Xayr O’zbekiston, yakshi qo’ling

Tashkent, I will miss you and your inexplicable quantity of ferris wheels.

Tomorrow morning I’m leaving on what I hope will be a six month trip through Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and back to Uzbekistan. Getting the visas was such a performance that it became an end in itself, and now I have a passport full of stickers it’s begnning to sink in that oh crap, I’m leaving tomorrow. Now the thought is almost overwhelming: I have Persepolis and Isfahan and Kashgar and the Hindu Kush all before of me, and I am so excited and terrified that I can hardly breathe.

I’ve no idea what it’s going to be like; I’ve never travelled alone for such a long period before, and although I’m reasonably confident of my ability to handle most things these places may throw at me, I’m a little worried I may find it all too mentally exhausting and crash after a month or two. Except this is what I’ve been dreaming of for years, and I’ve lived on my own for a year in one of the most frustrating and ridiculous countries in the world (I love you, Uzbekistan, but good Lord, you don’t make it easy), and I’ve just spent a week in Afghanistan (this did seem like a sensible idea at the time), and now is not the time to wuss out. I can do this.

It is, however, a great shame that the buildup to epic journeys has to be ruined by bloody packing. Marco Polo was strangely silent on this point (mind you, things would be a lot easier if I had my own caravan of camels). My backpack capacity seems to decrease every time I use it.

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