Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Travelling across Uzbekistan I managed to stop off at some of the major cities that made up the silk road, Khiva and Samarkand being the most well preserved. Despite an agressive Soviet programme of limting the influence of Islam in this area, many of the Medrasses from the 14th century remain intact and, owing to the general lack of tourists, very peaceful places. 

I took the train across the generally unremarkable landscape to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, a major city complete with a monumental subway system and many exotic experiments in Soviet government architecture. 

Across the border is Kazakhstan, used by the USSR as proving grounds for various experiments; the Baikonur Cosmodrome - now the busiest space port in the world, nuclear test zones near Semey and vast irrigations projects that converted the grasslands into a desert of soil and dust storms. Surrounded by mountains is the city of Almaty, the most European city I've been to since Tbilisi. Also home to several extravagant communist constructions, it is from here that I took the 2 night train to Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, where I can rest before I head out to Beijing on the Trans-Mongolian Express

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