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  • After my two day Google conference, a short night of sleep in a smoking room at the luxurious Hilton Gatwick where neither the tv nor the radio worked ( was too hysterically tired to complain) and an 18hr journey I eventually packed in a mighty 1h35mins of sleep in Tashkent before heading off to Samarkand. The Afrosiab super fast train was really deluxe & I quickly made a new friend also en route to the conference - Farida from Almaty. Was good to start practising my Russian though just a few mins of peace would not have gone amiss. Imagine my delight when I arrived at the conference in Samarkand to find ihad totake to the VIP podium immediately in front of 500 people. Once I'd sleepily mumbled through my paper things did look up. I've had two huge meals with amazing fresh salads & herbs and piles oh horrendously fatty meat. Been to a super-kitsch musical performance with amusing numbers such as the bringing of Islam to the region - all to a catchy disco beat & many a young maiden's part being danced by women of my age & size. Amusing side features include being transported everywhere in a VIP bus preceded by a police car with sirens blazing. Dinner was accompanied by a wonderful traditional band and many of my fellow lbrarians from the remotest regions all danced enchantingly between courses. And now you have probably guessed... BEDRead more

  • After the first session on Friday am the organisers took pity on we useless non- Uzbek speakers and decided the interpretation was inadequate so the cause of international library solidarity would be better served by taking us on a sightseeing tour. Despite our protests they insisted😀 So we unexpectedly went straight to the most iconic of sights- the Registan. Although this was my third visit, the exquisite decoration on the three huge & imposing medressas facing into the square will always make one gasp. Another thing which adds to the delight of it all is the fact that loads of local people go there for a grand day out in splendid traditionally influenced outfits which adds an extra dimension of wonder to it all. Overcome by the whole experience I bought an antique suzane (embroidered throw type of thing) which in hindsight I am not sure I like 😟from a shop in one of the old cells where the medressa students used to live. After lunch of tasty but v greasy plov tempered by the usual wonderful fresh salads, super-sized sweetly crisp radishes & piles of unusual herbs in a local wedding palace turned conference catering venue where we ate
    every meal ( it got a bit tedious) we then went off to the splendid Bibi Khanum mosque - she was Timur (Tamerlaine's) Chinese wife. Legend has it that the architect fell madly in love with her and refused to complete the work unless she let him kiss her & as a result Timur insisted women should be veiled. Probably a load of twaddle though as other people told us veiling was not traditional in Samarkand for most of its history. Next aided by well-seasoned bargainers Farida from NL Kazakhstan & Amina from NL Azerbaijan we raided the bazaar & came away with some fine bargains. We then thought we'd have 2 hours to rest but as was always the way on this trip plans changed & we were whisked back to the very formal conference closure and many many photo opps. So just enough time to dash back & throw on our finery for the bankiet...
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  • The train did a good job, don't expect luxury as in Europe, and you will be fine ;-). It was a 50 hour tour at the end. I got out 3 times for 5 minutes. The train stopt for like 10 times but some were at border controls which take an hour or 2 if you are not lucky. I am glad I am here and that this was the longest part of my trip to beijing. Actually since my record of 28 hours in a VW caddy this is my new record of non stop training and being in a small space for 50 hours haha. Well it was an adventure so just do it if you have the change ;-)Read more

  • Yesterday it started great here. When you wrestle through baggage check, which is harder than wrestling Ties Kool ;-), I had to manouvre through taxi drivers and finally accidentaly arrived at a Bus Transferium :). No one spoke the language but this 300 look a like busdriver recognised the Hotel. Great with no Sums (local currency) a gave him 10 dollar. After 2 stops he gave it back and explained with a calculator that it was only 3000 sum = half a dollar. Yeah free ride, I slept great after this. Breakfast was good but with a few people in a to big area. It's representing the whole country I think. It's build wide and open and with big buildings but not high. Only my hotel with 17 floors and twice as tall as all the rest. Walked through Tashkent and had a real nice day, playing my music and found a good cosy coffee restaurant thing. What they say is true, they have a lot off beautifull women here. Only a few match my taste but none could ever seduce me ;-). The language is one thing that's in the way but the characters are also a bit more closed than others. Maybe because of our open mind and curiosity :).Read more

  • Doing that seems easy but it's not only doing what you like, be safe or live healthy. Some ways of taking care of myself I don't even like doing. Nobody will deny that they don't look for the best for themselves, but is it also the best? Well I had time to think about this and off course I do what I like to do, but I also do what feels less good, thinking of a goal that should be good.
    People asked me, why are you traveling alone, well I didn't have a clear answer because all reasons I had, are not the actual reasons when I think about it. Not someone who could join? I couldn't wait much longer? For so long with 1 person could get ugly? It's more adventurous? Nobody to change the plan? Well actually none are not true, but I think that this journey is about finding myself and improving myself. Maybe it wasn't really neccesary but now I am in the middle of it, It's so perfectly clear that I really am finding what I was looking for... seeing the value of things that I have at home. Exploring and curiosity are things I really like doing. But what I love doing is not about taking care of myself but about being with others and the ones I love and rather taking care of them then myself.
    Besides all the adventures I have this is what I mostly value, and am looking forward to being able to express this :). Lots of love, from the train to Almaty, Kazachstan.
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  • It is not easy to do it but with the usual luck I made it to Samarkand one city that was advised by several locals. I woke up at 7 to hurry to the Railway station, I got there at 7:30 and the last trains to Samarkand were leaving at 8:00 and 8:30. I was standing in a random qeue because I couldn't read the signs. The loket closed 2 person before me grrrrr, then the next loket. People pushing and trying to get in front of you, really normal here, not nice. Well I can do that, I had no luggage, but then I had to order tickets, but not in English, so there was this fellow that helped me out and actually needed the same train and the same back. Well there it started, the train of 8:00 was already gone of course. And I sat next to this guy and his family. He asked if I would join his family for the day tour. In this country??? Definetly yes, thrustworthy people, Moslim (no jokes here ;-) ) and a family. This guy was called Borat and he had 2 sisters :) hahaha the fun begins. But also a big cultural lesson ;-). A small example: if you pore in a drink and you have these bubbles in the center, pick them with your finger and put them in your pocket. They may burst but it's meant for good fortune ;-)Read more

  • Tragically I don't have any decent photos of this fine occasion to share yet but hope I manage to give a flavour. As ladies here like nothing more than glamour and sparkle, even for day wear, you can imagine that the grand party to end the conference was quite something. Rather disappointingly, it was held at the same place we ate everyday so more good but repetitive salads & greasy soup with lumps of mutton fat ( a great speciality of the region) was the order of the day. This time it was outside though so we set off anxiously with jackets etc as though hot in the daytime there was a nip in the air of an evening - due I guess to the proximity of snowy mountains. Oddly ( and v differently from previous visits) alcohol was barely to be seen so great was the joy of me & my 2 rather dour colleagues from NL Latvia when Farida produced a bottle of Kazakh cognac which the director of NL Uzbekistan then felt obliged to second with an Uzbek bottle- if ever faced with the dilemma of which to choose, go for Kazakh 😊As is the way in these parts it is rude to sip at your drink as & when - all drinking is done communally after elaborate toasts. Luckily I was sitting next to Irakli from Georgia & as Georgians are known for their love of toasts thAt can go on for 15 mins, I didn't have to rise to the occasion myself. There was fantastic live music all night long starting off with local trad more classical stuff followed by 4-5 different singers who did a number from the country of each esteemed foreign guest except me!! I didn't complain however as the evening grew more & more riotous - despite the dearth of booze. Our Uzbek colleagues were very keen to get us on the dance floori & my N African moves stood me in good stead. Higlights were the usually morose Czechs boogying on down to various cheesy Russian hits from the 80s, but best of all the usually solemn director of the NL South Korea's very ideosyncratic interpretation of gangnam style. Once seen, never forgotten😂 How we laughed at the idea we might be chilly as we were spun round the dance floor by glittering gold- teethed ladies & gents alike! It did leave me with a wonderful sense of how that Soviet legacy of Russian language as a lingua franca across such a huge swathe of Europe & Asia is a wonderful thing & it feels a bit sad that for new generations it will be replaced by English...Read more

  • הרגע ביקשו ממני להעביר את הכפכפים בעמדת בידוק. וואט דה הל?

    מה שגם מפתיע כאן זה שלמרות שאנחנו באוזבקיסטן, חצי מהאנשים כאן קוריאנים, ואפילו ברדיו שומעים גנגנאם סטייל.

    הייפ הייפ הייפ