The dude of dough

8257375361_b3e80a05f3_z

One big cauldron of goodness

The alleyways of Kashgar’s Sunday bazaar stretch and twist and steam like so much, well, kneaded dough. And, however hot the work, this baker keeps cool as a cucumber throughout.

Here he spins and knots his savoury dough into big, thick braids, ready for boiling up bagels – a chewy, savoury variety you’ll find all over Xinjiang. And that’s not the only carb-a-licious snack available, either – down every high street, and even every alley, you’ll find options for bagels, seed-speckled naan breads, gooey pork-filled dumplings, or even deep-fried straw bread coiled into delicious wreaths. You can take your pick of bready delights, a pot of strong, black tea, and lunch is utterly sorted.

It is a veritable yum-a-thon of tasty proportions.

 

Sale now on!

8258546922_e196c05940_b

In Osh, Kyrgyzstan, this gentleman is pleased to learn of the book’s new low price

In celebration of nothing in particular, I’ve decided to drop the price of A Eurasian Diary on the UK Amazon shop! In fact, I’m more than simply “dropping” the price. I’m slashing it. Mashing it. Liquefying it. I am literally microwaving the price.

That’s something to smile about!

Download now for one pound and fifty-four pence (after tax!)

What have people said about A Eurasian Diary?

“Funny and observant!” – Amazon reviewer

“Both informative and entertaining, and makes for easy, happy, hilarious reading. Superb!” – my mother

The list goes on! Take a peek now, or share with Silk-Road-loving loved ones.

Tea Time

Tea Time

A small teahouse hangs over the banks of the Ak-Buura River in Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan. These fine gents were gathered here on a typically brisk November morning, sipping hot black tea, and all decked out in their white felt Kyrgyz caps – except, of course, for Michael Jackson in the background, as his friends liked to refer to him.

Crossing the threshold

Crossing the threshold

(Sorry, posted this originally without a photo! Kind of defeated the purpose…)

The entrance to the Ulugh Beg Medressah in Samarkand is not really an entrance at all – it’s a monument in its own right. This enormous portal seems to suggest that simply approaching this ancient centre of faith and science will fill you with wonder. Just wait till you get inside.

Pumpkin Party

Pumpkin Party

A happy Hallowe’en Eve to all (or is that a “Hallowe’en’en”?)

More than any other holiday in the year, this is the one that reminds me most of being a kid. Sticking your hand into the cold, stinking innards of a freshly-opened pumpkin. Fake-blood caking on your skin. Toffee that required a half hour’s chewing. Being a kid was a bloody nightmare.

These pumpkins were photographed one year ago now, virtually to the day. This bazaar in Fergana, Uzbekistan, was piled high with dried figs and apricots, naan breads and lambs’ legs, and squashes of every shape and size.

This selection have had the rinds sliced open to expose the bright fruit inside – they’re fresh, orange, and just about ready to go – all they really need is to be hollowed and carved into gruesome faces, obviously.

Otherworldly Dali

Otherworldly Dali

O.K., so there are no melting clocks or elephants on stilts, but we aren’t talking that kind of Dali.

The beautiful town of Dali, Yunnan Province, seemed designed for contemplation – a series of brooks, originating in the nearby Cang Shan mountains, meander through the town’s purpose-built, terraced creek beds, burbling over stones, arriving at ornamental ponds, and then flowing onward to the town’s centre.

There, you find a satisfying hybrid of symmetry and chance – four interconnecting square ponds flank the four corners of a large, central gateway, all of it anchoring a larger square of pathways and pavilions, everything equidistant and precise.

Between the carefully balanced features, large trees and water plants sprout haphazardly, like an organic tide on the cusp of rending the design back to rubble. This was nature wrapped around reason.

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan isn’t in Eurasia, not is it particularly famous for its towering mountains. So, what on earth is this picture all about?

The source of the Saskatchewan River in the Canadian Rockies is simply too gorgeous a spot to keep off this little blog – however badly it messes up my tagging system.

We traipsed from Jasper to Banff last month in a memorable trip home that included all manner of wildlife – woodpeckers, picas, chubby old chipmunks, elks, one black bear, and mosquitoes that could actually lift me into the sky.

We returned to London invigorated by the space and the scenery, and happy memories of stepping stones – for all the wobbled crossings we made, nary a toe was misplaced!