Category Archives: Central Asia

Bishkek restaurant review: Smokie’s Bar-B-Q

First published in The Times of Central Asia, January 2013. You walk in and find yourself thousands of miles out West, diners enjoying enormous-looking ribs, good music, friendly atmosphere. A bar in the middle of the room, I take a … Continue reading

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Postcard from Central Asia #3: persuading Madam President

It’s not every day you manoeuvre a former President of a country into doing something they didn’t want to do, and in front of a room full of lots of people. Roza Otunbayeva stepped down as President of the Kyrgyz … Continue reading

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Postcard from Central Asia #2: encounter with a not very good spy

One of my favourite places in Bishkek is Smokie’s Bar-B-Q, a 24-hour American ribs and beer joint where many a late evening has been spent in good company. You meet all sorts there: aviation engineers, diplomats, journalists, musicians. I’m talking to … Continue reading

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Bishkek restaurant review: Moldova

First published in The Times of Central Asia, January 2013. A heavy wooden front door, cathedral-esque; inside is more sturdy wood, but any impression of sanctity gives way instead to what resembles a homely beer cellar. I spy Moldovan borsch … Continue reading

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Postcard from Central Asia #1: Almaty, dead sheep polo, and an encounter with Kyrgyzstan’s finance minister

Remarkable: it’s late January, and barely a month ago was so cold a five minute walk at night numbed my gloved fingers, but the sun comes out every day now and it could be a pleasant English afternoon in April. … Continue reading

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Bishkek restaurant review: Pirogoff Vodkin

First published in The Times of Central Asia, December 2012. All I had wanted was a bowl of borscht, a token vegetable offering on an otherwise cake-and-chocolate-heavy Christmas Day. I ended up with much else besides, and what is perhaps … Continue reading

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Made in Britain – actually made in China with smuggled Central Asian materials, finishing touches in the UK: cashmere’s long road to our high streets and supermarkets

UK retailers are selling cheap clothes made in China from cashmere smuggled out of Central Asia, a leading academic has claimed. Dr Carol Kerven, Research Fellow at Imperial College London, said that supermarket cashmere sweaters that peel or ‘bobble’ shortly … Continue reading

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