Only one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world, Uzbekistan had been a mainstay on my travel bucket list for years (ever since it occurred to me that I should keep track of the places I want to visit), and while there’s something satisfying about crossing a destination off your bucket list and visiting a country with so much culture and history to offer, let’s not front: it was one of the hardest countries I’ve ever visited. There are so many barriers (yes, including literal barriers) to entry that it’s nearly impossible to be 100% go-with-the-flow or play-it-by-ear here.

Entry visa: The Stans already are scarcely visited compared to other countries, and it doesn’t help that a lot of them require advance visas. The only thing worse than endless paperwork is the paranoia when you mail off your passport to a total stranger for an indefinite amount of time, with no clue whether or not they’ll send it back because you incorrectly filled out your host’s address.

Read More Central Asia, Part 4: Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Central Asia 2015 Travel

Happy 2016, all! I’m actually typing this from the lobby of the SSR Airport in Mahébourg, as I’m finally returning to the States after a two-week trip in Mauritius and Madagascar. Bless the free wifi in this airport. Even though I’m a bit travelled-out for the time being, in the spirit of the new year, I’ve made a resolution to blog more (my 2014 and 2015 self is snorting so hard right now), among other #goals. Hope all of you have had restful and fun-filled holiday seasons. :)

Out of all my #lifegoals, one of them is to camp in a yurt. Yurts are perhaps second to only treehouses when it comes to ideal overnight lodging. LOOK AT THIS ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY. How can you say no to this.


I mean, I certainly couldn’t.

So when Rebekah and I were planning our trip, the one thing that was practically non-negotiable was horseback riding and camping out in a yurt in Kyrgzystan. We could forgo the Door to Hell because of tourist restrictions in Turkmenistan. We could save Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, &c for another trip because of distance and visa reasons. But goddamnit, we were not going to give up this one thing.

The whole affair consisted of a drive from Bishkek to Kochkor, a horseback ride from Kochkor to the yurt, and then back again. When we left Kochkor, it was a nice, sunny morning smack-dab in the middle of May:


Read More Central Asia, Part 3: That One Time I Camped in a Yurt

Central Asia 2015 Travel

Hey! Hi! SUP. Yo. You’re reading about a trip that took place 6 months ago (May – June 2015), which means that I am sadly no longer in Central Asia. However, that trip was awesome enough that I feel compelled to write about it in a series of blog posts, because it’s unsurprisingly … kind of difficult to talk about three different countries’ worth of text and photos and consolidate that sucker into one blog entry. Also, I’m likely a) nostalgic, b) itching to travel again, c) guilty about having so many orphaned photos on my HD, or d) all of the above. Anyway, let’s do this, before I start getting random plov cravings.

Also, larger versions of all the photos can be found in my Kyrgyzstan photoset.

Yo, listen. Before I descend into gratuitous wordvom about the awesomeness of my Kyrgyzstan leg of the trip, I’m going to cut to the chase and give you the key takeaway:


Awwwww yeah, das right. I was in a yurt, and it was every bit as awesome as it sounds. I love camping in the traditional “let’s camp out in the woods!” sense, but goddamn if it isn’t annoying to pitch a tent every time. Plus, given the choice between a flimsily-built tent in the middle of the woods and A MOTHERFUCKING YURT SURROUNDED BY MOUNTAINS IN KYRGYZSTAN, it’s pretty obvious which one’s the superior choice.


Okay, micdrop done.

Anyway! For those wanting to travel to Central Asia like that bitchin’ landscape above, Kyrgyzstan’s a solid gateway into the area. In most cases, you can easily get a visa on arrival, because the entrance requirements in Kyrgyzstan have the most chill compared to all the other -stans.

I arrived into Kyrgyzstan via marshrutka, from good ol’ Almaty into Bishkek. Marshrutkas are shared taxicabs, but unlike Lyft Line or Uberpool, they’re older vans and the route is pretty fixed, seeing as it doesn’t get more straightforward than Almaty → Bishkek. Overall, it took about 3 hours, though there was no way I was keeping track, having been jetlagged to the ends of the earth and running on a grand total of one cup of coffee. In all my sleep deprivation, I vaguely remember getting dropped off at the Kazakhstan exit border, communicating back and forth between Rebekah and the border guard about my passport, and having to repeat the same process as we crossed the no-man’s land and officially entered Krygzystan. I also remember drizzle and rain, which is irrelevant in the big picture, but seemed kinda relevant at the time, as we were trying to locate our marshrutka and not look like drowned rats.

Some small amount of paperwork later and another taxi ride to Rebekah’s place, and we were settled in Bishkek! Huzzah!

Cue hallelujah music.


Read More Central Asia, Part 2: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Central Asia 2015 Travel