Tag: kyrgyzstan

Happy 2016, all! I’m actually typing this from the lobby of the SSR Airport in MahĂ©bourg, 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.

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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:

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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:

I CAMPED IN A YURT.

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.

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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!

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Cue hallelujah music.

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Read More Central Asia, Part 2: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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.


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When I told people where I went for summer vacation, the response I gave was … probably not what they were expecting.

OTHER PERSON: “Oh, where’d you go?”
ME: “Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.”
OTHER PERSON: ………..o wow

And this usually prompts the question: So why did I want to go to Central Asia?

See below:

A photo posted by Cindy (@cindypepper) on

Registan Square had always been a staple on my travel bucket list since I was in high school, back when I owned a hardcover book of 100 places I had to see before I dropped dead or else my life would amount to some meaningless existence, but hopefully less drastic. Known as the “noblest public square in the world”, Registan’s all the way in Uzbekistan, a country which happens to hold many distinctions, such as one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world and one of a few countries on my Places I’d Love to Visit that Happen to be Infeasibly Far Away list. Convincing myself to go wasn’t hard. History, mountains, architecture, the far-removal from my current state — there was a lot I wanted to explore, but translating that want into plane tickets and a passport stamp takes a lot more gusto and tedious paperwork than just imagining it in your head.

Flashback to fall 2014.

My friend Rebekah had gotten accepted for a Fulbright in Kyrgyzstan last year, and when we realized that 1) Kyrgyzstan was pretty darn close to Uzbekistan and 2) we both wanted to go to Uzbekistan, like, really fucking badly, it didn’t take long for us to create a Google Doc and throw in all the places we wanted to visit. Azerbaijan! Turkmenistan! Kazakhstan! The less fun stuff, like calculating vacation days and visa restrictions, began to factor in. Eventually, we whittled down our two-week itinerary to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, tossing in ideas here and there as the months passed by, until we came up with the following: we’d spend some time in Almaty, chill at Rebekah’s place in Bishkek, go horseback riding and camp in a yurt near the Ala-Too mountains, and hit up the Uzbek trifecta of Bukhara – Samarkand – Tashkent. Phew.

We did all of those things and then some — I mean, I camped in a frickin’ yurt, for crying out loud. I had what was probably my most difficult experience getting lost in translation. I visited Samarkand and was, yes, in total awe. And hey, if my first 36 hours of travelling were any indication, this was one hell of a trip. This is how it got started, all the way back in May.

Read More Central Asia, Part 1: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Central Asia 2015