The Five Stans of the Silk Road (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan); five former Soviet republics of Central Asia with a wealth of culture and history. The Silk Road a major trading route connected Muslim lands with the people of Europe, India and China. I found the people to be very welcoming, open to outsiders and easy to photograph. There is a huge Soviet influence which is still very evident in the language, the abundant block style apartment buildings and extensive growth of cotton. The countries are predominantly Muslim but very open to other faiths. There was a separation of religion and state; no obvious call to prayers or women in hijabs. It was rich with historical architecture, with higher learning (philosophers, astronomers, scientists etc.) and natural resources like oil. It was predominantly a nomadic culture until the Soviets began building cities in the 1900’s. Mosques, textiles and weddings abound.