Deserts and dictators. Yurts and nomads. Silk Road cities, staggering yet underrated mountain ranges, Soviet detritus, and one of the world’s greatest road trips.
This is Central Asia. The ‘Stans. Never well understood, but absolutely worth an attempt to understand.
A glimpse of Pik Lenin (23,000+ feet) along the Pamir Highway near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
Continue Reading »
“In your travels, did you ever feel like you were being followed?” a friend recently asked.
We looked up as if to page through our mind-file of creepy experiences: “No. At least we don’t think so.”
Although we use the term “couch surfing” in the title, the experience related below was in no way connected to the CouchSurfing
network but was arranged through a friend. We are satisfied members of the CouchSurfing community and in no way mean to imply that CouchSurfing is unsafe.
Even when we answered, our response struck me as supremely naïve. Although we aren’t terribly important in the geopolitical grand scheme of things, somebody somewhere must have taken more than a casual interest in our movements. After all, we’d been throughout the former Soviet Union – including Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan — and to places like China and Burma.
Surely we had a tail somewhere along the way. Continue Reading »
Three years. Yes, we are aware that this is an insanely long time to be on the road and living out of backpacks. So before we attempt to enlighten you with our travel secrets, we reflect.
Continue Reading »
We realize that we may confuse our readers occasionally. One day we’re writing about Tajikistan and the next day about Myanmar, all while traveling through Thailand.
Why so much bouncing around? Continue Reading »
From mosques and mountains to hats and limousines, the often unusual sights and scenery of the Caucasus and Central Asia always kept us guessing. If you check out the categories and keep reading, you’ll see why. Continue Reading »
No place takes the logic out of logistics, from pillar to post, like the former Soviet Union. Inspired by our own experiences, the following entries are in no logical order. Let’s dig in.
Worst Toilet: Svaneti Region of Georgia
Competition in this category was exceptionally fierce, but the nod goes to Svaneti. Although we highly recommend a visit to the region, we suggest you pack your hip waders for visits to the outhouse. Continue Reading »
Maintaining and updating a website while on the road in the Caucasus and Central Asia proved rather challenging. Internet availability and reliability in the region unfortunately has not yet begun to approach Southeast Asian standards. Continue Reading »
I thought Americans liked to travel in comfort. I don’t know why you take a marshrutka.
You should take the marshrutka. There you will meet the real people.
– Two competing local views on whether or not we should subject ourselves to long-distance rides on marshrutka minivans, the dominant form of public transport in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Continue Reading »
Welcome to the first and only Golden Camel Awards, a camel’s eye view of the best and worst that Central Asia and the Caucasus have to offer!
While most people don’t travel to the Caucasus and Central Asia solely to explore the cuisine, we had our share of pleasant eating experiences there. We also occasionally felt the wrath of a post-Soviet culinary hangover. If you are interested to know what constitutes a good eating experience (heavenly bread, drinkable vodka, and elusive vegetables) or what continues to haunt our food dreams, read on. Continue Reading »
I just want to go home. I’m tired of all this visa stuff.
– A distressed traveler at the Kazakh embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
So what does sex have to do with Central Asian visas? Simple, really. Thinking about, planning around, and procuring visas for Central Asian countries begins to dominate one’s time and mindspace — almost to the point of obsession. We’ll leave it to you to do the rest of the comparison. Continue Reading »