I TRACE MY BURGEONING INTEREST IN visiting the “’stans” of Central Asia back to a single verse by English poet James Elroy Flecker. It piqued my curiosity when I read it years ago and claimed a place in my dreams ever since. The poem — The Golden Journey to Samarkand — though it was written in 1913, could easily be written today, just with #travelstoke pinned onto the end.
We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.
Samarkand was the ancient capital of the Timurid Empire; now it is a city in modern-day Uzbekistan.
The lust of knowing what should not be known simply cannot be satisfied without the act of going. In September 2014, it was time to go. I took a direct flight to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
Here are 18 of my favorite images from my long-awaited golden journey to Samarkand — and beyond.