Inspiration for where to travel with children

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Why Did I Go to Central Asia?

Posted on | November 19, 2012 | No Comments



“Marco Polo! We should follow the Silk Road!”
As my husband grinned, thrilled with his brilliant idea, I blinked, lifted my jaw from the floor and shook my head.
He’d done it again. My knees were weak. A falling-in-love again moment. I’m doomed by the way this man and his madcap, audacious, why-the-hell-not ideas get me every time.

Marco Polo. Silk Road. Afghanistan. Samarkand. Adventure.
Time slowed down and I felt the adrenalin surge into my body. My stomach lurched and flipped at the same time.
“Done. But we’re NOT taking the kids into Afghanistan.”
“Details, details, Duffy. We’ll figure it out.”

We were standing in a bookstore in Seattle leafing through travel books. We’d committed to doing a round-the-world trip with our kids but were still in the planning stages. This Marco Polo idea ended up becoming a central organizing theme for part of our journey and yes, it was adventurous. It is not easy to travel independently from Xian to Turkey but we did. Even with all the fussing about visas and travel passes and illicit street-corner money-changers it will always be decidedly a high point in our year of travel.


I’ve been thinking a lot about Central Asia lately, you’ll find out why when the Passports with Purpose 2012 online fund-raising event starts on November 28th :)
Apart from the travel memories (good and bad), the photos and the certainty that I know I’m not done with this part of the world, what I also found myself mulling over was my initial reaction to Murph’s suggestion. He tripped a fascination I didn’t know I had, but there was definitely something there, where did it come from?

Taking it from the top, how did I get from Marco Polo to Adventure?
1. Marco Polo. Sure everyone knows who Marco Polo was and that he traveled from Italy to China. Easy. Not exciting.
2. Silk Road. Part of the Marco Polo baggage. He went to China and brought back silk.
3. Afghanistan. Hmm. OK. A little geographic fuzziness happening here. I think MP went through Afghanistan but he may not have. It’s in the general area though. Aha! There’s the first source of my adrenalin rush: nothing like pondering taking your children into a war zone to get a fight-or-flight response going.
4. Samarkand. Golden Samarkand. Peaches. Tennyson. Or maybe it was Keats. Did he go to Samarkand or did he just dream about it? Oh! Here, we go, itch scratched…
Rudyard Kipling.
That’s it!

I remember being 10 or 12 and watching the classic movie Kim. I was entranced. In this post-Harry Potter era it’s interesting to note that this is one of the few movies from that time with a child as the central character. Maybe that’s why the story fascinated me so much. I found a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s book at the library and read it. I pulled out encyclopedias and tried to find out more about the “Great Game” – and trust me, I had books A (Afghanistan), B (Britain), I (India), E (East India Company) and U (USSR) all open on the floor around me by the time I was done. I’m sure I dreamt about being independent enough to travel alone as Kim did.

So, now that I’ve been to Central Asia what do I think?
I plan to go back. There’s too many points on the map above that I didn’t get to see.
You should go. I mean it. This is one of the few places where you will actually feel like ye olde adventurer when you’re there.
Check back on 11/28/2012. I might be able to help.

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