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 »
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 »
On the surface, a Kazakh visa should have been our easiest visa to obtain. Kazakhstan is arguably the most developed of the former Soviet countries. But the bureaucratic machine still runs strong at the Kazakh Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan itself. 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 »
A couple of notes, dear reader. We are headed to Myanmar and things may be quiet, or they may not. We just don’t know. If you don’t hear from us on the home page, take a look at “The Very Latest” on the left-hand sidebar. Twitter seems to have worked in most countries, even those with heavy internet controls and painfully slow connections.
We are also still catching up on Central Asia. It left an impression on us that has rendered us far behind in our writing. While we figure out Myanmar, we offer you the following: the best people, food and landscape/cityscape shots from a journey that still leaves us surprisingly nostalgic for the intensity, challenge, and people of Central Asia. Continue Reading »
When we arrive in a new location, we usually seek out the local market. This is how we orient ourselves. Markets provide an easy way to meet real people in a friendly context. They also offer an insight into local food and culture. Central Asian markets proved no different. We found ourselves frequently sampling local fruits (OK, having fruit heaped upon us by the lapful) and talking with vendors about their products. We decided that the markets, the vendors and the produce in Central Asia deserved a video. Continue Reading »
Barely recovering from self-inflicted death march from Kazakh mountains. Copter airlift looked likely. Rappelling down waterfall = escape.
– Our Twitter update from Almaty, Kazakhstan on 3 September 2007
My, how things can go wrong. Continue Reading »
Sometimes we seek beauty and sometimes we find it. Sometimes we seek a thrill and it finds us, giving us more than we had bargained for. Along our journey into the Tian Shan Mountains in Kazakhstan, we encountered pieces of history, stunning landscape, a draining hike, and the softer side of Almaty. The only thing missing: a map. Continue Reading »
You know you are in trouble when the only people in the place who smile at you are the missionaries.
A trip to the post office in each country we visit is pretty standard for us. We dread it because of the time it usually eats up, but we always find ourselves making the journey in order to mail backup DVDs of our photos or an occasional postcard. From a cultural anthropological point of view, however, a trip to the post office affords us another slice of real life and provides a window into how a country actually works (or doesn’t).
Shakedown at the Kiddie Painting
Almaty, Kazakhstan was no different. We stood in a line of three people at the main post office and awaited our turn as a possessed animatronic postal worker repeatedly stamped letters drawn from a stack about two feet tall. Continue Reading »
Wedding parties, mountain lakes, Soviet scientific centers and parks – images from Kazakhstan are up in our photo gallery. Enjoy!