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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Photos at last!

Kokand, Uzbekistan -- Young boys outside a madressa, all seemingly quite curious about my camera. Kokand lies in the Fergana valley and is probably the second most important religious city in Uzbekistan after Bukhara; the banned Uzbek Islamist party has most of its support here.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan -- Kids slide down the roof a tomb in Bukhara. Uzbeks still seem to have quite a few children despite the continuing economic difficulties.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan -- A mosque lit up just after sunset. Bukhara has a sizeable old town virtually covered in old mosques and madressas. While Khiva rivals it in overall effect on the visitor, the fact that so many people live in Bukhara makes it a really interesting and spectacular place to visit.

Kabul, Afghanistan -- Alden and I at Camp Julien, the main Canadian camp in Kabul.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan -- The horribly ugly Palace of the Friendship of Peoples in Tashkent. It's a concert hall of sorts with a massive paved area in front. A monument stands there to a Soviet-era hero who supposedly took in 14 orphans during WWII. Of particular interest to me was that a spire in fron of this building still had all the crests of the old Soviet republics and the one of the Soviet Union. Generally speaking, Uzbekistan has made a clear break with the past and quickly got rid of all the Soviet-era monuments after it gained its independence while the other Central Asian republics have been slower to make changes and have not had the same enthusiasm for toppling Lenin.

On the road to Andijan, Uzbekistan --A common sight in Central Asia is roadside melon stands. Turkmenistan even has a national holiday to celebrate the melon (But Turkmenistan does a lot of strange things).

Tashkent, Uzbekistan -- A massive monument of a soldier with a rifle stands in front of the Uzbek military museum in the suburbs of Tashkent.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan -- The spectacular Registan in Samarkand. Three madressas face a central courtyard. Samarkand's buildings are massive and quie ornate but are set in an otherwise modern Soviet city making a visit there quite different from one to Khiva or Bukhara. Of course while Samarkand lacks the overall effect of either Khiva or Bukhara, the individual buildings of interest in Samarkand are across the board far more impressive than anything in the rest of the country.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan -- Like all self-respecting big former Soviet cities, Tashkent has a space needle. Here's me in front of it. A trip to the observation post half-way up to look though the filthy windows costs $0.60.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan -- A statue of Timurlane in central Tashkent where a bust of Marx stood before independence.

Margilan, Uzbekistan -- A woman selling typical Central Asian bread which is great frsh out of the oven but goes stale quite quickly. Sellers usually keep their stock in baby carriages and are re-stocked through the day by young guys on bicycles with giant trays over the handlebars. As soon as you cross the mountains in Afghanistan the type of bread changes from the really flat kind seen in Iran and similar to that in Pakistan and even India to this kind which looks a little like pizza crusts. Some locals will eat meals with the main dish just served in the middle of the bread which acts as a sort of plate.