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.
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?
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