Letter from the Silk Road
Letter from the Silk Road is an occasional personal blog about tourism on the Silk Road, the making of Caravanistan and other assorted musings that did not fit elsewhere.
We all agree the future is unknowable, but really, we can’t help ourselves. It used to be oracles and astrologers, now it’s artificial intelligence and economic forecasts. All with a roughly equal chance of success. So here is my take. Let’s start with what we know. Coronavirus in Central Asia Ever since the end of […]
Someone recently e-mailed me asking what we have been up to in the past year. And what were my predictions for travel in Central Asia in 2021, and beyond? I will give my predictions in another blog post next week. This week, let me tell you what we did in 2020. Perhaps it is of […]
Wild camping can be annoying, but if you spend a lot of time slowly traveling through Europe on foot, bike, horse or in a kayak, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid. There should be alternatives. And there are. Because the coronavirus limited my travel options to Central Asia, I decided to cycle around Europe in the […]
In December 2018, we ran a small survey on Caravanistan asking visitors about their travel plans. We got 390 answers. This is not a scientific study: the Caravanistan audience is somewhat skewed towards the long-term adventurous traveler, and the website is focused on the 5 post-Soviet stans. Nonetheless, we’d say it gives a good overview […]
After the July 29 attack on foreign cyclists in the district of Danghara, a number of people have written to me, asking if it is still safe to travel to Tajikistan. As the editor of Caravanistan, a site I am sure the murdered cyclists were using to plan their trip, it feels like I should […]
Inspired by Binyavanga Wainana – How to Write about Africa, I had always seen this article (I wrote it in 2017) as a tongue-in-cheek look at the orientalist templates that centuries of colonialism have imprinted in the brains of westerners like myself, and the black-and-white portrayal some less-careful observers tend to go for. There’s been […]
You are what you eat. Nowhere could this maxim be more obvious than in the Pamirs. A barren land of rock and rubble, brought to life only through the hands of its people. But what does it mean that nowadays, in the Tajik Pamirs, foreign foods such as borscht, plov and lagman dominate the dishes […]
In the atmosperic, tiny village of Kish, near the historic town of Sheki, an unusual monument stands across from the quiet medieval Albanian church that dominates the central hill of the village. It’s a statue of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian explorer who famously sailed across the Pacific in a simple self-made reed boat.
What’s the most useful language to travel the Silk Road and Central Asia? Russian, Turkish or Persian?