Central Asia

Headless horseplay: goating around in Kyrgyzstan 

(A slightly-delayed post from the summer…be warned it’s a little long!)

Two weeks in Kyrgyzstan, a small, mountainous, partially “democratic” ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia – this land of soaring peaks and stunning green-carpeted vistas was the antidote to our city-hopping in Uzbekistan. Two weeks turned out to be not nearly long enough to explore properly as there are lots of places to go to, and travelling around is quite slow and frustrating. There is almost no public transport – between popular places there are shared taxis and minibuses, but as soon as you leave the most central highways, you’re utterly reliant on hitchhiking. More prepared travellers than us arranged car hire, and on balance this would have been a great idea, though apparently there are very few cars available to hire so you must book far ahead. Plus, the number of crashed-up car wrecks we passed on the side of the road suggests it’s not the safest place to drive… However, once we had managed to get to each place we wanted to visit, we had a fantastic time! (more…)

Why Uzbekistan?!? Travelling the Silk Road in Central Asia

When I told friends that I would be travelling to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan this summer, I was met with a faces showing emotions ranging from confusion to surprise to bafflement and comments along the lines of “like in Borat?” (no, that’s Kazakhstan!). More often than not it was simply blank faces that stared back at me – where the hell is Uzbekistan and why on earth would I want to go there? This post is an attempt to explain why I would count our two weeks in Uzbekistan as one of my most successful trips, and why it’s an amazing place to travel to!  (more…)

Rosie’s Rules of the Road (Uzbek style) 

Guest post from Rosie on certain rules of the road we have noticed while travelling here: 


Preparation

1. Fill up with explosive propane gas. Thoughtfully make your passengers get out while you do this, just in case the car blows up.

2. Crack the windscreen. This will show you’re an experienced driver.

3. Get rid of back seat-belt buckles.

4. Only wear front seat belts in police presence. If passenger doesn’t remove once police have passed, kindly do this for them.

5. Remove speedometer needle

Ok, you’re good to go. (more…)

Elephant No. 37: Fergana, Uzbekistan 

I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled throughout Uzbekistan for an elephant to add to this blog, and finally I found this one on our last day in the country, in Fergana city in the far east of the country. We were walking through a park to get to the bus station, and came across a series of fairground rides which – for once – seemed to be functioning. All the fairground attractions we’ve passed in other city parks have been disused and rusting, though these ones were making such a disturbing rattling noise as they whizzed round that we were in no way tempted to try them out. Besides, we were on a tight schedule, trying to get through the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border that day, which was supposed to be a particularly difficult and lengthy border crossing due to ongoing land disputes between the two countries. (In the end it was possibly one of the easiest border crossings I’ve ever done so we needn’t have worried!)  (more…)