Travel Letters

Khorezm: Castle of Mud

Khiva, Khorezm
June 6, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,    

Near my hotel, on a narrow stone street lies a pile of mud.  The neat, circular pile is no accident.  It is no children's play area.  What is it?

The mud pie is a construction site, or more properly, the preparation area.  Workmen shovel the mud, mixed with straw, into straw baskets that they carry away to a pulley and rope.  The mud is hoisted up to the top of a building.  They are making repairs to a wall using the ancient, time-tested method.

The same thick walls of mud protect the Ayaz-Qala, a group of fortresses dating back to the Sixth Century.  The impressive ruins of the qala sit up on a hillside and dominate the surrounding desert.

Uzbekistan: "Chimgan Mountains"

Chimgan Tashkent Uzbekistan

June 11, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

My friend Elias offered me a good piece of advice: “In the early morning, drive to the Chimgan area.” 

The Chimgan area is about an hour’s drive northeast of Tashkent . The mountains are not so high, but in the distance there are a few rugged snow-capped peaks. And in this eastern province of Uzbekistan , everything is green. Green grass, green trees, green farmlands, green mountain sides.

Bangkok: "Built for Comfort. Built for Speed. Always on Time"

The Emporium
Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok, Thailand
June 30, 2009

Dear Speed Lovers,

I am taking a break from writing my travel letters to visit The Emporium – a high-end shopping mall: Chanel, Hermes, Ungarao, etc, etc, etc.

The Emporium is sponsoring an exhibition of high-end automobiles, built for speed, and I daresay, comfort.

Next to each outrageous auto, an equally outrageous wrist watch is on display: Breitling and Bentley, and Blancpain and Porsche, etc.

Van, Tatvan, Bitlis: "Castles in the Sky"

Lake Van
Southeastern Anatolia
19 October 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The Lonely Planet "Turkey" is 732 pages thick. When I got to the last chapter on page 597, Southeastern Anatolia, I decided to begin my travels out there and work my way backwards in the book, traveling from east to west in southern Turkey. I flew from Istanbul to Van (1642 km…1020 mi).

Out here, Turkey's neighbors are Georgia and Armenia. West of Van lies Iran (only 100 km), and to the south, Iraq and Syria. Even though they were very close, and tempting, I decided not to visit any of these countries, at least not on this trip, since there is so much to see here.


Fethiye: "Drop Anchor"

Eastern Mediterranean

29 October 2009

My Dear Capitan David, Capitano Giovanni, καπετάνιος Πέτρος, and एडमिरल सिंह *

cc: Family and Friends

On your next cruise to the eastern Mediterranean, I recommend you explore Fethiye Bay (Fethiye Körfezi).  Drop anchor astride any number of idyllic islands: Yassicalar ( Flat Island ), Tersane Island, or Kizil Ada (Red Island ).  Swim and snorkel in the clear turquoise waters of Cennet Köyü ( Paradise Bay ) or Klopatra Hamami (Cleopatra’s Bath ). 

Give your cook a day off.  Sail into Fethiye Harbor and dock at the marina.  Sea-side and cliff-side restaurants serve delightful Turkish dishes featuring fresh fish and sea food. 

Steady your sea legs and wander around Fethiye (ancient Telmessos). The Tomb of Amyntas (350 BCE) is a Doric style Lycian temple cut into the rock wall of the cliff facing the sea.  Close to the harbor is a Roman theatre.

Is your crew busy scraping the algae off the hull?  Take a short ride into the mountains to the sorrowful site of Kayaköy (Karmylassos).

Rhodes: "€ 6.00"

November 3, 2009

Dear Family and Friends:

The Old Town of Rhodes is a pleasant place. The Old is now spiffy, with well-restored city walls, churches and mosques. There's the harbor of course where The Colossus once stood. And since most of the 1.7 million visitors -- mostly from Great Britain and Germany - had already departed, I shared the streets and plazas with just one small yet enthusiastic group of Israeli cruise passengers.