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!

Willing workers of Blitar, Java, Indonesia

Whilst on our walks around Blitar, we came across many people plying their trade.  Becak drivers, metal workers, fruit sellers, street food vendors, mechanics, bakers, fryers…the list is endless.

men-selling-feather-dusters-blitar-java-indonesia

Men selling feather dusters. I wonder if they use the dusters themselves. . .

Each and every one of them were interesting and happy to take the time to show us what they were doing.  Fascinating.  Continue reading

Want to feel like A Famous? Head to Blitar, Indonesia.

We are staying in Blitar in east Java for a week. We chose Blitar purely and simply because there is a Tugu Hotel here that we could afford to stay in for more than one night. We loved our experience of the Tugu Hotel  in Malang so much that we wanted to it to last longer…but at a more affordable price. So we have decamped to its ‘poorer cousin’ in Blitar to enjoy the hotel, its afternoon teas and, as it turns out, its super-good internet.

Entrance-to-the-Tugu-Hotel-blitar-indonesia

Entrance to the Tugu Hotel

Blitar isn’t on the tourist map as such, which makes you wonder why the hotel is here.  When we arrived, we doubled the number of guests staying here – although others arrived, and departed, over the coming days. Continue reading

Indonesia: Prambanan

We visited Prambanan in October 2014.  It is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and one of the largest in S.E. Asia. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Prambanan

Not a great photo, the sun was still too bright. And too damn hot. But you get the idea.

Built in the 9th Century, it was an impressive sight, though infuriatingly signposted. I read that few people (particularly backpackers) view the other temples in the grounds, and I’m not surprised. We tried, but it was like a treasure hunt, only with no clues. And in the searing heat, well, we gave up.  Continue reading