•August 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Due to a series of travel arrangement snafus, the unexpected last stop in the Saramistbixian Silk Road tour was a 20 hour lay-over in Beijing (and the name of this blog should probably be changed to “saramistbiJING” as a result). Even after staying awake for more than 30 hours straight (ended up round 48, mebbe? and without a shower — we smelled GOOD!) all the drama and fatigue did nothing to dampen the thrill of being in China’s exploding capital city. When we arrived, we didn’t know it would mark the end of the journey; but we were determined to maximize our stay there, and we did. The Today Show’s Matt Lauer has nothing on the thrive team when it comes to getting maximum tourism highlights into a single day…

One of the team’s friends in Beijing was gracious enough to meet us when we got into Beijing, at 2 am, and allow us to store our luggage at his apartment. James, a native of the OC, had been in China for more than a year, and was a project manager on a construction site, an eyewitness to the business and construction boom. He took us to a Chinese restaurant (go figure) in the clubbing district where we wolfed down delicious noodles and shaved ice (mountainous dessert concoctions slathered with different kinds of beans — wish I had a photo, but at that point, was so exhausted all I could do was handle chopsticks.)

We took cabs to see the dawn flag-raising at Tianeman Square. A huge crowd gathered; music played; and in two minutes the flag was up and it was over. Anti-climactic, really — but amazing to be where we were. There is so much construction and activity going on in this crowded, crazy metropolis — almost thought that not just the flag would be raised, but that the cranes over the Forbidden City would be replaced with glass skyscraper concoctions by sunrise. And, due to preparations for the Olympics and concerns about smog, they’re seeding the clouds most nights — so it rains, and clears the streets. The morning we were there, there was a light grey fog, and the streets were slick…and by sunrise, the streets were jammed with activity, with people walking their dogs (and their birds, in cages swinging wildly from side to side) and doing morning exercises. Busy, busy place. Continue reading ‘Beijing’

Kyrgzy drive-by

•August 3, 2008 • 1 Comment

While traveling through those corduroy hills of the Kyrgzy Republic, I had the chance to sample some mare’s milk — fermented, smoky, not-pasteurized or homogenized, a little bit alcoholic. It’s sold at roadside stands, like this: Continue reading ‘Kyrgzy drive-by’

Back in Naryn

•July 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Spent most of the time in Naryn walking around the city, looking at the sights, like the statue to the “new generation” —

visiting with that new generation:

Continue reading ‘Back in Naryn’

Tash Rabat

•July 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Doesn’t it sound oh-so-mysterious? Tash Rabat is the site of a 15th century (could be 5th — time does fly, and there’s no question but that these kinds of places have been around 4-evah) caravanserai; Continue reading ‘Tash Rabat’

Road to Naryn

•July 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

I don’t have a lot to say about rest stops on the highway on the road to Naryn except for this: if you’re a vegetarian who eats fish you might be okay, but you still might want to pack a lunch, and maybe bring sleeping pills or something — the good drivers are the kind that scare the living bejesus out of you, and make you think that maybe teaching your kids to drive wasn’t so bad, after all. I left fingerholds in the molded plastic in the back, and was really, really glad I was wearing my St. Christopher’s medal, and had a big blue glass evil eye that I got in Turkey, and my Arabic necklace, too. Have no fear, tho’ — if you forget the pills, you’ll always be able to buy vodka on the road. Lots of different kinds in the middle row, below. Somehow, that’s comforting, no?

In Bishkek

•July 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

Despite the sunny-appearing picture below, Bishkek is dreary, dark, and overgrown – not much in the way of municipal services. And it gets very very hot. This is the main government square on a Tuesday afternoon — their version of the DC mall…

The city is green this time of year; and there is potential romance in those streets — just needs some weeding and patching, and a lot of cleaning up, mostly of bad oppressive Soviet block architecture. Maybe clean-up isn’t the right word…perhaps the word is “demolition”. There is little that’s welcoming or warm about most of the architecture in the city — except for all the green growing things coming up through all the cracks, perhaps sending the subliminal message that life persists and continues.

Continue reading ‘In Bishkek’

Bishkek’s National Fine Arts Museum

•July 28, 2008 • 2 Comments

So, the photos on my fritzin’ memory card were largely recovered; not all, but at least some. Here are some photos of paintings and other works at the National Fine Arts Gallery in Bishkek; there wasn’t a lot there, not many people go (it costs 20 som for Kyrgyz (about $0.35), 100 som (I think) for foreigners- but some of what was there, was amazing. The old ladies who manned the various galleries refused to allow me to take their photos; I wasn’t allowed to take any, actually – but there wasn’t anyone there, and I didn’t see the signs until halfway thru…so I did the infamous “cough-n-click” to bring to you a falconer, a schoolgirl, some agricultural workers and a Kyrgyzstan mom-and-me morning.

Continue reading ‘Bishkek’s National Fine Arts Museum’