Final Moments with a Familiar Face

Khiva, Uzbekistan, on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

For my last few moments in Khiva, I headed to Bir Gumbaz, this centrally-located outdoor/indoor cafe where every indie traveler seemed to end up at since all other options were already closed for the season. It was there that I’d had dinner with a German/Russian couple I’d met in Samarkand the night previous, but my final evening was in solitude — until a familiar face showed up.

“Well, there you are,” said the Aussie voice. “May I join you?”


It was Richard, the cheeky middle-aged guy I’d encountered in Tashkent and then again in Samarkand, who was also on the Silk Road tourist trail of Uzbekistan — akin to South America’s “gringo trail,” where you always run into familiar faces in each town along the way. He was sans his guide Mohammed, but would meet him later for dinner. (Apparently over the week, Richard drank him under the table.)

The temperature dropped so we went indoors for a session of beers and conversation. He too had the gingery hot “balls on fire” incident in the Bukhara hammam and reckoned it’s a prank they tell tourists to do for a laugh. (He didn’t last as long as I did; he immediately sought out water to extinguish his genitalia.)

I learned that Richard was not on holiday but on a research trip to survey the land before taking a tour group out in a couple of weeks. As former executive at major adventure tour company Peregrine, he eventually went on his own to lead smaller groups. I revealed my role in the travel industry and we bonded over philosophies of travel off and on the press/PR trip circuit. (I don’t believe they are truly free expressions of indie travel, which is why I seldom write longer narratives like this while on one of them. But I digress.)

I noticed it was getting late and that I needed to leave to get to the airport for my long haul back to Urgench to Tashkent to Istanbul to New York. Richard didn’t leave with me; he ordered another beer before sending me off with parting words: “I’ll see you… somewhere in the world.”

After an exhilarating and restorative journey through Central Asia, somewhere in the world I’d be indeed.

My favorite Indiana Jones quote adorns my t-shirt as I stand all along the watchtower of old Khiva. It is a motto that I’ve applied on this trip — as well as all the other indie trips on (Note: may also be applied to life in general.)

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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Previous entry:
Last Sunset in Central Asia


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

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Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.

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