The Silk Road is Ridden with Potholes

Tashkent, Uzbekistan There was a chicken in the baggage compartment. Just as I had placed my backpack in the baggage hold underneath the bus I noticed it. There was a chicken silently standing there in the midst of all of the luggage, one leg tied down with a red...
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The Tell-Tale Signs of Dementia

Samarkand, Uzbekistan Since Russian is so commonly spoken and understood in all of these countries, its far more practical to learn a few words of the colonisers than of the indigenous. But the guidebook says that a smattering of Uzbek can be a useful bargaining aid....
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An Encounter with al-Qaeda

It seemed like any other town in Yemen. Nestled in a valley between spectacular 3000m jagged peaks, one main strip was packed full of every conceivable means of transport. There was a maelstrom of mini-buses with no doors, pickup trucks stuffed with toilets and sinks,...
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The Angry Man of Yazd

Kerman, Iran I am surrounded in all directions by hundreds of miles of desert wasteland, where scarcely a weed survives. But centuries old underground tunnels feed water to the oasis city of Yazd, which emerges like a mirage from nowhere. The tunnels, called qanats,...
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