Meet in Bermuda or Turkmenistan?

I’m going to Bermuda January 10-13. Weather supposedly typically involves a high temp of around 70 degrees, perfect for walking around the downtown area. Who wants to join? I don’t have a schedule there, just making an exploratory foray to decide if we should organize a trip there with the kids (requires military-style planning).

The other option is a Silk Road trip organized by the MIT Alumni folks (but you don’t need an MIT connection to sign up). It is April 27-May 14, 2020. It is a soft and easy way to see five “Stan” countries that are challenging to visit independently. I think that there are still a few spots left (max group size: 21). From the web site:

Explore four different UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the fabled Uzbek oases of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Turkmenistan’s Parthian Kingdom of Nisa. In Penjikent, Tajikistan, explore the ruins of the 5th century AD trade center, Shakristan. Wander through colorful bazaars and step into the past on the streets of Silk Road trade centers crowned with complex Persian architecture. Along the way, meet with local experts and artisans, attend an engaging performance of the Kyrgyz Epic of Manas, and visit a traditional Kazakh falcon farm.


2 nights Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
2 nights Khiva, Uzbekistan
3 nights Bukhara, Uzbekistan
3 nights Samarkand, Uzbekistan
2 nights Tashkent, Uzbekistan
2 nights Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
2 nights Almaty, Kazakhstan

I’m going solo since (a) our kids will be in school, (b) senior management will not abandon our children for that long, and (c) most of my friends are stuck working or teaching. (Our ground school class at MIT is over in January and I’m done with the data science class at Harvard Medical School by the end of March.)

One of our pilot friends spent a whole year in Turkmenistan teaching mathematics at an American high school. She loved it! During a trip to Moscow, I learned that Uzbeki food is a staple for Muscovites, in the same way that Mexican food is popular among Americans.

It is easy and inexpensive to get to these places on Turkish Airlines (even from Silicon Valley) or Emirates.

Send me a note ( if interested!

8 thoughts on “Meet in Bermuda or Turkmenistan?

  1. I’d rather go skiing. Already went to Heavenly Tahoe, CA side last weekend with my wife and 2 of 3 kids. The other one’s best friend graduated from college.

  2. I spent a fair amount of time in Almaty over a period of years and it is a not unpleasant Soviet city, though without anything to see. I have never heard of a reason to visit Bishkek. Samarkand is supposed to be interesting. Turkmenistan to see some of the weirdness from the Turkimbashi era. All of these countries are basically family businesses with the Nazarbaev family owning Kz. (& funneling lots of money to the Clinton fdtn.) the Karimov family at least while he was alive owning Uzb. and so on. Kazakh food is pretty awful & I imagine the food in Kirg. is if anything worse. Plov in Uzb. is ok — but it is just rice and meat and a bit of shredded carrots and onions. You can get perfectly decent plov in NYC so there is no reason to travel half way round the world for it & whether it would even be worth traveling from Boston to NYC for is questionable. Most of these countries are nomad cultures so there isn’t much to see except when some conqueror built something or other many years ago. If you want to go to that part of the world i would think Armenia and Soviet Georgia would be better choices. They are both ancient cultures where there is some continuity between the past and present.

  3. Have you been to Bermuda before?

    I was thoroughly unimpressed. There isn’t much to do and everything is insanely expensive.

    • James: I haven’t been there (see for the places that I have been). A friend who used to go there periodically to deal with some offshore funds said “three nights is a long time.” (I wonder if the new U.S. corporate tax rate and tax code is hurting Bermuda. It is much less advantageous for a big company to go offshore now, I think.)

      How bad can it be compared to Boston in mid-January?

    • Your friend is correct – an afternoon stopover while on a cruise is the appropriate amount of time.

      Bermuda doesn’t really have a downtown, the restaurants are mediocre at best, and there is no culture to speak of… Nice beaches though.

      For all its faults, Boston is a pretty great city, even in the winter.

      That’s a solid list – you should check out Croatia when you get a chance. I’m going to Colombia in February so I will report back.

      How do you like Israel? I’m considering moving to Tel Aviv (from North America) for work (enterprise software) this coming June.

      What was Palestine like?

    • I would love to see Croatia. I’ve become less interested in Europe, though, with each passing decade. Whenever great sights and good weather intersect at a place in Europe there will be an overwhelming crush of tourists. I don’t want to stand in line for two hours to visit a museum or have to crane my neck to see an oil painting, but I also don’t want to go to Paris or Rome in January.

      Israel as a place to live is awesome if you value strong connections to friends and family. The compact size means that treasured friends and relatives are never far away. Everyone can get together for a weekend dinner. Having general aviation as a hobby is not so great in Israel. Nearly all of the airspace is restricted. American-style flying involves leaving the country altogether, e.g., up to Cyprus (the neighboring Arab countries are not welcoming to the Israeli Cessna or Cirrus pilot!). Costs are much higher than in the U.S. One thing that can be observed from the GA routes in Israel is that the Palestinian areas are disorganized and trash-strewn compared to the Israeli areas. If you like Switzerland and Japan you’ll have some issues with Israel and you’ll hate the Palestinian territories!

    • I actually visited Israel & Japan back-to-back on a trip last year; I wanted to see two polar opposite cultures… I was not disappointed.

      Are your travel dates flexible? I’ve found September to be the optimal time to visit Europe.

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