Saturday, 10 September 2011

East is east

Eastern Turkey is just as enchanting as the rest of Central Asia. Flocks of sheep watched over by dark-haired children are lit up by the late summer sun. The road follows rivers through fertile valleys. Golden haystacks and giant piles of dung hint at the cold coming.

Minarets still call the faithful to prayer. The houses are low squares, built of the surrounding earth with flat sod rooves. Many of the women wear head scarves, but in brighter colours than Iran. And it seems to be choice. Girls who wear headscarves walk down the street arm in arm with girls who don't. There is no hair piled high in rebellion with the scarf hanging as far back on the head as gravity will allow.

And in the supermarket I felt like I was at home in Brunswick. I knew I could get labne, rose jam and cinnamon for breakfast. There was pasta sauce and Swiss muesli and real bread and Rexona deodorant. Xingjiang province was supposed to be East meets West, but I didn't start feeling it till here.

I feel much happier here. A series of events have led to there being only six passengers and the two drivers. Everyone is an experienced traveller, it is very laid back and nothing is a fuss. The weather is cool, but with glorious sunshine. As we stood outside the Shoveitupyourarse palace this morning with bare arms and no head scarves, we soaked in the sun and I felt an inexplicable sense of well being.

Also, I don't want to examine too closely the joy that access to unrestricted internet brings me.

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