Category: 2008

Delhi comes as a shock. It starts with the taxi ride. To avoid all trouble, I take a prepaid airport taxi and still the guy tries all the time to talk me into bringing me to a different hotel (he gets a commission for that). And he drives badly, I can’t imagine him going around Delhi for long without causing an accident. As soon as we are closer to the centre and I know where I am, I leave the taxi, I rather walk. Old Delhi is too much for me, it is all full of people, the poverty is pervasive, people live, eat and wash themselves on the street. On top of all that comes the weather, it is hot and sticky. I have reached my air-conditioned hotel room and I have trouble convincing myself to go outside. […]

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My second visit to Central Asia in 2008 started in Kazakhstan and brought me from there to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. As I needed to see something else besides Central Asia I finished the trip in India, my plan to visit Pakistan unfortunately failed. By the time I got to Uzbekistan I was short on time and treated it more like a transit country. I still could not withstand the temptation to spend a bit of time in beautiful Samarkand with its amazing Islamic monuments like the Registan ensemble, the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum or the graves at Shah-i-Zinda. […]

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The Pamir Highway is a dream journey for many travellers, a road that for hundreds of kilometres runs above 3,500m of altitude and reaches 4,655m at its highest point. The road has a military origin, in the 1930s the Soviet Union embarked on its construction to support its claims on the territory. The landscape is barren, winters are long, the sun bright and the wind strong. In fact, before the road there were no permanent settlements in the whole east of Tajikistan but the road needed workers, needed repairs, needed soldiers to guard it, and all these people needed food, needed housing and now a small number of people lives in an area that is immensely beautiful but honestly not well suited to human habitation. […]

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Due to a lack of public transport I arrive in Karakol on the back of a vegetable truck late in the night coming from Kazakhstan. In 2003, I arrived at night as well and I found it a rough place where I tried to get off the street as quickly as possible so I ask the driver to drop me at Vladimir’s hostel. He doesn’t know the town and after some fruitless search just tells me that this is the place I am looking for. I know it’s not and find myself alone at night in Karakol without having any clue where I am. I am scared. One house still has light and I just knock on the door. “Hello, I am a stupid foreigner and I have no clue where I am, could you please help me and tell me how to get to Vladimir’s place?” The hostel is not far. […]

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The city I am visiting is impressively big for just celebrating its 10th anniversary. Or at least this is what the Kazakh government wants you to believe. In fact, the place was founded 178 years ago under the name of Akmolinsk. Later it was known as Zelinograd and then renamed to Aqmola, a kazakhified version of Akmolinsk. As it was made the new capital city of Kazakhstan and the name changed to Astana it already had about 350,000 inhabitants. Since then, a new government quarter has been built and the population has nearly doubled […]

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In February 2008, a university excursion brought me to Kraków (as well as Berlin, Leipzig, Wrocław and Prague) to visit churches. We had spent a whole semester going through different ideas how a church service should be conducted and how the architecture of a church interplayed with the service. Stereotypically, there are remarkable differences between denominations. In traditional Catholicism the service was to be celebrated by the clergy and the parish was merely allowed to have a distant look at the whole proceeding. Still today, many churches have the altar far removed from the seating area and often several steps up. […]

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