Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gas and glass

I know a lot of you (if not all) are really complaining about the gas prices at home right now. I just want to make a quick comment on that just to put it in perspective and make you jealous at the same time.
You guys actually don't have it as bad as you think and gas is still pretty cheap at home compared to other places. At least you still make some money to pay for it too. What I want to know is how do people in Pakistan, Tajikistan or Georgia, where average incomes are a few dollars a day maybe, get by when the price of their gas is also $1/litre or more. It's amazing to think that these poor countries are also suffering from the same brutal gas price hikes that we are.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those countries that have all the gas. The caspian sea is apparently totally loaded with natural resources and fuel reserves to rival anywhere else in the world. The countries really cashing in on that are of course Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. As they don't have any tourism there, almost all foreigners are rich businessmen cashing in on this and the prices of everything (especially hotels) reflects that fact. Turkmenistan has tons of natural gas and not much oil but apparently Iran sends a lot of it's oil to Turkmenistan to get processed so Turkmenistan cashes in anyway. Their fuel is so heavily subsidized that gas is 1.5 cents/litre!!! That is not a typo. If you can think of anywhere cheaper I'd love to hear it. Their airline is also so heavily subsidized that even a foreigner can fly all the way across the country for about $10! That's definately the best deal I've ever seen.
I know we are a little behind on where we've been and what we've done lately, but we are moving fast these days trying to get through the Caucasus quickly as it is even more expensive than eastern europe and we don't like that idea very much. We are currently in Tbilisi, Georgia and I just want to say that I haven't seen this much garbage lying around since India. The worst part is all the broken glass everywhere. Damn drinkers. It's nice being in all the Muslim countries because you don't have all the problems associated with alcohol. One of the simplest, but most obvious is the broken glass from bottles lying around. Even in India, where garbage is piled sky high, there was never any broken glass. Convenient, considering half the people didn't wear shoes. That is just not an option over here.
We'll try to catch up a little later. Things are still going well. There are new pictures up from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in case you hadn't noticed.
Ammon

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