A Thousand Years of Maul(e)

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Arms of Patrick Maule b. 1585, 1st Earl of Panmure, Baron Maule of Brechin and Navar.  Clementia et animis – “With leniency and bravery”

I’m not sure what inspired me to start doing a bit of Maul(e) family historical research this morning, but one thing led to another, and hours of research later a quick post evolved into an epic essay of Maul family history.  As suspected, our family name is of Norman origin. “Of Maule” meaning from the village of Maule in the Yvelines department of Île-de-France region, about 40km west of Paris. Records indicate a “Guarin de Maule” alive in the year 960, is possibly the grandfather of Peter the “seignior of Maule” or “rich Parisian” mentioned by Benedictine monk Orderic Vital (1075 to 1142) in his Historia Ecclesiastica, one of the great contemporary chronicles of 11th and 12th century Normandy and Anglo-Norman England. He informs us that Peter made a donation to the Priory of Maule, a satellite of the Benidictine Abbey of Saint-Evroult, in 1076, with the consent of his wife Widesmouth and his sons Ansold, Theobald and William. The Gurain de Maule who is the common ancestor of the English and Scottish Maules was born in 1047. Gurain is the son of Peter, brother of Ansold, both whom participated in the Norman Conquest with William the Conqueror, and fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Records indicate that Ansold was knighted in 1065, just before the Conquest. Gurain stayed in England, but Ansold is later mentioned as having accompanied the Duke of Guiscard on his expedition to the Balkans where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Durazzo in 1081, culminating in the defeat of Emperor Alexius Comneus of Constantinople. Ansold succeeded his father as the aforementioned Seigneur de Maule in 1100. At the end of February 1106 he mediated a dispute between himself and the Monks of Maule following the appearance of a great comet. Shortly before his death his wife reluctantly consented to dissolve their marriage so that he could take holy orders. He was accepted as a monk on the 24th of December 1118 and died in the Priory at Maule three days later.

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King Edward I – Wikipedia Commons

As his share of the spoils of the Conquest, Guarin acquired the Lordship of Hatton, in Yorkshire. Upon his death in about 1100, one of his two sons, Robert, attached himself to David, Earl of Huntingdon, and was granted lands by the Crown in Lothian, Scotland. Sir Peter de Maule, direct descendant of Robert, acquired the baronies of Panmure and Benvie in 1224, as the only heir of William de Valoniis (The Valoniis were one of the most eminent families of the Conquest). Peter built Panmure Castle, and appears to have had two sons, Thomas and William. The older son, William, inherited the title of Earl of Panmure. Thomas, the younger, was governor of the castle of Brechin, the only fortress to successfully interrupt the conquests of the English King Edward I. Though interrupted, Thomas was mortally wounded during a siege of the castle in the First War of Scottish Independence after holding out for 20 days. Sir William Maule, while serving as sheriff of Forfarshire (Angus) during this time, swore fealty to Edward I on 10 July 1292 at St. Andrews, preserving the claim to the barony subject to the English crown. 

William’s descendants hold the Barony of Panmure until 1715, when James, 4th Earl of Panmure forfeits his title after his arrest at the Battle of Sheriffmuir and exile to France due to his support of James Francis Edward Prince of Wales who unsuccessfully attempted to claim the Crown in the “fifteen” Jacobite Rising. James Maule was twice offered after attainder of Parliament restoration of his land and title, but declined, maintaining his support for James, Prince of Wales until his death in Paris in 1723.

It wasn’t until 1831 that the Barony was reclaimed by a direct descendant of George Maule, 2nd Earl of Panmure. William Maule was a Scottish politician and member of Parliament in 1796 and again between 1805 and 1831. William’s original surname had been Ramsay, as the son of George Ramsay, 8th Earl of Dalhousie and Elizabeth Glen, but in 1782 he succeeded to the Maule estates on the death of his great-uncle General William Maule, 1st Earl Panmure (Peerage of Ireland), and assumed by Royal licence the same year the additional surname and arms of Maule.

NPG 2537; Fox Maule-Ramsay, 2nd Baron Panmure and 11th Earl of Dalhousie by Thomas Duncan

Fox Maule-Ramsey, 2nd and final Baron of Panmure, and 11th Earl of Dalhousie – Wikipedia Commons

William Maule had nine children with his first wife, Patricia Heron Gordon, including his first son, Fox Maule-Ramsay, who inherited the title of Baron Panmure in 1852. Fox served as the Secretary of State for War under Queen Victoria from 1855 – 1858, but died childless in 1874, and the Barony of Panmure became extinct. William’s second son, Lt. Col. Hon. Lauderdale Maule, followed in his father’s footsteps also serving as Member of Parliament for Forfarshire, from 1852–1854. Never married, Lauderdale died in Constantinople in 1854 after contracting cholera at the British camp at Varna, during the Crimean War.

Other significant “Maules” in this line traced back to William the Conqueror include Patrick Maule, b. 1585, father of George, 2nd Earl of Panmure. Patrick accompanied James VI, King of the Scots, into England in 1603 as a “gentleman of the bedchamber” to that monarch. He held the same office under Charles I, who appointed him keeper of the palace and park of Eltham Palace, and sheriff of County Forfar. King Charles I held Patrick in such high regard that he was elevated on 3 August 1646 as Baron Maule of Brechin and Navar, and Earl of Panmure. Patrick Maule married three times, but his title passed to his first son from his first wife, George, mentioned earlier.

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Eltham Palace, engraved by Peter Stent, as it appeared about 1653 – English Heritage

Not much is known about his children from the other two wives as Patrick’s first son George inherited his issue, as did George’s descendants. Looking at frequencies of more common surname variants of Maule, the surname “Maul” only begins appearing in English and Scottish records after 1600. One theory is that upon accompanying James VI to England, and his subsequent residency as keeper of Eltham Palace, it is likely the “e” was dropped by one of the offspring by his second or third wife and gave rise to the Maul phonetic variant (minus the “E”) from which our line of ancestors are descended. Of variant Maule surnames, “Maul” only represents 8% of the total between 1600 and 1699, 35% (highest percentage of all variants) between 1700 and 1799, 26.5% between 1800 and 1850, and way back down to 7.5% between 1850 and 1900. The last known Maul we can trace our family history back to without interruption is buried in London and died in the late 19th century.

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Scene 52 from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting mounted Norman soldiers attacking Anglo-Saxons at the 1066 Battle of Hastings – Wikipedia Commons

While it’s impossible to know for sure what line we come from, it is likely that the common ancestor of all Mauls, Maules, and Maulls (the only three remaining phonetic variants) probably descend from the one and only Guarin, son of Peter, brother of Ansold of Maule, born in the town and lordship of Maule, Île-de-France, in the year 1047. It’s also entirely possible that the phonetic variation “Maul” is from an earlier or later second or third marriage branched from the original Maules of Panmure, a subsequent immigration of Maules from France, or a confused spelling of another name entirely. We can rule out the Mauls and Maules that emigrated to the United States and elsewhere prior to the 20th Century if only because none of the confirmed ancestors of Mauls in the known family tree are thought to have come from outside the UK. One thing is for sure, however, and that is tracing your family back from the present is probably much more straightforward than focusing on the theory of a shared common ancestor.

A primary source for this post and a great suggestion for further research into family history of British or Scottish origin includes the invaluable reference by John Burke (1832), A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, published by H. Colburn and R. Bentley, Baronetage, London. Another source is the now defunct Maule Family History webpage found at maulefamily.com, not updated since the year 2000. Of particular interest are the biographical notes on outstanding and interesting Maules of the past thousand years, as well as the previously mentioned statistics on phonetic variations of the family name. Many sources also reference as a starting point the three-volume work by Wilhelmina, Duchess of Cleveland (1819–1901), published in 1889, entitled The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. This text is cited extensively in the 1066 Project, especially references to Ansold, father of Peter Lord of Maule, and excerpts of which are available on the New Zealand based web page 1066.co.nz. Wikipedia is also an excellent source for additional references for genealogical research, as are the articles compiled for various noteworthy family members. Analyzing the degrees of separation between articles can also be helpful in tracing origins.

The Mauls, Maules, and Maulls of 2017 are spread worldwide, and according to the genealogy research engine forebears.io, population clusters exist in some quite unexpected places. Mauls are most prevalent in Germany, the United States, and Russia, with approximately 18,000 people worldwide having this variant of the surname. The English Mauls number just 183, continuing the downward trend mentioned earlier when the they were once the most common phonetic variant in the 18th century. Maules are even less common with just under 12,000 people clustered in India, the United States, Italy, and England.

While our origins may be uncertain, the history of the family name is full of exciting adventures worth volumes of dedicated research. This post only offers a glimpse into the past thousand years, since the Norman Conquest. What will the next thousand years bring? The only thing I know for sure is that as far as my branch goes, I’m the last in line. No pressure.

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How My 2016 New Years Resolution Had a “Trickle-Down Effect”

For the entire 2016 calendar year, I committed myself to the next step in becoming more of a minimalist. In order to accomplish this, I made a New Year’s Resolution to not buy any clothes for an entire year. I had many fashionista friends tell me I’m crazy and that it’s a terrible idea, but I stayed strong and wanted to share my journey through the process.

Here are the main reasons why I took on this challenge:

  • I have too many clothes (still do!).  The truth is that I wear my favorite items over and over again and I don’t wear the other non-favorites. Inspired by Mari Kondo, I’d like to get rid of those clothes that don’t actually give me joy. I used every move that we had in 2016 to pare down my wardrobe and gift clothes to friends and friends of friends.
  • I don’t actually need that many clothes. We have a 6-kilo sized washing machine and no clothing dryer. That means that we do laundry almost every other day and it’s easier to have less clothes and keep wearing them over and over again.
  • Returning to Europe and the States for vacations awakens my fashion bargain hunting gene and often causes me to buy things that I love but don’t need. Outlet malls, sales, abundance of choice, and even second hand clothing stores cause me to go overboard while I’m in the States because of the amazing prices.
  • The fashion industry is usually not run sustainably or fairly and one of the reasons that it still exists despite the injustice is because people keep buying new clothes during every season.

Here were my parameters:

  • No buying new clothing.
  • Clothes that no longer fit or are tearing, fraying, etc, can be taken to a tailor to fix.
  • Clothing swaps with friends are permitted as long as I leave the swap with less clothing than I came with.
  • The only exceptions to the no buying clothes rule are: underwear and undergarments such as socks, water-resistant hiking trousers since I don’t have a pair (but didn’t shop for them in the right season when I went to the States for Christmas), and Ukrainian handmade clothes. We were in Ukraine for one week during the summer and I don’t know when we’ll be back again.
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    This is one of the beautiful hand-embroidered Ukrainian dresses that I bought while we were in Ukraine this summer.  It made a perfect look for the first day of school!

    I find Ukrainian handmade clothes to be some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing in the world. At first I allowed myself to buy one piece for a christening, but I allowed myself the
    indulgence of 2 more additional pieces, and Mr. Maul was such a good sport while I shopped. These were the only 3 pieces of clothing that I bought for an entire year.

How did it go?  Well, I’ve really loved to take on the challenge for the following reasons:

  •  It made our summer European vacation so pleasant. My tendency to salivate over European fashion throughout Italy, Belgium, and Paris was been refined to window shopping while walking on the streets, only going into Naf Naf once to look at cute clothes, and generally staying more present with hubby and other friends (which I’m sure especially the guys appreciated.)
  • Before moving to House #3 in June of 2016, I downsized by three bags of clothing and had a little clothing swap with two friends of similar sizing. From the swap, I gained some nice additions my wardrobe, and know that the surplus of our swap is getting taken to other ladies of similar size who might appreciate some fun additions to their wardrobe.
  • I have had countless amounts of things tailored that I myself could never sew, and as a result, my clothes fit better! Some of the items that I happened to take to the tailor are: a favorite second-hand pair of jeans that I was putting off hemming which now look much better, three different dresses which have all needed tucks for modesty’s sake, several hand-me-down t-shirts that were the wrong size but I love them, a very nice Lululemon collared shirt which now looks quite tailored, a skirt that needed a lining, zipper and clasp added to it, and a sweater that had a specific type of fancy buttons but had at least three of them fall off. The tailor was able to match the style of button at the market and then replace the entire set of buttons.

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Yes, I was wearing this down jacket in JUNE in Brussels!  Here I am with my friend Ryna, whom I had not seen for 5 years until we hung out this summer.

The one splurge that I made that was not a stated exception was to order a packable down jacket from REI that was 50% off. So, I guess if you count that, I did have my “cheating”.

All-in-all, the last 12 months have taught me that God has abundantly supplied my clothing needs and I don’t need to go wild twice a year when I go back to Europe or the States. To acknowledge what I have and recognize that it is still more than enough, to try to gift from my surplus, and to exercise self-control, have all been so helpful and beneficial to me this year. Probably the biggest trickle-down effect that this resolution had for me was that we seemed to spend less money throughout our entire budget, just by limiting our consumer intake in one area.  This gave us more to spend on our ultimate favorite yearly budget expense: TRAVEL!

 

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Кума

Alicia signs to officially become a Godmother

Today has confirmed that family runs deeper than blood and it has been my utmost honor to become Godmother to sweet baby Oleksa, who happens to be the son of one of my best friends, Oksana, and her husband Andriy. From this day forward, I am also responsible for being present in a little one’s life!

As a Protestant, I didn’t grow up with any godparents, but had many people in several different churches take an interest in my life and guide me in the Way. So the opportunity for me to become a godparent is very humbling, flattering, and was a cause of great happiness for me when I agreed to accept the responsibility.

When ATeam was in our European Adventure planning phase in January 2016, I got a delightful email from Oksana asking me to be the Godmother to Oleksa. Actually, the email stirred up several emotions and I was happy to tell many people that I’ll be a godmother, but I was so overwhelmed with joy and humility that I usually did so with many tears in my eyes. Not that anyone who knows me well would expect any less! Drew got right on planning for a week in Ukraine in the middle of our Italy month and we made our way through Kiev via Amsterdam over the weekend, took a train to Lviv, then to Zolochiv yesterday.

Alicia and Pavlo, Godmother and Godfather

The baptism was held in a beautiful wooden Greek Catholic Church in Zolochiv. In fact, it is the very day and church where Oksana and Andriy were married 3 years ago! What a trip down memory lane this brought for ATeam, and how nostalgic I was when we checked into the exact same hotel that we had stayed in for their wedding.

Many of the traditions and words that were said went over my head and I did not understand most of the service. The family was asked to enter the church and Pavlo (godfather) and I stood inside near the entrance to the church, each holding a крижма, or a piece of cloth to hold the baby with. Pavlo held Oleksa first and the priest anointed his chest, foot, hand, back, and head with oil. Oleksa then came to me and he was annointed with oil in my arms. Around this time, poor baby got a little fussy and rightly so! The three of us turned away from the church to face the entrance which we came from and we promised (I believe/hope, since I didn’t really understand;) that we would uphold Oleksa in the Way and be present in his life.

Godparents and baby Olekca

Once we turned around, we entered the main section of the church and stood in front of the altar. Oksana joined us to try and keep Oleksa’s spirits up. Pavlo and I held him as the priest sprinkled water on Oleksa’s head three times, and the крижма proved useful for wiping him off! Of course, poor baby needed mommy after that, so after a pass-off to the priest, she held him for the remainder of the service. Pavlo and I were also given candles which we held for a majority of the time.

Priest with parents and Godparents

After being baptized, Oksana took Oleksa to the same place she knelt during her wedding and the priest sprinkled water on both of them together. Then the priest walked around a separate altar with Oleksa and bowed him towards the relic there three times. Somewhere in there, I’m sure there was also a homily, and the service was ended with all of us singing мно гаяа лето, which I actually knew since we used to sing it on birthdays with our students when I worked as a music teacher in Ukraine! I was happy to at least be able to sing something in the service!

After the christening, we all enjoyed pictures and a lunch. ATeam’s current home-base is Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Andriy, Oksana, and Oleksa currently reside in Penang, Malaysia. It’s certain that I won’t make it to every birthday, but regardless of that fact, I will be Oleksa’s Godmother and I will love him, pray for him, and be as present as possible in his journey through life. Most important of all: we entered the church as friends and we came out as family.

Best friends turned sisters!

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1 Year 

Alicia at the Oboe Bar in Mons, Belgium

Roughly 1 year ago today, the PashbyMauls were packing up all of our household items in Vicenza, Italy, shipping them to various parts of the world, and graciously letting go of as many things as we could. This past year marked our biggest life transition since we were married and began Life Together. Since our move to Uzbekistan, Drew has been the one to keep up our blog, even if less frequent then when we were in Italy. Considering that the last day of school for teachers was Friday, now seems the perfect time for me to resume blogging. I’d like to give you a picture of our year from June 2015-June 2016.

1 Year of Travel: Of course, this is probably one of the most significant parts of our life because it’s one of the main reasons we want to live and work as expats. We enjoyed travel to:

  • June-July 2015: Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts and Maine (the last 2 were girls weekends without Drew.)
  • August 2015: MOVE to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
  • October 2015: Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  • November 2015: Seoul, South Korea for the Association of Music in International Schools Conference. 
  • December 2015: Michigan, Georgia (state not the country).
  • January 2016: 5-day New Years cruise with Drew’s extended paternal family from Tampa, FL to Costa Maya and Cozamel Mexico. (This marked Alicia’s first trip to Mexico!)
  • February 2016: Navoi, Uzbekistan for a friend’s birthday celebration. 
  • March 2016: Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand, Uzbekistan with Mike, our ever faithful travel partner, who is now known in Casa di Maul as “the one who came to Uzbekistan.”

One note about travel: we’ve found very quickly that flying from Tashkent to the US is a very long, very expensive journey. We’ve decided to skip the States this summer and take refuge in various friend’s flats in Europe and enjoy vacations together. 

1 Year of Moving and Housing adventures: We certainly didn’t have the easiest transition when it came to our housing search. This can be partially blamed on the fact that we had romanticized my beautiful flat and city life that I had while living in Kiev from 2009-2013. I lived in a gorgeous top floor apartment overlooking St. Sofia’s cathedral. While we were dating, Drew used to come to Kiev for weekend getaways and we really enjoyed being in the middle of everything. Because of our idealistic opinions, we ended up looking more at flats than houses. From the beginning, this was a challenge because many people were not interested in renting to tenants with cats. We finally settled into a newly renovated 60 m2 apartment and were happy to live in a small space and ultimately try to live a more minimalist lifestyle. Our enjoyment of Flat #1 dissolved very soon as the reality of carrying bikes up and down the stairs (when we were brave enough to ride in traffic), the upstairs neighbors with the children who ran around like elephants and played the piano while we were trying to have quiet time, and the shower that was not installed properly and could never drain fully and was therefore leaking onto the neighbor underneath us, was enough of a perfect storm for us to begin another housing search. We lived on floor four of our Soviet style block apartment building for 6 months, from August 2015-January 2016.

Enter house #2: For 3 short months, all was right with the world as we found a beautiful European-style 1-bedroom 1-story house with a small office/guest room space for Drew to study in, and a lovely spacious kitchen which we loved entertaining in, and a beautiful, almost palatial great room/living room. The floors were natural gorgeous hard wood and tile, the walls were surprisingly neutral, and we had a garden for the cat to run around in that was protected by a wall high enough to ensure that he did not get into the street. The garden also had trees from Crimea, so I felt my Ukraine connection there. Finally, we were able to put up all of our artwork and family pictures. (We couldn’t do this in the flat because the wallpaper was new and we didn’t want to mess it up since we figured out pretty quickly that we would not stay there long.) We were so thrilled with our increased quality of life that we decided we would go ahead and stay in Tashkent for 3 full years instead of 2! Unfortunately, at the beginning of May, our landlord informed us that he wanted to sell the house and we would need to move out. The month of May was crazy enough with the term coming to an end, but it became even worse with yet another housing search. We lived in our gorgeous European style house from February-May 2016.

Enter House #3: By now, we have come to understand realty in Tashkent a little better and worked with 4 different realtors to find a house. The process was just as frustrating as ever, but we were so happy to have found the house we currently live in. It is a small four-room house with a beautiful garden and filtered pool in the backyard. Not everyone uses filters here, so we were very happy to have it! The house also has plum, persimmon, and apricot trees. We are especially glad to have the extended yard space in the back and the pool, as well as hardwood floors throughout the house and neutral walls. We will finish hanging our artwork when we return to Tashkent in August. The house predates the earthquake and has an old-world charm to it, as does the new neighborhood. We are so happy to have found the house and get settled there. The poetic irony of this house is that we had seen it in August 2015 when we first arrived but didn’t want to take it because it was over our budget, and we were afraid of additional pool maintenance costs. We also felt that it was too far from the school for commuting. Now that we’ve been here 10 months, we realize that we are close the the ring road, so there is basically a straight-shot to get to the school by taxi. And our initial hesitation towards a pool evaporated in the 40-degree (that’s 100-degree) weather. Finally, our landlady agreed to drop the price to within our budget. We moved into this pleasant house on 31 May 2016 and we plan to stay until June 2018, when our contracts are finished!

1 Year of Professional Development: I had so much PD this year that I am not bothering to do anything in the summer! Half of these opportunities were funded personally, and half by the school. This year saw me study the following things:

  • July 2015: Conversational Solfege Level 1 Certificate at Gordon College in Wenham, MA. This was a life-altering workshop and it can be assumed that I have drunk the koolaide and would like to go all the way with FAME training in the future. 
  • November 2015: I attended the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) conference in Seoul, South Korea.
  • January-March 2016: I took and online course in order to renew my teaching certificate for the State of MI. It was called Reading Diagnostics and it was a lot of work! One of the requirements was to work with a reading needs ELL student to complete assignments each week. I could write an entire blog post about how ridiculous it is to require underpaid teachers in the State of MI to take yet another graduate level course they doesn’t actually have a lot to do with their subject discipline, but there’s no point in harboring bitterness, and I am very glad to have my Professional Certificate valid until 2021. Why bother keeping up a certificate in MI, you ask? Well, most international schools will be expecting an up-to-date teaching credential, even if I have never taught in MI, so it’s within my best interest to keep it valid!
  • Some exciting news for the next school year is that I will be moving up in ages. I’m currently teaching Preschool-Grade 1, ages 3-11, in the IBO PYP. Next year I’ll be teaching Grades 2-8, ages 7-14, in the IBO PYP and MYP. Because of this change, I needed to take yet another online course: Arts in the MYP.

A year of role reversals: For the first 2 years of Life Together, Drew had the full time job in our family. Our move to Tashkent showed a vocational 180 as I became the full time worker. We moved from the full time job of 9-5, leaving work at work, to a different kind of full time: 7:30-4:30+, extra weekend events, extra weekend and weeknight planning and marking, it’s inevitable that work will be brought home. This was initially quite the strain on our still newly married life. We made it work by hiring a housekeeper to help us with our house cleaning tasks, and by cooking a lot of things in the slow-cooker, and by in general “keeping on.” One things for sure, life is a constant transition, especially in this expat lifestyle, and we certainly had enough transitions for one year!

A year of remembering Russian: when we got off the plane in Tashkent in August, I had no idea what people were saying. Since I had studied Russian for 3 years, this was very upsetting. Even worse was when Drew would ask me to translate and I would really have no idea. It took 2 weeks for my ears to get adjusted and I’ve found a wonderful teacher who I study with every week. I would put myself at an intermediate level, but my dear teacher, bless her heart, thinks I’m more advanced than that. As for Drew, he studied enough to get by but has put his Russian language acquisition on hold as he was swamped with his classes for his Masters this term. 

A year of looking forward: the PashbyMauls are always getting excited about our next trip. Some days, the only thing keeping us going was the knowledge that we would be spending 51 days in Europe together. Now that we’re here, we’ll put looking forward on hold an enjoy every single moment, glass of wine, and fresh European meal, with gratitude and pleasure. 

begining our epic eurotrip on Turkish Airlines

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Khast Imam Complex – Tashkent

madrassa dome

Barak-khan Madrasah

It’s hard to find “old” Tashkent, but seeking it out is certainly worth the effort. 50 years ago, an earthquake damaged the city, and opportunistic Soviet planners used the seismic event (described in various magnitudes depending on the source) as an excuse to bulldoze the old town and build a social modernist utopia. Today, wide avenues and massive concrete apartment blocks dominate the landscape. Finding authentic Uzbekistan in post-soviet Tashkent is therefore a challenge – one that should ultimately bring you to the Khast Imam Architectural Complex.

Architectural authenticity in Uzbekistan comes with an important caveat. Recent renovations of nearly every historically significant building in the country have left them looking better than they ever were. After centuries of exposure to the harsh elements of Central Asia, the neglect of the Soviet Era, and the passage of time, a newly independent Uzbekistan took great, and swift, efforts to preserve their architectural heritage. The facades and interiors you see today reflect this, so excursions further afield than old Tashkent are required to find ancient structures in their original condition.

mosque and trees

Park-like Khast Imam Square

The Khast Imam Complex can be found on the north side of Tashkent. Getting there by taxi is recommended, but it can be easily reached on foot from Chorsu Bazar, or by Metro, about 2km distance. The trek between Chorsu and the complex feels as if you are going back in time as you get lost among the historic mudbrick homes and narrow streets of Old Tashkent that were fortunate enough to escape post-earthquake Soviet planners’ utopian ambitions.

An approach from any direction will feature the impressive rise of the twin 53m (175ft) minarets of the Khazrati Imam Mosque. Built in 2007, the mosque, while not at all historically significant, dominates the square with its massive facade, and two blue domes.

Across the square is the 16th century Barak-khan Madrasah. Built by the grandson of Mirzo Ulugbek, today cells formerly occupied by students feature local artisans selling their handicrafts to the occasional tourist. On any visit to the Khast Imam complex, a short shopping excursion to this historic gift shop provides a welcome respite from the brutal heat of the relentless Uzbek summer sun.

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One of the twin 53m minarets

Additional landmarks of the square include the 16th century tomb of Abu Bakr al-Kaffal ash-Shashi. Said to be one of the greatest muslim scholars of all time, Kaffal-Shashi was deeply devoted to the faith, and dedicated his entire life to the spread of Islam, and religious education. In his extensive travels throughout the muslim world, he was a student of  great theologians including the Imam Al-Bukhari. When Kaffal-Shashi died in the 10th century, he was buried at the city wall of old Tashkent in a mausoleum which did not survive. The present 16th century structure became a pilgrimage destination for the devout, and is today one of the most important historical landmarks of modern Tashkent.

The remainder of the grounds of this park-like complex are occupied by various state-sponsored religious institutions, including the library of the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan, where the Koran of Khalif Uthman, the world’s oldest copy, which is said to date from the 7th century, is kept for study and safekeeping.

While impressive, the Khast Imam Complex of Tashkent is no substitute for the ancient silk road cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara. However, since nearly every trip to Uzbekistan begins and ends in the capital city, this major architectural complex deserves a visit either as an introduction of things to come, or a last taste of Uzbek heritage on your way out.

moon mosque

Blue domes and blue sky! A perfect alignment, with birds, and the moon, captured via telephoto in March 2016.

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Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진수산시장)

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Gallery level view of Noryangjin

Some may call it an aquarium of death, others a seafood lover’s paradise. Whatever your inclination, a visit to Seoul’s Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is a one of a kind experience you won’t soon forget.

PashbyMaul Adventures was in Seoul for a conference last November, and with precious little free time explore the city, we had to pick and choose what highlights to see. While we always strive to stay off the tourist trail as much as possible, on our maiden voyage to South Korea we simply had to cram in what we could. As Uzbek residents for the next few years, seafood is something we rarely get to enjoy anymore. Thus Noryanjin Fish Market made the cut, and on our final evening in Korea we gleefully made our way towards the market via the expansive Seoul Metropolitan Subway.

Frequent visitors to fish markets worldwide understand the certain fishy atmosphere that seems to rather unpleasantly permeate everything in the vicinity. Not so at Noryanjin. Established in 1927, and moved to its current location in 1971, the fishiness in the air as you approach the market is in no way unpleasant, and instead serves as a kind of beacon for the curious and hungry alike as they make their way up the stairs from the metro and across the pedestrian bridge over the station before descending into seafood heaven.

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an enthusiastic fishmonger

Your first glimpse of the vastness of the market takes place as you emerge from a nondescript concrete stairwell. From this gallery level perspective the expansiveness of Noryanjin becomes clear. There isn’t really a way to plan a strategy as a one time visitor, but with this perspective you can at least appreciate the kaleidoscope like tapestry of sea creatures carefully arranged by fishmongers in their front row stalls that stretch nearly the entire length of the 300 meter building.

It doesn’t get much fresher than this. Stalls keep their catch alive until the moment it is sold to the customer. Many serve up fresh sashimi, or hoe (회), sliced right from the fish. Not a fan of raw seafood? No problem! Crabs, shrimp, lobster, shellfish – it’s all available – and waiting to cook it all up for you are several eat-in kitchens lining the back of the market. For a small fee, customers can take their “catch” to any of these restaurants for what might just be one of the freshest seafood experiences of your life. Chopsticks, water, and banchan (반찬) side dishes are included. Soju (소주) and beer are not.

Your authenticity meter will surely peak during a trip to Noryangjin. Sorry Seattle, but your Pike Place Market has nothing on this. For true lovers of seafood, a missed trip to this market on any trip to Seoul, no matter what the duration, is a missed opportunity you’re sure to regret.

 

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PashbyMaul Adventures – Update

It’s been six months since our last post. An epic failure on our part to keep our followers updated on life in Uzbekistan. This time last year, we were nearing the end of our “Last 100 Days in Italy” series, as we prepared to continue the great PashbyMaul adventure in Central Asia. Here’s what you’ve missed:

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Gyeongbokgung Palace – Seoul

Shortly after our last update on the October trip to Samarkand, the PashbyMauls took a short trip to South Korea. Compared to Uzbekistan, we were amazed by the futuristic level of advanced technological infrastructure in Seoul, and of course ate as much seafood as we could get our chopsticks on. We won’t soon forget our luxurious stay at the ultra modern Courtyard Marriott Seoul-Pangyo where we experienced the best of international style Korean hospitality. We can’t wait to go back for more!

Our winter holiday travels saw us experience our first flight on the post-soviet Aeroflot Russian Airlines and the still draconian transfer experience that is Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport. Contrast that to the ultra efficient semi-automated arrivals process at JFK airport and the Delta flagship lounge experience of terminal-4. One thing we did learn is that an Uzbekistan to USA flight itinerary is a completely exhausting experience we do not wish to repeat anytime soon.

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13th Century Shahimardan Shrine in Gazgan Village, Nurata Region

Christmas was spent in Midland, Michigan, followed by a brief stop in Athens, Georgia, before embarking on a five-day Mexican Riveria New Year’s cruise from Tampa, Florida. In addition to relaxation, and exploration of Mayan Ruins, we were able to reconnect with family who are the majority of the time literally half a world away. By the time we arrived back in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, it became crystal clear how far away we really are living in Central Asia.

In February we had the privilege of being hosted by an Uzbek family in Navoi for a quick weekend getaway, and got to experience a side of Uzbekistan well off the typical tourist trail. We joined a family outing to Nurata, clambered all over a hill fortress of Alexander the Great, and participated in a blessing at the ancient shrine of Shahimardan, in Gazgan, city of stone. Our hosts also graciously drove us to and from the Samarkand train station, while en-route, we were stopped by the police no fewer than three times!

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local children on the streets of Khiva

Our Spring Break adventure we’ll detail more thoroughly in a separate post – but it involves our best travel companion, Mike, who flew all the way from Belgium to visit us. We flew Uzbekistan Airways to Urgench, Karakalpakstan, explored the silk road cities of Khiva, Bukharah and Samarkand, and drove deep into the desert to witness the Golden Ring of Ancient Khorezm.

More to follow… but if you can’t wait, and want to check out some of our photography, feel free to view our instagram feed at instagram.com/pmtravels

 

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