Central Asia 2000



This adventure began in LA and went on to Paris, Moscow, Baku, and Ashkabad. From there it was by bus to Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Bishkek, and Almaty


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The Bottom Line

For me, this was the prime example why I prefer to travel alone, or maybe with one friend, at most. This threw me in with a largely politically ultra-liberal left wing group, led by the amusing radio show host, Ted Rall. All in all, nice individuals I generally enjoyed being around, but some tended to argue with me about their views, at times angrily, and I even was yelled at by the wife of one of them, for spontaneously giving an icecream cone to a small and very poor child in one of the border regions. Whenever possible, I moved about by myself. I had, before this trip, and ever since, traveled solo, or with one friendly companion, and made it through 70 countries without any confrontations like that. On top of that, in Tashkent, the group wanted to go out to eat and dance in a fancy restaurant . I ended up very sick. Alone, I don't do that. I eat my way and have stayed healthy ever since.

Specifically, an extra week would have been a life saver. In the end, I believe, there either was a debate or a discussion which resulted in some of the group kicking back and taking it easy at Karakol, a great resort near Lake Yssikul while the rest pursued a more rigorous schedule. Rather than a completely linear adventure, several alternative stops and routes, ultimately rejoining the group, might have been very beneficial. Not everyone feels equally heroic, or healthy, all of the time. We live, we learn. The next trip will always be packed and planned a little smarter then the last one. The bottom line is that it was a superbly planned, albeit rushed journey, that got us to many places we would have had some difficulty getting to on our own. I will always be in Ted Rall's debt for that. I probably would have stayed at Karakol myself as well - in fact, had it been a planned-in alternative, that might have been the very thing that could have kept me on the trip for the full duration. I had been offered to take groups to distant places myself, but refused to do that. This journey gave me all the reasons not to, and definitely increased my respect for Ted's ability to organize and manage this adventure. I am not done yet, and in 2011 I visited two more 'stans', Afghanistan and Tajikistan, solo, of course.


Milos, a native Russian speaker, his son, Johnny, & me at Charles De Gaulle Airport in deep conversation


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