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Touring Central Asia

25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 29 March 2014

From Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, via Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, our correspondents share insights and stories from the central Asian 'stans'. Karen Allen meets a businessman in the Afghan city of Kandahar whose success rises and falls with the availability of power. What will happen to his British aid-funded generators once the coalition forces leave?

Chris Terrill visits a school in Kabul that is getting round the authorities' edict imposing single sex education by defiantly continuing to teach boys and girls together in extra-curricular classes instead.

Jonathan Fryer takes us on a railway journey across not one, but several 'stans'. Travelling the old Silk Road in a plush train rather than on the camels of old, he crosses from Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan and then Turkmenistan, taking in gleaming cities and gravel deserts.

Abdujalil Abdurasulov is annoyed by how obsessed Kazakhstan is with its image. Not only does he get sent an entire opera house staff when all he wanted to film was a single opera singer, but the president is even considering changing the country's name, so it is no longer 'one of the stans'.
And, while officials worry about Kazakhstan's image, Caroline Eden finds that some ordinary Kazakhs feel adrift in the modern era - unsure as to whether to turn to politics or religion, they ask old shamans for guidance instead.


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