The Silk Road or You Can’t Get There From Here


No life would be complete without dying. Wait, I mean, no life would be complete without a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world – the cemetery. No, no. Let me start again. I had too much spicy food for dinner. My wife likes it but you can see what kind of effect it has on me.

            Have you ever considered a trip along the Silk Road? I once bought three silk ties for ten dollars in Manhattan and the idea has been with me ever since. So, off we went.

            A good place to start is Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The reason it’s a good place to start is, it’s just north of the Iranian border. No sense starting an international incident just because you want to see some sights. Our first stop is Merv, once the “Queen of Cities.” Not to be confused with Merv, once the “Queen of Talk Show Hosts.” Today, Merv is a site where pink hollyhocks grow among the ruins left when Genghis Khan and his Mongol army swept across Asia. It’s pretty safe to say that when they swept through they crushed those hollyhocks into a disgusting pink mush. It’s much better to see them now. The hollyhocks, I mean, not the Mongol army.

            Next is Bukhara, Uzbekistan. They say Genghis Khan was so impressed by the city’s 155-foot minaret that he left the city intact and only slaughtered the people. Bukhara is considered Central Asia’s best-preserved medieval city. The people, not so much. And they’re still fairly peeved about the whole thing. Thanks a lot, Genghis.

            Continuing, you soon see the rise of the snowcapped mountains of Kyrgyzstan, or “The Place of Only One Vowel.” The mountains rise around 4:30 so try to get up early yourself. It’s quite a sight. On the flower-dotted hillsides you can watch the nomads in felt hats (don’t touch the hats, trust me), pitching their yurts. If you have never seen a yurt pitched, you’re in for a special time. The yurt pitcher we saw had a wicked curve and the other nomads had quite a hard time hitting it out of there. They’re good at pitching pennies too. I lost sixty-five cents which was all the change I had on me.

            If you can get out of there with any money left, you’ll soon come to Lake Chatyr Kul – reputedly the coldest place in Kyrgyzstan. When we walked into a small café there and a Kyrgyzstani woman who I used to date saw me with my wife, believe me that became the coldest place in Kyrgyzstan.

            Finally, after drinking rose-flavored tea in Xi’an, China (it takes a long time to steep a rose, I can tell you), we made it back home with a lot of stories to tell, pictures to show and my wife had lots of new exotic spices to try. By the way, I’m writing this on my deathbed. The doctors say I’ll pull through though. Happy travels!