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Being Homosexual in Southern Muslim Thailand

| September 19th, 2014 | Comments Off

Living a life of contradictions–Being homosexual in southern Thailand can cause further isolation in the already divided communities Bangkok Post May 8, 2014 By Takato Mitsunaga Making a major life-changing decision is always a struggle. One has to think about the potential consequences of a choice before deciding on a particular path. Khoirunnaklee Yusoh, 31, lives in the Krong Pinang district in the Muslim-dominated Yala province in southern Thailand. The deep South continues to be seen as closed and marginalised, primarily because of the current political problems and security issues affecting the divided religious communities. (photo right: Khoirunnaklee Yusoh at his house in Yala) Khoirunnaklee’s problem, however, is neither regional nor political. While cradling his sobbing niece in one hand, he recounts the beginning of a painful period of his life. “I felt really sad when my family didn’t accept me as gay,” said Khoirunnaklee, who works part-time at a

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Gay Uzbekistan Today

| June 9th, 2014 | Comments Off

Intro: a three week journey around the ancient and modern cities of Uzbekistan provides a stimulating and highly visual history lesson of the famous Silk Road. It also reveals a blind spot of homophobic policies against LGBT citizens.   Text and most photos by Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com Also see Gay Uzbekistan News & Reports Also see: Uzbekistan Photo Gallery   One of the first things we noticed arriving in Tashkent were the numbers of policemen–on the streets, at subway entrances and down in subway stations (where photos are forbidden), in public markets, patrolling pedestrian underpasses of main roads, on major bridges over rivers, cruising the streets in cars and jeeps. They can stop and detain any driver to see their papers are in order–and mostly likely speedup the delay with a few som (money) slipped between palms. Police are present on street intersections, outside theaters, hotels, museums, and of course

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Uzbekistan: Moynak Town and Aral Sea Photo Gallery

| May 29th, 2014 | Comments Off

Moynaq is a city in northern Karakalpakstan province in western Uzbekistan. Formerly an active fishing sea port, it is now home to only a few thousand residents since the 1980s due to the recession of the Aral Sea. Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2(26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects (to raise cotton). By 2007, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called “one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters”. The region’s once-prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed, bringing unemployment and economic hardship. In an ongoing effort in Kazakhstan to save and replenish the North Aral Sea, a dam project was completed in 2005; in 2008, the water level in this lake had risen by

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Nukus City and Area Photo Gallery

| May 29th, 2014 | Comments Off

Traveling by car from Khiva to the far west of the country to the town of Nukus and beyond to the Aral Sea is across dry flat desert terrain. Nukus is the sixth-largest city in Uzbekistan, and the capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic. The population of Nukus 2014 is approximately 230,000.  The city is best known for its world-class Nukus Museum of Art, also know as the Savitski Museum, after its founder Igor Savitski.     Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Khiva Photo Gallery 2

| May 27th, 2014 | Comments Off

Khiva is an impressive site on what was once the Great Silk Road from Asia to Europe.  Khiva was infamous for its long and brutal history as a slave-trading post. The historical old town was restored by the Soviets in the 1970s. The clustered array of mosques, madrassas and tiled minarets give a sense of how crowded and bustling this town must have been throughout its history.Extending 4,000 miles (6,437 km) the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length, beginning during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Khiva Photo Gallery 1

| May 27th, 2014 | Comments Off

Khiva is an impressive site on what was once the Great Silk Road from Asia to Europe.  Khiva was infamous for its long and brutal history as a slave-trading post. The historical old town was restored by the Soviets in the 1970s. The clustered array of mosques, madrassas and tiled minarets give a sense of how crowded and bustling this town must have been throughout its history.Extending 4,000 miles (6,437 km) the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length, beginning during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Bukhara Photo Gallery 2

| May 26th, 2014 | Comments Off

Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara has buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in old centre that probably hasn’t changed much in two centuries. It is one of the best places in Central Asia for a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan. It was as capital of the Samanid state in the 9th and 10th centuries that Bukhara blossomed as Central Asia’s religious and cultural heart. Most of the center is an architectural preserve, full of medressas (schools), minarets, a massive royal fortress (the Ark) and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. 19th and 20th century government restoration efforts, mostly by the Soviets, have brought this one ruined and derelict  city back to life as a historical and touristic gem. (See other photo galleries: http://www.globalgayz.com/asia/uzbekistan/)     Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Bukhara Photo Gallery 1

| May 24th, 2014 | Comments Off

Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara has buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in old centre that probably hasn’t changed much in two centuries. It is one of the best places in Central Asia for a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan. It was as capital of the Samanid state in the 9th and 10th centuries that Bukhara blossomed as Central Asia’s religious and cultural heart. Most of the center is an architectural preserve, full of medressas (schools), minarets, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. 19th and 20th century government restoration efforts, mostly by the Soviets, have brought this one ruined and derelict  city back to life as a historical and touristic gem. (See other photo galleries: http://www.globalgayz.com/asia/uzbekistan/)   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Samarkand Photo Gallery 2

| May 17th, 2014 | Comments Off

The ancient city of Samarkand is a crossroad of diverse world’s cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrasiab, Samarkand reached a cultural and commercial peak in the Timurid period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. The significant existing monuments include the Registan Mosque and madrasas, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, the Shakhi-Zinda compound and the Gur-Emir ensemble, as well as Ulugh-Beg’s Observatory. (See other photo galleries: http://www.globalgayz.com/asia/uzbekistan/)   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Samarkand Photo Gallery 1

| May 17th, 2014 | Comments Off

Samarkand is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarkand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic center for scholarly study. (See other photo galleries: http://www.globalgayz.com/asia/uzbekistan/)   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Fergana Valley, Rishtan Town Photo Gallery

| May 13th, 2014 | Comments Off

Fergana Valley is full of ancient and modern history as part of the Silk Road and the scene of a government massacre of protestors in 2007. Today it is quiet and many merchants and craftspeople ply their trades. Two well-known artisans are the Rustam Usmanov pottery makers of unique blue glaze “ishkor” which comes from red clay that is mined only here. The Bahrom family weavers make wool carpets of rich quality and color.     Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Fergana Valley, Kokand City Photo Gallery

| May 12th, 2014 | Comments Off

Kokand is a city in Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan with a population of about 200,000.It is on the crossroads of ancient trade routes and has existed since at least the 10th century. It was frequently mentioned in traveler’s accounts of the caravan routes between India and China.The present city began as a fort in 1732. In 1740 and became the capital of an Uzbek kingdom, the Khanate of Kokand boasting more than 300 mosques. Russian imperial forces captured the city in 1883 which then became part of Russian Turkistan.     Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Fergana Valley & City + Andijan City Photo Gallery

| May 12th, 2014 | Comments Off

Andijan is the Fergana Valley’s largest city and its spiritual mecca.  It is probably the country’s purest Uzbek city, and the best place to observe Uzbeks in their element.  Andijan is one of the oldest cities in the Fergana Valley. In some parts of the city archeologists have found items dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries. Historically, it was an important city on the Silk Road. The main attractions here are it’s bazaars (Eski market) and chaikhanas  (tea house), brimming with color and life. The ‘Andijan massacre’ occurred when Uzbek Interior Ministry (MVD) and National Security Service (SNB) troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan in Uzbekistan on 13 May 2005. Estimates of those killed on 13 May range from 187, the official count of the government, to several hundred. A defector from the SNB alleged that 1,500 were killed. Fergana is the valley’s least ancient

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Uzbekistan: Drive From Tashkent to Andijan City Photo Gallery

| May 12th, 2014 | Comments Off

Uzbekistan: The eastward drive from the capital of Tashkent to the city of Andijan, near the Chinese border, passes along a rugged highway that is smooth in places and torn up in others. It is heavily trafficked with tanker trucks carrying oil and natural gas. There are police checks that slow down traffic and police guards with machine guns at both ends of all tunnels and bridges. The trip is worth doing once for the beautiful mountainous scenery and for reaching the historic cities of Kokand, Fergana and Andijan. The latter city was the scene of a government crackdown (massacre) against demonstrators that killed–some say–hundreds of people.   Posted .

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Uzbekistan: Tashkent Photo Gallery 2

| May 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

Tashkent (meaning ‘Stone City’) is the capital of Uzbekistan with a population of about 2,309,300. Due to its position in Central Asia, Tashkent received Persian, Chinese and Turkic influences in its early history, before Islamisation in the 8th century AD. After destruction by Genghis Khan in 1219, the city was rebuilt and profited from the Silk Road. In 1865 it was conquered by the Russian Empire, and in Soviet times witnessed major growth and demographic changes by forced deportations from throughout the union. Today, as the capital of an independent Uzbekistan, Tashkent retains a multi-ethnic population with ethnic Uzbeks as the majority. (from Wikipedia) Tashkent city has a wide array of sites, ancient and modern. The city bustles with free enterprise from tiny hole-in-the-wall watch repair shops no bigger than 6′x6′ to enormous international 5-star hotels. It’s all  watched over carefully by ‘big brother’ government and its president Islam Karimov

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Uzbekistan: Tashkent Photo Gallery 1

| May 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan with modern and ancient buildings and lifestyles. From donkey carts to Mercedes-Benz (a few) the city is a complex mix of ugly Soviet-style apartment blocks, sleek modern office buildings and historic Islamic-style mosques and museums. There is a wide range of fine hotels from plain two-star digs to five-star luxury splendors. The city bustles with commerce and capitalism with the usual behind-closed-doors corruption, political privilege and police bribes. But most tourists have a positive adventure as they follow the famous Silk Road route from Tashkent to Samarkand to Bukhara to Khiva–and perhaps to the dried-up Aral Sea that has rusting ships in the sand. (See other photo galleries: http://www.globalgayz.com/asia/uzbekistan/)    Posted .

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Gay Tibet–An Impossible Dream

| December 22nd, 2013 | Comments Off

Looking for a LGBT community in Tibet is futile. Of the handful of modern reports about gay life in Tibet, since 1999, only one writer claims to have encountered more than one or two gay individuals, usually by chance. Jump ahead to my own visit in 2013 when I did not find any gay person to interview for an account about LGBT life–but the story does not end there.   Richard Ammon GlobalGayz.com September 2013 Also see Gay Tibet News & Reports Also see Tibet Photo Galleries   A few nights ago I watched the 2007 film ‘Seven Years in Tibet‘ based on the true life story of the Dalai Lama and his early-life tutor Heinrich Harrer, an ex-Nazi Austrian. It is a poignant story of an intimate friendship that was interrupted by the Chinese invasion of Tibet but continued after the Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959. That

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Thailand–A Place for Gay Old Men

| December 20th, 2013 | Comments Off

Getting old and gray does not mean giving up sex. In southeast Asia, especially Thailand, many retirees find renewed romance and sexual pleasure among the country’s welcoming young gay generation.   This story incorporates another earlier story of unknown origin, published perhaps in Thai Puan magazine, perhaps in 2011 in Bangkok. The author is unknown. (If readers recognize any identifying information please contact GlobalGayz at micamm@globalgayz.com.) On the gay beach at Jomthien Two miles south of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand under sunny skies, 85 degrees in November with gently swaying palms. It’s a bit like a UN gathering here: on my right is a Brit; in front of him is a Norwegian; on my left a Russian; scattered around are Americans, Dutch and Germans. Surrounding all of them are Thais: the beach crew renting out chaises, the fresh fruit vendor, a pirated DVD seller with current Hollywood blockbusters

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Gay in North Korea

| December 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Being gay in North Korea: finding insightful information about LGBT life in this closeted country  is like trying to find water on Mars. This overview by a British writer suggests, among other things, that the only North Koreans who know about homosexuality are ones who escape into South Korea where gay life is more known.   Memories of an Escapee Ji Min, like nearly all other young North Korean men, took part in regular compulsory military training. Once a year, professionals from the cities such as him were drafted and sent off to do military service for about two weeks. Working with Ji Min was another young man of marriageable age, who the army had given the task of distributing food, rations and other necessities to the soldiers – a job which could make one quite popular with your fellow soldiers. Furthermore, on the job they were exposed to many

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Tibet Random Rural Photos

| November 14th, 2013 | Comments Off

Tibet is a dramatic country with vast grassy plains and rugged high mountains. It is a Buddhist country with countless monasteries, temples, shrines and symbolic stupas. The lifestyle is rural with most Tibetans engaged in agriculture and animal raising. Mount Everest is called Chomolungma by Tibetans which means ‘Goddess mother of the Earth’. It’s easy to see how appropriate this name is when viewing the great giant even from afar.   Posted .

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Tibet: Lhasa – Sera Monastery

| November 12th, 2013 | Comments Off

Sera Monastery is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. It is about 5 kms north of Lhasa in the hills. The monastery oversees 19 smaller hermitages (including Pobanka Monastery) and nunneries all located in the foot hills north of Lhasa. The Sera Monastery campus is a complex of structures with the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges; it was founded in 1419. Sera Monastery in Lhasa is noted for its ‘monk debates’ on the teachings of Buddha and the philosophy of Buddhism. Sera developed over the centuries as a renowned place of scholarly learning, training hundreds of scholars, many of whom have attained fame in the Buddhist nations. Visitors are welcome to observe these lively outdoor debates.   Posted .

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Tibet: Lhasa – Pabonka Monastery

| November 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Pabonka Monastery is a historical hermitage (founded in the 7th century) about 8 kilometers northwest of Lhasa on the slopes of Mount Parasol. It is well known today partly because it’s the site where ‘sky burials’ take place. Sky burials involve the dismemberment of  deceased human corpses and leaving the remains open to the sky where vultures pick off the flesh. The remaining bones are crushed into a powder and also left to the birds. The monastery has many white stupas repeatedly washed with paint mixed with milk. Above the monastery on the high hills are thousands of prayer flags hung on long ties that stretch across ravines.    Posted .

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Tibet: Lhasa – Jokhang Temple

| November 11th, 2013 | Comments Off

Jokhang Temple is located on Barkhor Square in central Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is controlled by the Gelug Buddhist school. The temple’s architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, Chinese Tang Dynasty design, and Nepalese design. Along with the Potala Palace, it is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace,” and a spiritual centre of Lhasa. (from Wikipedia)   Posted .

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Tibet: Lhasa – Summer Palace

| November 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

The Summer Palace is the former summer home of HH Dalai Lama. It’s now a museum, as designated by the communist Chinese, but many native Buddhists still consider it a sacred place and offer prayers at the temples within. Foreign visitors cannot go in to any temples or museums or to other cities or sites (such as Mount Everest) without a local guide. Our guide was a very nice young Tibetan woman named Tenzin seen here in photo one.    Posted .

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Tibet: Lhasa – City Photos

| November 10th, 2013 | Comments Off

Visiting Lhasa city is like finding a ghost in a closet full of living beings. It is at once an ancient seat of tradition that lives in the shadow of progressive communist changes. Throughout the city and beyond there is indelible Tibetan ethos mixed with the artifice of Chinese manufacture. The imperialist occupier would like to fade out the indigenous culture and make Tibet into another ‘zone’ but beneath the apparent acquiescence of the secular and sacred population there is an iron resistance that will never fully surrender. Here are some random images of the ancient and modern city of Lhasa.      Posted .

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