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Old 04-03-2013, 06:38 AM   #24331
orlok
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BT. I think they take telecommunications security and privacy seriously, especially for programming staff.
So if your maternal Grandfather once opened someone else's letter, you don't get the job....

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What is BT?


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British Telecom. I forgot Paul had already mentioned that.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:01 AM   #24332
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British Telecom. I forgot Paul had already mentioned that.
Is all of the UK served by a single provider or are there several that you can choose from?


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Old 04-03-2013, 07:16 AM   #24333
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Is all of the UK served by a single provider or are there several that you can choose from?
It used to be the sole provider, but there are now many, although BT is still the largest by far. The telecomms market in the UK has been progressively opened to competition since 1981 or so.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:34 AM   #24334
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It used to be the sole provider, but there are now many, although BT is still the largest by far. The telecomms market in the UK has been progressively opened to competition since 1981 or so.
Los Angeles is served by a whole slew of different telephone companies. One of the results is that often you may be calling someone on the next block but because the call goes through two different providers, it is billed as a long distance call. At the same time, you might be phoning someone clear across town and it's charge as a local call. Does this happen in the UK?


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Old 04-03-2013, 09:06 AM   #24335
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(Excerpts of my travel journal....excuse the grammar and the length please, as I have little wifi/time to be able to check/shorten it)

(31-03 Smarkand-Tasjkent-Ferghana)
A decent breakfast; omelette and green tea. At the station in Samarkand the usual luggage scan and passportcheck. I'm on the slow train to Tasjkent, the Sharq or Eastern. It seems to be a fairly old train(with an incredible dirty toilet),and is packed with Uzbek men with white embroidered black caps and families.The traditional Uzbek have their teeth gold- capped.It is nice and warm. Attendants sell tea, coffee and cart wheels of Samarkand bread. A television set, hanging from the ceiling, blears soap series to a fascinated audience. After almost 4 hours arrival in Tasjkent.

On the way to Ferghana by car are several police checks; some military, near Tajikistan. The road through the mountains is very bad,potholes and worse, not helped by the heavy rainfall last night. Deserted houses along the road and lone vendors in this rain, with coca cola and bundles of orange/ red wild tulips. At a small mosque along the road our driver prays.*
That is another one of the five pillars, the fundament of the Islam. The others: giving alms,once in a lifetime a visit to Mekka( hadji), testimony of faith to Allah and the prophet Mohammed, keeping the Ramadan( 1x year a month's abstinence, by daylight, of food/ drink/sex),

The Kamchikpass at 2267 meter is to be crossed today. And a fine ride through a beautiful harsh landscape with swift streaming rivers, some snow and the occasional fruit tree (nut?). Low clouds, like smoke, near the ragged mountaintops. Photographing is not permitted everywhere: military affairs. I see spindly legged cows around; never knew they could climb.
It is 8 o'clock in the evening when we reach the hotel in Ferghana. No lunch,no dinner, as there is no food in the hotel and all is closed; so I take a beer, half an apple and some bread.

(1-04 by car from Ferghana to Sary Tash)
A good breakfast,2 boiled eggs and green tea. First stop after Ferghana is Margilan; the ancient stop on the Silk Road in the 9th century (although legend has it that Alexander the Great names it) and, from ancient,a center of the silkproduction. The Chinese traded for these silks on the Silk Road.

Several silkfactories in Margilan roll out millions of metres of colourful silks; also the bright colors for the traditional long dresses of the Uzbek women. In 1983 a group of Margilani silk workers begin their own workshop, based on traditional methods.
I visit such a workshop. It all begins with the cocoons, obviously. Individual households feed silkworms with fresh mulberry leaves. They bring it to be harvested; by boiling the cocoons, from june till the end of december.

The work on silk is,from old, strictly seperated. Men do the heavy boiling, unwrapping of the silk threads, dyeing, winding and stretching it on looms. Dyeing is done with natural materials: walnuts for the brown color, coccinelle for madder, acacia flower for deep yellow, onion skin for light yellow, indigo etc.I see the same custom as I saw in the bazaar of Samarkand: an old woman waves burning isiriq herbs over the products.. to ward the evil eye of.
The women weave the khatlanas, the 'king of satins' pattern for the Uzbek dresses and they knot silk carpets. One carpet (2x3m)will takes two years to finish.
For Islamic men it is harrar=unclean to wear silk on the skin. But the ancient rich khan's found this: instead of silk thread woven on silk thread, they wear beautiful gowns woven of silk thread on cotton thread = adras. The cotton is then worn next to the skin. These days Uzbek men don't wear silk, even not the cotton/ silk variety.*

On to the Kyrgyz border. Passportcheck, change of cars/drivers to get through a no- mansland. And three further passport- and luggage checks. Change of car/ driver in Kyrgyzstan for transport to Osh.*

Osh is one of the oldest towns in the valley, but little is left of the original Arabic citadel, palaces, prisons and walls. It lies at the foot of the Tacht-i-Suleiman (Throne of Solomon); one of the most holiest Islamic places in Central Asia. I walk the Tacht- i- Suleiman for a few meters and look up at this ragged mountain peak. It rains, but there is a fine view on the town.

From Osh into the Pamir Mountains *which is a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains, and known as the "Roof of the World".

The Pamir highway traverses the Pamir Mountains through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. It is the only continuous route through the difficult terrain of the mountains. The route has been in use for millennia, as there are a limited number of viable routes through the high Pamir Mountains. The road forms one link of the ancient Silk Road trade route.

It is exciting to be on this historical route, that once was a path for the camel caravans and their exotic merchandise as silk, condiments, gold, leather and precious stones. And I am glad the road is in a slightly better condition than the one to Ferghana yesterday, because it keeps on raining and snowing.*

I see the occasional house and tiny village next to the road. As we get higher it starts to snow. Cows, goats, sheep, donkeys and horses wander next to and on this road in the snow; seemingly unattended, but nomads must be close. Kyrgyzstan is agricultural; the driver remarks that there's no progress these last 20 years, no innovations or such, due to the political situation. He is bitter ( studied agriculture) about the need of a technological revolution.

We slowly navigate the hairpin curves in snow, wind and mist. I wonder if all will be alright. It seems to take ages.The occasional cow crosses the road. To speed things along the driver has loud techno music on. I am not such a fan of heights, but well...we're at 3200 meters now.
After passing the 3615 meter high Taldyk-pass in the snow storm, we go downwards to Sary Tash (3170 meter) where I’ll stay the night.*
This tiny village is situated near a crossroad: left goes the Pamir highway on to Pakistan, straight on is for China. I would like to go to Pakistan, Afghanistan, but that's too dangerous these days.)

Imagine: a few houses/ cabins huddled in the wind, minus 7 C and snow; cows searching for food, some dogs, and no one in sight. One of these houses is our homestay. A thickly clad woman waves us in.
A room with thin matrasses and thick red quilts on the floor to sleep on. We sit on brightly decorated red/yellow/ orange/purple cushions on the floor. There is water, but the snow in a pail from the outside has to be thawed on a stove. Samarkand and its 25 C is far, far away.

The outhouse is downstairs and a 30 or so meters away; a hole, but clean( I have a travel john; just in case ..). Also there is electricity and a tiny electric heater. I can make my cup of Nescafé right away. I'm glad that I have a thermos cup and that I took my electric water kettle. No lunch today but dinner: 3 vegetarian dumplings, bread, two chocolates. Early to bed is my guess.*
And I distribute my ceramic Dutch clogs to the children who help their mother with the tourists; greatly appreciated.( I had forty, now down to ten; should have brought more...)

(02-04 Sary Tash to China, Kashgar)
It was o.k., the sleeping arrangements. The outhouse was bitterly cold. Breakfast is wonderful with green tea and, unexpectedly,two fried eggs.*
On to the Chinese border and Kasgar.Two huge vultures watch our car drive away. A beautiful landscape with a clear blue sky to start with; a fierce wind and - 11 C. Further on there's lots of snow on the road. Truck drivers lie on the ground to put their snow chains on.

We continue our way through the Alay valley, climbing to the Irkestham-pass (3005 m.),the frontier between Kirgizië and China. From this pass it goes down to Kasgar, after crossing 4 different borders, with neutral zones. A huge truck takes me through one of these zones; I haul myself high up in the cabin; luggage and all...exciting! Another car with a Chinese/ Uyghur driver now. Passeportcheck, luggagecheckx4. Security is tight.

Camels in the mountains, what do they live on? I see but clumps of dry brown vegetation. It really is a beautiful, those barren landscape with rocks and snowcapped peaks in the distance. I feel very lucky to have made such a beautiful trip on the Pamir highway.

It is getting warmer and the road is very, very bad; at least 4 hours to reach the border and another hour for Kashgar, where it will be 20 degrees.
The official Chinese border: a new form to be filled out, a stamp in the passport and a luggage scan. In the evening we arrive in Kashgar, after a 6- hours shaking and bumping ride in the car.*

A quick bite in the nearby Uzbek restaurant and I turn in. No wifi, but perhaps in Turpan in a few days.

(I think it must be past? Eastern now, but this is another planet..... Where am I, who am I?)

03-04. Kashgar
Kashgar or Kashi( pop. 350.000) is an oasis county-level city in the western extremity of the People's Republic of China.The earliest mention of Kashgar is in the first century B.C., when the Chinese Han Dynasty envoy travels the Northern Silk Road. Since centuries it is an important trade-post on the trade routes between East and West. The road from Eastern and Central China branches out to both the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert, and in Kashgar the two branches meet.*

After a hassle with the management I have a clean room and sleep well. A breakfast of black tea, steamed dumpling, fried egg and several steamed vegetables. All eaten with chopsticks. When in China.........

The local population is a colorful ethnci variety of Uyghur, Han Chinese, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks; there often is ethnic unrest. The outskirts of Kashgar are new and Chinese. The center of Kashgar is old; the Uyghur minority is centered in the old town; tea houses, stalls with kebabs, old mosques, alleys with old houses and shops, laden donkeys. Hard to realize this is China; streetsigns are in Chinese as well as in Uyghur. It looks very oriental all.

Much of the old city is buldozered in the name of progress; modern appartments take the place of some of the beautiful ancient houses. And it goes fast: I can see the difference with last year.

The old town is bustling: in some streets there's digging for new sewers, water and so on. Half sheeps and goats hang from a hook in stalls to be butchered for different meats, also kebabs which are roasted then and there. Bakers paste their bread against the walls of their deep round hot ovens. The roads are dusty and water is sprinkled to lessen the dust clouds. Men manage all the stalls, also in the bazaar.

But first we walk to the sunday market just over the river Tuman. A bazaar which is open all week. A man presses dark red pomegranate juice; he spears them on his big knife and hopla in the press. As usual all goods are seperated: rows of stalls *with clothes, glittering fabrics, with drapes, fur hats. Another row with vegetables, nuts, spices, herbal remedies- included dried snakes a huge bowl of live scorpions. And toys, carpets, office material, candies and food stalls. In between men/boys with high laden mopeds or tricycles, which navigate this market, calling ' gosh' (?).*
A stop for green tea and cookies. I buy a beautiful red/ gold tin with Al- Otuor ( pure Ceylon tea).

Back to the square in front of the Id Kah Mosque, where the supermarket is, to buy provisions for the diverse train journeys: water, an extra thermos mug, dried noodles and biscuits. There's always hot water in the train in China. We will travel on 6 trains to end up in Bejing; 3 overnight sleepers and 3 trains by day. Tomorrow will be the first, to Turpan. It will be a 22 hours journey. I have to watch it, as trains go on Bejing time which is +two hours *local time.

A visit to the yellow tiled Id Kah Mosque, which is build in 1422. It can hold up to 20,000 people. The square in front of it is for pleasure: one can have his/ her photo taken on a gold/red decorated camel, Arabian stallion or in a chariot with a goat. There are divers things for children and Chinese tourists. Btw; I don't see another foreigner anywhere.

The mosque's courtyard and gardens are a central resting point in the city. It is being renovated, but we can enter after prayer. Green and yellow coloured wood are the predominant colors. The trees are yellowish dusty; it is spring.

I discover an café with wifi, so..

In my cup: lots of green tea, pumpkin soup, roasted eggplant sandwich and a light beer.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:17 AM   #24336
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Wow! What a wonderful trip and great trip report! I'm green with envy! You must be having such a fantastic time! I read your report twice just to try to 'live it' through your eyes.
Question: What is the 'stan' in all the place names in that region?

Just about time for a small glass of rum, a bowl of popcorn, and a movie!


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Old 04-03-2013, 09:22 AM   #24337
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Hi Stich, great you enjoyed the travel journal. I'm afraid it is a bit long, but I have little time and less wifi. The "stans'? I guess something like country or clan?

Edit: everyone ignore the * , I don't know where they came from. I write my journal on my iPad on Pages and edit it in IA- writer.....

Last edited by desertblues; 04-03-2013 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:06 AM   #24338
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Edit: everyone ignore the * , I don't know where they came from. I write my journal on my iPad on Pages and edit it in IA- writer.....
I started off looking for the annotations when I came across the first * .

A great report and a marvellous holiday Jacqueline (not sure "holiday" is the right word. Maybe "adventure"?). Like Stitchy I'm green with envy and admire your courage and fortitude. I can't help picturing my family in these situations, and it doesn't bear thinking about. "Sleep on the floor!!! Me???"

I was surprised to realise that Kashgar is in China. For some reason I always though it was a middle-eastern city, though it does sound like a bit of a hybrid culturally.

Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:12 AM   #24339
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From Wikipedia; The suffix -stan (Persian: ـستان‎) is Persian for "place of" or "country".
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:19 AM   #24340
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From Wikipedia; The suffix -stan (Persian: ـستان‎) is Persian for "place of" or "country".
Thank you.


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Old 04-03-2013, 10:31 AM   #24341
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Los Angeles is served by a whole slew of different telephone companies. One of the results is that often you may be calling someone on the next block but because the call goes through two different providers, it is billed as a long distance call. At the same time, you might be phoning someone clear across town and it's charge as a local call. Does this happen in the UK?
In the UK you can always tell what you'll be charged from the area code of the number. Local calls on land lines will always be charged as local calls.

There are some numbers to be wary of, as they are 'premium rate' numbers. And costs on mobiles are more complicated than they should be.

But on the whole, it's well regulated competition.

Nothing in my cup. Time for Coke Zero #3.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:35 PM   #24342
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Another gray day on the "Sunshine Coast". Ah, well, we had such great weather last week one could almost think that winter was gone. But no, there's a bit more to come.

Meanwhile, travelling vicariously with desertblues.

In my cup: Peet's Major Dickason's coffee.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:59 PM   #24343
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About to have my usual weak black breakfast tea, have been so busy over the last few weeks with new puppy, grandchildren and band that I haven't been able to visit here. I hope things are going to slow down a bit now although we are about to start on a round of friends visiting. I thought retirement meant rest!
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:57 AM   #24344
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Originally Posted by desertblues View Post
(Excerpts of my travel journal....<snip>
Several silkfactories in Margilan roll out millions of metres of colourful silks; also the bright colors for the traditional long dresses of the Uzbek women. In 1983 a group of Margilani silk workers begin their own workshop, based on traditional methods.
I visit such a workshop. It all begins with the cocoons, obviously. Individual households feed silkworms with fresh mulberry leaves. They bring it to be harvested; by boiling the cocoons, from june till the end of december.

The work on silk is,from old, strictly seperated. Men do the heavy boiling, unwrapping of the silk threads, dyeing, winding and stretching it on looms. Dyeing is done with natural materials: walnuts for the brown color, coccinelle for madder, acacia flower for deep yellow, onion skin for light yellow, indigo etc.I see the same custom as I saw in the bazaar of Samarkand: an old woman waves burning isiriq herbs over the products.. to ward the evil eye of.
The women weave the khatlanas, the 'king of satins' pattern for the Uzbek dresses and they knot silk carpets. One carpet (2x3m)will takes two years to finish.
For Islamic men it is harrar=unclean to wear silk on the skin. But the ancient rich khan's found this: instead of silk thread woven on silk thread, they wear beautiful gowns woven of silk thread on cotton thread = adras. The cotton is then worn next to the skin. These days Uzbek men don't wear silk, even not the cotton/ silk variety.*
Thank you for the time you take to make your journal so descriptive and informative. I would have loved to see the silk making process and the finished products as they were being made.
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Originally Posted by desertblues View Post
<snip>
(I think it must be past? Eastern now, but this is another planet..... Where am I, who am I?) <snip>
This really brought home the fact that you are traveling and viewing people and areas that, although in the present, are still mostly as they were in past history.
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Originally Posted by CRussel View Post
<snip> Meanwhile, travelling vicariously with desertblues.
<snip>


Waiting for my coffee to brew.
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:30 AM   #24345
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A cappuccino from our local up the road. Some spare time and peace and quiet, no one here but me and the dog and cats and they are having their afternoon naps. It's sooo good.
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