As the eyes of the world, the ones that aren’t on Novak Djokavic and Australia, are focused on Kazakhstan today we’d like to stand up for the Stans.
I don’t have to tell you that there are seven in Central Asia…
Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Some we know better than others.. I was schooled in a Pakistani area of Glasgow.
Afghanistan instantly conjures up war but boasts history and culture galore and Kazakhstan is more than the land of Borat.
And some know the Stans better than others.
Such as my cousin’s husband, a health administration professional who is only the Aga Khan’s go-to-man when it comes to managing hospitals in the Stans.
And so when the news feeds told us Kazakhstan was the size of Western Europe I was able to impress my circle.
And maybe to have done your homework,. although Joanna Lumley’s The Silk Road is the sort of assignment I would have loved at school.
So if you’re a fan of turquoise domes, yurts and the Silk Road read on…
Wendy is offering a 12-day tour of Uzbekistan from £2,885pp Classic Group Tour which is a saving of £405pp going out on either Friday, April 5th.
Uzbeki the uzbest
Our old friends at Turkish Airlines fly to Tashkent from London (from £452), Birmingham (£496), Manchester (£524) and Edinburgh (£511).
So what makes Uzbeki the uzbest?
You’ll kick off in Tashkent, where you’ll remember from Joanna’s show the magnificent Metro station.
And, yes, it knocks the Tube and Glasgow’s Magic Roundabout into the ha’penny place.
Above ground you will marvel at the Khast Imam Complex, home to the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre.
And the Chorsu Bazaar, a vast open-air market found in the heart of the old city.
Khiva is one of the country’s oldest cities so if you’re into old monuments (Mrs M clearly is) and historical Islamic universities you’ll get your money’s worth.
Joanna sought out a man who’s been making sheepskin chugirma hats for centuries, if you’re looking for a souvenir to go along with your fridge magnet.
Talking of which, you’ll want to earn your bread when you’re there…
So why not seek out a traditional Uzbek bread-making class.
Alexander… it’s great
Like Joanna, you’ll get to check out Samarkand.
It’s only one of the world’s oldest still-inhabited cities, and its centrepiece is Registan square.
And it has the recommendation of none less than Alexander the Great.
Samarkand’s architect Tamerlane is buried in the Gur Emir Mausoleum which you’ll tick off your list.
As well as the necropolis Shah-i-Zinda and the magnificent Bibi-Khanym Mosque, hailed as one of the most impressive in the Islamic world.
Any trip to a Muslim country wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a Bazaar.
And having taken in the Grand Bazaar with Turkish Airlines in Istanbul, I’d be onto you if you missed out.
Try the bustling Siyob Bazaar in Samarkand… a trip to a traditional factory to learn about silk paper making.
And the wines that have been enjoyed here for centuries.
All the more reason to Stand up for the Stans.
Although after all that shopping and drinking you’ll need to lie down.