Curiously the countries I crammed into this visit would continually remind me of the man I left behind, hubbie Stan, but I assure you once I was on my way I gave neither him nor his name another thought. (Not really true- I missed him like mad!)
This was a part of the world solo travellers had long found it almost impossible to enter; but where now, with Gorbachev in power and the Berlin Wall a heap of bricks, I rather hoped restrictions might be eased.
As I soon found out though, Russian consulates in various countries including Australia were still going by the old book. Sure I could get a visa, if I was an invited student, a relative, or part of a tour group and even then I had to detail where I was going, who I was staying with and on which particular day or night.
Not the 'will of the wisp' trip I had in mind. Clearly I would have to approach this project with a little bit of cunning. What was needed was a back door approach.
A sympathetic travel agent in Singapore happened to be on the same wave length and before long a little bit of bribe money exchanged hands.
Within two days I had an Aeroflot plane ticket and a very dodgy visa promising entry to Tashkent.
|Three ladies from Bukhara|
|Wonderfully fierce looking but really very friendly|
|If I was alone with a camera I must be KGB|
|A chance meeting with a girl from Alaska|
Wandering through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan gave me an insight into Russia's influence on these two vastly different countries, and its continued presence despite the changes to the old U.S.S.R.
Particularly the 'catch 22' situation many of the modern young women of these countries suddenly found themselves in.
Looking back now several years later I wonder how these countries are managing, have they at long last shrugged off the mantle of Communist Russia, have they slipped back into the days of the veil and shador of Islam, thrusting their women back into a role of suppression.
Have they allied themselves with the troubled countries to their south, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq.