“Yes, I know, objectively, that there are things wrong with my country. But I was born here; my country is like my mother, and for that, I love her and do not count her faults.” — a friend from one of the ‘Stans.
Someone recently referred to my blog as “the high mountains of Turdistan,” and I thought, “Gosh, that’s awfully unfair to the ‘Stans. What did they ever do to warrant the comparison?”
So this is a post about the ‘Stans.
Yeah, I bet you didn’t know that Kazakhstan is also Middle Earth.
The Kazakhs have some beautiful cities:
And understand the art of dramatic lighting:
Even the Kazakh flag is awesome:
Kyrgyzstan has got to be one of the most obscure countries in the world. It’s also one of the most isolated–it’s landlocked, the furthest landlocked country from the sea, and its rivers don’t even empty into the sea.
What it lacks in navigable rivers, it makes up for in mountains:
(Pictures from Trip Advisor’s Top 30 things to do in Kyrgyzstan.)
Also, the Kyrgyz people have some great yurts (I am a yurt fan):
Unique mosque architecture:
And they hunt with eagles:
Tajikistan appears to be a country on the upswing. Their homicide rate has fallen from 7.6 (per 100,000) in 1997 to a mere 1.6 in 2011. The US’s was 4.7 in 2012. (Though I hear getting enough food is still an issue.)
They have some nice architecture and monuments, though they may be overspending on them:
And yes, of course, they have mountains:
The Door to Hell.
Uzbekistan has high-speed rail networks with shinkansen:
And they have some of the world’s loveliest subway and train stations:
All right, I’ll admit it: people who know better than I do claim that Pakistan is a “failed state.” Or as a friend put it, “You think you have issues with the Taliban? We have to live next door to them!”
Still, I hope things work out for the Pakistanis. Especially since they have nukes.
Plus, they have some nice university architecture:
Yes, the Afghan people know the problems their country face. They’ve been invaded by the Soviets, taken over by the Taliban, then invaded by the Americans, etc. etc. It’s still their country, and chances are they aren’t getting a new one, so they’ll take their pride where they can get it.
Of course, Afghanistan is the kind of place that historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists love. The area has a history going back perhaps 50,000 years, was part of the Indus Valley civilization–one of the first civilizations in the world–and has been a major cultural meeting point along the Silk Road for thousands of years.
The ruins at Mes Aynak go back at least 5,000 years, making the complex one of the most valuable currently-being-excavated locations in the world. Unfortunately, the whole place is slated for destruction via mining–if you’re interested in saving Mes Aynak, go here.
Well, there you have it.