Uzbekistan: Land of the golden smile, and the monobrow

The Uzbeks like their tea sweet. Very sweet. You see hunks of crystallised sugar for sale wherever you go. You see it in huge, tumbling piles in bazaars, or in deep filled boxes in shops.

It seems that by middle age most adults have a set of golden gnashers.  It’s not uncommon to see them on younger people too. I think partly it’s the sugar, but it’s also a status symbol.  When speaking, I found it hard not to be mesmerised by their golden mouth.  When you’re used to seeing white teeth, the gold makes the mouth seem very dark.

Uzbek_Lady_with_Gold_TeethMany of the women in Uzbekistan, particularly in Samarkand, wear wonderful, colourful dresses. Sequins and diamanté are stitched into the pattern, it shimmers in the sunlight, dazzling your eyes. I felt very dowdy and underdressed in my quick-dry t-shirt and walking sandals. Not at all feminine.

Some women sport a fetching monobrow. I asked our guide, Bek, about it. It’s Tajik fashion and apparently it’s drawn on, though on some it looked very authentic.

I even saw one on a two year old girl. I’m assuming it was drawn on…but you never know!

Turkmenistan: An unwelcome guest tries to join me on my first night bush camping

map-showing-route-of-odyssey-overland-istanbul-singapore-journey

The route: Istanbul to Singapore

The overland trip would take six months.  It starts in Turkey and finishes in Singapore.  One third of our time would be spent camping.

However, it’s hard to camp much after Kyrgyzstan, so little camping would be done after this country, just a few nights in Tibet. So really, we camp 50% of the time until we enter China.

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Turkmenistan: The Door to Hell at the Darvaza Crater

sunset-behind-odyssey-overland-truck-and-camping-chairs-karkoum-dessert-turkmenistanThe wonderful roads around Ashgabat soon ran out and we spent many, many hours driving on bumpy, dusty, pot-holed roads. It turned out to be like this for a number of weeks, all the way through Uzbekistan and beyond.  We weren’t to experience smooth tarmac for any great length  of time until we entered China.

Eight weeks previously I had undergone significant abdominal surgery.  I still had a gut full of internal stitches and the bumpy roads for weeks on end caused me significant discomfort. But there was little I could do about it, I was still happy to be there. Bumping along. Day after day, after day.  Continue reading