Like most people, before reading this book, I didn't just not know where Tuva was, I didn't even know it existed (although I'm sure Olga knows all about Tuva)! So you know, it is in Siberia, north of Mongolia. Basically, it's in the center of Asia.
I believe this is Tuva's answer to Hagg Lake's Men in Skirts competition.
The book basically revolves around the trials and tribulations of Leighton, Richard Feynman, and Glen Cowan as they try for nearly a decade to come up with every way possible to get to Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva. (The book takes place in the 1980s, when the USSR was alive and kicking hard, and this was also during the cold war. Both of these facts made travel to Kyzyl extremely difficult, and definitely added to their increasing excitement.) Why do they want to go to Kyzyl? Because it's spelled so cool - there are no normal vowels in it, so who wouldn't want to go!?
During their adventures, Leighton also thought it would be cool to loosely form the Friends of Tuva. But, as stated on the website: "Because FoT is a brainchild of Ralph Leighton, it is impossible that it could even resemble an organization. Rather, it has been a clearinghouse of information about Tuva and its "patron saint," Richard Feynman, who collected Tuvan stamps as a boy — and as an adult wondered, "Whatever happenedtoTannu Tuva?""
Check out the website, read the book, research Richard Feynman, find Tuva on a map, listen to some authentic Tuvan throat-singing music. It's pretty cool.
I would say Tuva is now on my list of places to visit, and I now definitely consider myself to be a Friends of Tuva member. Also, on your blogger profile if you list Tuva as your country, you'll soon find some funky Russian e-mails in your spam mailbox. What's not cool about that?