All posts by Tim Way

I am passionate about being there, experiencing the culture and beliefs, meeting the people and eating the food. Hopefully you are too!

delhi belly

It’s a cliche, but nothing prepares you for India.

It’s huge, to get anywhere requires an overnight train journey; yet it’s still 50% more densely populated than the UK. And when you get there, the contrast is mindblowing. Octogenarian waifs will pull you and our two friends, in a hand-drawn rickshaw for ten pence to a bar where a beer costs three pounds.

Railway stations are home to thousands of people each night. Each station. Under staircases, all throughout the waiting rooms, arrival halls, platforms, and even between the tracks, people will lay their heads to catch some sleep. Simultaneously, the rich will pay thousands of dollars a month to rent marble apartment palaces in the south Delhi suburbs.

By the time you’ve realised what ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ really mean when compared, you will have been approached by thousands of rickshaw wallers, hundreds of stallholders, and tens of drug dealers. They prevail throughout all of the Indian cities I visited, although only in the touristy areas. Break out to areas where a white man is rare, and the warmth and excitement extended to you is genuine and has no strings attached.

It’s so rich in culture, they are knocking down thousand year old temples to build Commonwealth Games amenities, without complaint. It’s so rich in bacteria, that you’ll pretty much be shitting non-stop for your entire trip.

Here are a few images to accompany these and other words:

India '09

a brief introduction to buddhism

Xinjiang, China’s New Frontier province is the north-eastern extremity of a swathe of Turkic speaking peoples; it’s the northern boundary of Tibetan buddhism and the north-eastern frontier of China. Quite the melting pot.

Venture east and south: westerners are rare, hotpots are tasty and ever-present, and when we passed through, snow caused unseasonal havoc. The perfect opportunity for my first experiences of buddhism, the most peaceful of faiths, in the most peaceful of untouristy surrounds:

China '09

as weird as it gets

Turkmenistan is a flat desert with some of the world’s largest gas reserves underneath.

Above ground, a real mix of religions combine to provide a country which is almost more weird where the egomaniac Turkmenbashi hasn’t put his print. Canyons that would be at home in SW USA attract no tourists, holes in the desert are permanently ablaze, and Ashgabat’s unique – gold and marble and soon to be crumbling unique:

As weird as it gets from Tim Way on Vimeo.

the eurasian bridge

Turkey’s a funny cookie. Where does it fit?

European in outlook, Ankara and Istanbul are quite apart from the rural honesty of the vast majority of this enormous country, criss-crossed by railway lines taking the scenic route around the mountainous interior. Well on the way to European integration (French veto permitting), despite having recently outlawed the most significant Kurdish political party, this bejeweled Eurasian nation deserves your investigation:

the eurasian bridge from Tim Way on Vimeo.

to the roof of the world: episode three – the roof of the world

The high Pamir: a country-sized slab of nothingness. The most beautiful of desert nothingness. Victimised since independence, punished in the UN civil war settlement, a people already without anything and kept alive by the Aga Khan for may years eek a life when none should feasibly be possible.

Deep blue glacial lakes, sheep with horns as wide as a human is tall, hundreds of kilometres of porous international borders and sheer perfection in vistas:

to the roof of the world: episode three – the roof of the world from Tim Way on Vimeo.

to the roof of the world: episode two – the aga khan’s people

A ramp to the roof of the world leads up the Wakhan Valley, great game vortex. NGOs outnumber tourists, potatoes provide entire meals, Afghanistan is just there and beauty in nature, both human and physical, is all encompassing:

to the roof of the world: episode two – the aga khan’s people from Tim Way on Vimeo.

A couple of factual inaccuracies contained in this video have been brought to my attention:

– Due to the Wakhan Valley’s inaccessibility and distance from the production/processing sites, it is highly unlikely that large quantities of drugs pass over the river. The most likely route is closer to Dushanbe.
– The Wakhan frontier between the Russian and British spheres of influence was finalised in 1895 by commission parties from each country heading to the region and taking detailed altitude, latitude and longitude measurements. T. Hungerford Holditch, who took part in the British Commission describes his memories of the trip, including the huge bonfire held in the Wakhan when they came to agreement and realised they wouldn’t have to spend the winter in the freezing cold! “English and Russian topographers worked side by side and shared equally in the rough and tumble of demarcation”, he writes.

Thanks to Robert Middleton, whose website is a leading resource on the Pamirs, for pointing these errors out.

to the roof of the world: episode one – the road to monday

Western Tajikistan would extend far further to encompass Samarkand and Bokhara, had Stalin not gerrymandered to prevent ethnic unity in the Soviet Union. Today, it goes as far as Penjakent, the hopping off point for the Fan Mountains – home to isolated communities of sheep and grain farmers in a landscape straight out of a news report from norther Afghanistan, just a (giant’s) stone throw away:

to the roof of the world: episode one – the road to monday from Tim Way on Vimeo.