The first thing we noticed about the Czech Republic was that the road leading away from the [German] border was teeming with prostitutes….We passed on into the Czech Republic……..the landscape was the same as in Germany – wide plains dotted with small copses and woods – but it felt different. The road was rougher, narrower and more potholed. The villages we passed through were shabby. There as little advertising, a legacy from the country’s days as an Eastern Bloc satellite of the Soviet Union.
‘Slovaks work hard and want to make the country better,’ Csaba said, his wife translating. ‘But gypsies just play music and dance and want to do nothing,’………
Many people in the Ukraine spoke at length about the mafia but nobody would let us use this in the documentary. It was a potent indication of the hold the mafia had over Ukranians and their country, possibly greater than the fear instilled by the communist regime fifteen years earlier.
….the poverty we saw in the Ukranian countryside had given us a lot to contemplate…….
We’d been alerted to the behavior of the police in eastern Europe and central Asia. Every guidebook we’d read and every traveler we’d spoken to had warned us they were notoriously unpredictable.
…….Avon Skin So Soft, which an angler friend had told me was the best mosquito repellent…..
It didn’t seem to matter where you were in Mongolia; if anything went wrong somebody would soon turn up. Two old boys in the obligatory blue canvas baseball caps got out of the jeep. Like most Mongolians, the first thing they did was offer us a smoke.
It seemed that few transactions in Mongolia were complete without a vodka toast….
……..I’d come to love Mongolia…….I’d enjoyed meeting people along the road and I’d been blown away by the helpfulness of complete strangers……
……….Ulaanbaatar ………The city was a strange place, an ugly blot on Mongolia’s stunning landscape with a filthy power station near its centre expelling dirty smoke into the atmosphere and pumping hot water along city streets through massive asbestos-clad pipes. Since Mongolia shook off its Soviet satellite status in the 1990s and embraced independence, the number of street children had mushroomed. Unemployment had soared, welfare services declined and the gap between rich and poor widened as the country embraced free market economics.
….the most beautiful part of Mongolia. It had been like riding through the pages of National Geographic. Every time we blinked there would be a jaw-dropping sight to look at or think about. A land in which most of the people still rode horses and wore traditional clothes, it was timeless without being stuck in the past. Much of the rural population still lived in gers, but they’d have solar panels and satellite dishes. All the guys we met just wanted to be herdsmen, happy to spend their lives on horses, rounding up sheep and goats, while the girls all had ambitions to head for Ulaanbaatar to go to university.