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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sgtravelcafe @Katong 11 Sept 09

On 11 Sept 09, we gathered at Johann's place behind Katong Shopping Centre for September's session. As Johann is moving soon, this would be the last time we are holding a session at his place. Guess what, we had 54 attendees, one of the largest sessions ever.
We began with aLong's heart-warming Brief Moment session (though not too brief - 50min instead of the standard 5-10min) on a small town in Shan State of Myanmar: "Hidden Heaven Through a Bumpy Path - Namshan, Myanmar". Once again, we were reminded that a great journey does not have to be to a place with spectacular scenery. What makes a place memorable is often the nice people one meets and the pleasant surprises and process of self-discovery that results from such a trip. At the end of a muddy, bumpy ride through the mountains, aLong discovered a place that was as fascinated with him as he was with them, and he made a good friend cum brother as a result.
The keynote lecture of the month was "Tianshan & Pamirs: Roof of the Silk Road - Adventures in Central Asia" by Boochap. Boochap spoke about his adventures in all 5 former-Soviet Central Asian republics, in particular, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We were told about the bureaucracy, corrupt individuals and nice people he met in his journey, the legends of Zhangqian and Alexander the Great in the fabled Ferghana Valley, and the difficulties of travelling in the sparsely populated Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) of Tajikistan. We were given a wonderful treat of the spectacular scenery of the legendary Pamirs which covers most of GBAO, as Boochap recounted his travails along the winding tracks along the Tajik-Afghan border.
Let us thank our gracious hosts - Johann and Patsian - and our wonderful presenters - aLong and Boochap - for yet another great session of SgTravelCafe.


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