting for your attention and then motioning for you to buy the contents of a steel bucket that contained, the front hooves of a calf with about 5 inches of leg still attached, what looked like the entire intestinal tract flushed clean and the head balanced precariously on top with the eyes gazing listlessly up at me. I am by no means squeamish but the stench was beyond comprehension. I walked out to find a street lined with blacksmiths, knife sharpeners and a guy working sheet metal in the middle of the street using nothing but a hammer creating a cooling vent the old fashioned way. A joy to watch. A Trumph is impressive
and I still want one, but the old way, well the old way worked and still does. I might go back
tomorrow to see if I can bribe them to teach me a few things.

On the subject of making things, something that I am starting to see more and more as I head further into Central Asia is that everything appears to have come out of a metal press or a concrete former. The old socialist way of making things at the lowest possible cost which leads to the drab straight lines that make this environment so reminiscent of eastern European countries like Romania.
The artistic flourishes that can be seen in the small carvings that gild the houses of German villages are never to be found except on Mosques and much much older buildings that survived the onslaught of the bland.

Why bother I suppose? Weld some rebar, paint it blue and that will do.

I am frustrated beyond words by this mentality and I do not know why as it does not matter to me. I do not have to live here? In all likelihood I will not travel to a vast majority of these places ever again so why expend energy even thinking about such matters? But I walk past so much bad craftsmanship and I wince every time. some of it is just simple stupidity and crass money saving but it is not a question of money as people have always spent time decorating their possessions ever since we where nomadic as a people.
It is the view taken by planners,governments then passed down to the people who hold the tools that ‘that will do’, a lack of money, resources and education is not the excuse.
People have to live in these places, why for the love of god can they not spent just a little bit more effort and make them work. The environment I am starting to witness plays such a critical role in how people interact.

I should hasten to add I include my own city in this as well so the problem is universal.

On a brighter note I have been taught how to steal water, gas and electricity here. If anybody wants their meters bypassing upon my return you know how to get in touch :)

3 Responses to “Day 153”

  1. Sy says:

    enquires made to access and visa stuff, will post as soon as I know more. Simon

  2. Administrator says:

    ta la

  3. Sweet, that’s exactly what I was hunting for! You just spared me alot of digging around

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