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Travel Pictures - UZBEKISTAN & GEORGIA - 1991

All images Ron Miller

          I visited the Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Georgia during the attempted August
     Coup. Although my first trip into a Muslim society (Uzbekistan) was eye opening, it was
     my exposure to the inadequate and sometimes non-existent Soviet tourist infrastructure
     that was most memorable.

Group photo of the members of my tour group and fellow survivalists of the Soviet Union's dysfunctional tourist infrastructure.
Registan means "sandy place" in Persian, and the square is surrounded by three Madrasahs, the oldest dating back to the 13th century.
A Madrasah is a medieval Moslem clergy academy and, during the 15th century, Registan Square was one of the top clergy universities
in all of the Moslem Orient. In spite of the dogmatic curriculums of many Madrasah's today, Madrasah's were the world's first institutes
of higher learning (universities). The world's very first university was in Fez, Morocco. (L to R) Toru, Kay, Yosh, and John -
Registan Square; Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Just outside of Samarkand are the unearthed stones of the silk road, one of the ancient travel routes connecting China with Europe.
The Silk Road basically came into being during the first century B.C. but flourished with the Roman Empire due to its desire for silk.
In addition to silk, some of the goods exchanged along this route included rubies, diamonds, pearls, porcelain, and spices.
The Venetian explorer Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road all the way to China -
(L to R - John, Toru, Kay, and our guide who is a survivor of the 900-day siege of Leningrad) -
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
This irrigation channel (or is it an open sewer?) flows and stinks its way through an impoverished suburb -
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Me posing in front of the fortifications of the Ark Fortress on a windy and dusty afternoon -
Buchara, Uzbekistan

These friendly Uzbeks were the managers of this rickety observation tower and cafe atop a former water tower.
The warmth with which they reached out to me hinted to the possibility that our common humanity can trump ideology -
Buchara, Uzbekistan

Members of the Soviet Union Survivalists staving off thirst with delicious melons (tourists were advised against drinking the local water).
Prior to arriving in Tashkent, I eagerly awaited a swim in the hotel's pool - that is, until witnessing the murky, green color! -
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
This photo was taken the day after the demise of the attempted coup by Soviet hard liners. Our guide jokingly said that the Lenin Fountain
had already been renamed "Niagara Falls." This statue of Lenin was the largest ever erected, and it has since been replaced with a globe -
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The buildings of Tbilisi's old city reveal the pre-Soviet, Eurasian character of this wonderful Georgian capital -
Tbilisi, Georgia

I had ample time to take this photo of my Soviet Survival Tour Group while we waited for our meal. After complaining about
the lack of service, we finally received what we decided collectively to call bone soup. Even after offering hard currency, we
were unable to obtain a decent meal. We couldn't determine whether the restaurant was lacking food or if the restaurant staff
was too lazy and unwilling to serve us. One thing is clear, communism destroyed Tbilisi's restaurant industry  -
Tbilisi, Georgia
At the conclusion of our Tbilisi tour, we paid our driver to escort us out to Mtskheta, which was the ancient capital of the Georgian
Kingdom of Iberia way back in 500 B.C. It was enlightening to see the entrepreneurial spirit of our driver and how the free market
was at work even within the Soviet Union (although not in our hotel restaurant!). Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (foreground) is one of the
most venerated places of worship for Georgia's Orthodox Christians. The Jvari Monastery is beautifully situated on the distant hill -
near Tbilisi, Georgia

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All images Ron Miller
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