“So, how’s China?” some of our readers have asked. We thought a fitting way to begin to answer this question would be through the lens of the ubiquitous greeting, “Welcome to China!” So far, we have received two distinct types of welcomes into the country — one that comes from the heart and the other that comes from the pocketbook. Continue Reading »
Having just uncorked our first bottle of Chinese wine, we began to reminisce about the small, lovely and affordable French wine collection we’d built in Prague (then quickly quaffed), thanks to the Salon de Vignerons Independants (French Independent Vintners Festival) that we attended in February 2005 and February 2006 in Strasbourg, France.
In addition to tasting over 300 different wines at those two events, we returned home with a small cache of 100 bottles. The taste and quality of the bottles we purchased belied the fact that most of them cost well under 10 Euros. We could continue our little daydream here, but we’ll leave you to read this article that we wrote about the Salon earlier this year.
Now, back to our current reality… Continue Reading »
As the end of our Tajik visas rapidly approached (overstaying one’s visa in Tajikistan comes highly unrecommended), circumstances forced us to take a puddle-jumping lunch box with wings from Khorog, the main town in Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains, to the country’s capital Dushanbe.
The following is a two minute video from the flight. The first 30 seconds are from the taxi and takeoff of the previous day’s flight. The next 90 seconds are mid-air. Keep in mind that the camera was not on zoom. Continue Reading »
So we went a little nuts with photos in Kyrgyzstan. But we have an excuse. We were there for over a month – tracking down militsia (OVIR, to those familiar) to renew our visas, getting stuck in snowstorms, meeting old friends and collecting new ones, freezing to bits while taking in stunning scenery and enjoying some unbelievably kind hospitality.
Here’s our latest installment of photo essays: Continue Reading »
While in Bishkek, we visited Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyzstan bureau where they report and broadcast under the name Radio Azattyk. During our visit, we were asked for an interview regarding our travels, why we are taking this journey, and more specifically our observations thus far of Central Asia. Continue Reading »
Our travels in Kyrgyzstan overlapped with Ramadan this year (13 September – 12 October). For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of fasting, reflection and renewal. While the majority of Kyrgyzstan’s Muslims do not appear to strictly adhere to the fasting requirements of the holiday, it still plays an important role in the country’s social and cultural landscape. The timing of our visit there offered us a unique window of insight into Kyrgyz culture…and a few challenging moments of discomfort.
We had just completed a beautiful two day journey on horseback and arrived on the shores of Song Kul Lake. Within 15 minutes of dismounting our horses, our horse trekking guide quickly switched gears. In what appeared to be an honor for him as a newly arrived guest, he was given the task of gutting a goat for the evening feast. Continue Reading »
Though you might think that each day on a journey like this is blessed by beautiful fairy tale scenery, gourmet ethnic food, impeccable accommodation, comfortable transport and the best that humanity has to offer, the reality is often different. We thought it might be interesting to share what a “perfect day” looks and feels like to us.
While waiting to extend our Kyrgyz visa in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, we opted for a getaway to Manzhyly, a shepherd’s outpost on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, the second-largest alpine lake in the world. Continue Reading »
Ashgabat has been adorned by many beautiful buildings, which made unique architectural ensemble.
– A quote on the reverse side of an “official” postcard of the main drama theater named after Turkmenbashi.
One part Las Vegas, another part Pyong Yang, Ashgabat springs up out of the middle of nowhere in the Turkmen desert. You wonder how and you wonder why. Continue Reading »
No less idiosyncratic than its architecture, Turkmenistan’s laws are the stuff of laughter and legend. Though locals may plead ignorance or flat out deny that some of these laws ever existed, here’s what we discovered about some of the more notable whacky entries conjured up by the former president, Sapmurat Niyazov (otherwise known as Turkmenbashi, Leader of all Turkmens).
What’s true and what’s Turkmenbashi urban myth? Here’s the scoop based on our peek inside Turkmenistan. Continue Reading »
Before this journey, our experience with the disputed regions in the Caucasus – Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh – amounted to a few news articles and flashpoint body-count news tickers drifting across the bottom of our television screens.
Something bad had happened, people had died, but we never truly appreciated or understood the details. Continue Reading »