Hi everyone! How are you? I’m still alive in Bishkek!
I am sorry that it has been already 2 months since I wrote my last entry. I wish I had written more often, but it has been very busy for me traveling around and couldn’t get my hands on my blog til now.
My travel life has been quite eventful and satisfying during the 3 months that I have stayed in Central Asia. I arrived in Bishkek on August 10 when it was still blazing hot outside, but yesterday (Nov. 3) when I arrived back from Uzbekistan the whole city was covered in snow.
Who expected that I would stay here for such a long time…My excuse is that there are so many beautiful places to see in this part of the world. I will briefly sum up my journey in this post so that you can take a look at it before I publish a detailed post who knows when.
In Kyrgyzstan which I stayed for 1 month and half in the beginning, I spent a lot of time out in the nature. I did many hikes in the mountains, not just because there isn’t anything else to do but that’s the best thing you can do.
The most memorable hike was in Karakul National Park, where I started a 3 day hike on my own. On the first night I made friends with a Latvian father and son traveling together. They kept me company in the mountain yurt and we talked about various things over the fire. The next day, I met 5 guys from Czech and together hiked to the mountain lake located at 3800m. To me, without the encounters with these wonderful friends, my stay in Kyrgyzstan wouldn’t have been the same.
Kyrgyzstan continued to amaze me with the variety of nature it offered, from desert canyons to salty lakes.
After spending over a month in Kyrgyzstan, I lifted myself up from the cozy home of the couchsurfing host Jahangir and hitchhiked over 500 km to Tajikistan. With a sketchy incident while hitchhiking towards there, I was not very excited with my journey. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised with the beautiful scenery of Lake Karakul, my first destination in Tajikistan. The altitude of the lake and its small village was 4000m. Everything was covered in different shades of white making the place look heaven like.
In the Pamirs, I fell in love with the local people who showed me deep hospitality and kindness. Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. The Pamir region lacked electricity and running water. Life seemed very hard, as I could imagine from the deep wrinkles of the men and women. However they were extremely kind. I was always invited for tea and meals when walking the countryside by myself. I would not order a breakfast or dinner at home stays to cut my budget, but often at meal time the family would knock on my door to deliver a warm plate of food to me. I was deeply touched by their kindness.
In the Wakhan valley, I met a Belgian traveler who came from home with his car. I got along with him and soon started to travel together.
Because of him, I was able to take the time to camp along the valley overlooking the Afghan villages on the other side. For about a total of a week, I traveled on the border (which is just a river) with Afghanistan. I was breath taken by the beauty of these mountain villages. People lived in small clay huts with a stash of dried hay piled up for animals during winter. It was as if I traveled through time. Just about a month after I left, the area was struck by a big earthquake. I thought again and again about the friendly villagers who waved to me from the other side.
After traveling in Tajikistan for 3 weeks, I returned to Bishkek to renew my visa and from there took a short trip to visit Almaty in Kazakhstan. In Almaty, I met a Japanese architect by coincidence. He was a person who studied under one of the most famous architect in Japan and had built important buildings such as the airport and stadium in Kazakhstan and Russia. He lived in the country for over 15 years and was married to a local woman. He kindly invited me and my friend to an excellent sushi dinner and then offered to host us in his downtown office.
In Almaty, I completely felt at home because of the cozy apartment and all kinds of western luxury I found in the city. Things such as coffee shops, shopping centers and fast food restaurants are something you really appreciate after being on the road for too long.
After separating with my Belgian friend, I hopped on the night train towards my last destination in Central Asia, Uzbekistan. It is one of the countries which I have always wanted to go. The fine Islamic architecture and the exotic looking people fascinated me. My very first day started out quite rough with bad weather which eventually turned into the first snow of the year. Unfortunately, I caught a bad cold and was sick for the whole 2 weeks in Uzbekistan.
I managed to see all the tourist sites there, but found it quite different from what I have expected. The difference between the old city where tourists stayed and the new city where locals lived was so steep that it made me feel as if I were in Disneyland. Judging by the view from long trains and taxi rides, it seemed that other than the Disneyland part, there was absolutely nothing to see in this vast country. Nonetheless I did enjoy the touristic places. Some say that the sites are less impressing than the ones in Iran from the same empire, and I agree with that. However, I appreciated the fact that there was not much hassle and I could walk freely without any stress.
After 3 months in Central Asia, I felt that I needed to make a change in the environment so I decided to fly to India. There is a cheap flight from Bishkek and the infamous visa procedure took me less than a week. My flight is tomorrow on November 5th. I am both excited and terrified at the same time. I am sure that I will soon miss the quietness and emptiness of Central Asia. I find nowhere as peaceful as this part of the world.
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