Uzbekistan: "What's in a name? Everything!"

Bangkok, Thailand

May 15th, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Have you ever wanted to go to a place just because you liked the sound of its name? Lake Titicaca, maybe How about The Transvaal? Timbuktu?

Timbuktu. Say it quietly, "Tim....buk....tooo." Doesn't that sound enchanting? Lake Titicaca? The Transvaal? Do we even know where these places are? Do we care? Don't the names themselves make you want to buy a ticket?

What about Sevastopol? Sounds so exotic.

Patagonia? Sounds so spacious.

I do have a long "To See" list.

Many years ago I did indulge my sonant fantasy. For no other reason than its sound, I wanted to see Sicily. I flew to Rome, rented a car, drove down the Amalfi Coast, and took the ferry across the Strait of Messina.

What a surprise! I had no idea that I would find Greek temples in Agrigento, and medieval churches in Cefalù. The homes of Archimedes, Pindar and Aeschylus are in Siracusa. There really is a town called Corleone. On the Aeolian Island of Vulcano, I took a bubbling-hot volcanic mud-bath followed by a boiling-salt-water-rinse in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

In Agrigento, the grilled swordfish on my luncheon plate swam that very morning in the Mediterranean Sea. At least that's what the waiter told me as he gazed beyond the window of the hilltop Ristorante Caprice. He nodded to the sea and proclaimed, "Pesce spada, la mattina, la!"

A few years ago, my acoustic-self flew south to "Mah Choo Pee Choo." Now admit it, doesn't that sound positively seductive? My friends in America, especially you Floridians, indulge yourselves and you will be seduced. Machu Picchu is a dream trip and Peru is closer than you think. ***

Tashkent was another place I always wanted to see. Tashkent? Where was it anyway? I didn't know and I didn't care. Tashkent sounds so ancient! So distant! So daring!

I did my research on Central Asia. Southwest of Tashkent lie Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, and Bukhara. West of Tashkent lie Urgench, Khiva and Nukus. In the far west are the cities of Karakalpakstan and the Aral Sea.

Well, my dear friends, I can't resist the sounds. The Great Silk Road is calling.

On Wednesday evening, May 20, on Uzbekistan Airways, I leave for Tashkent. I return to Bangkok on June 10. "Insha'Allah" I expect to find extraordinary sights. I expect to taste extra-ordinary food. I expect to hear extra-extra-ordinary sounds.

I wish I knew a little Russian.

Please don't worry. I phoned Tashkent on Skype.com and, in English, I made a hotel reservation. Within an hour, the manager sent me a confirmation by email. They will pick me up at the airport. They take Visa and MasterCard. They even have ATM's. It's a world that Alexander, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane could never dream of.

Genghis Khan! Now there's a sound that says it all.

до свидания

Dasvadanya,

Иван

Ivan

Travel with Jan to Uzbeksitan: http://www.travelwithjan.net/reginal/uzbekistan

*** Peru: http://www.travelwithjan.net/reginal/peru

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Envy

Jan,
I'm not usually an envious person but Tashkent is pushing my envelope of covetousness.
Janet
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