Exploring Bishkek

Bishkek Kyrgyzstans capital was where I stayed during my time in Kyrgyzstan, from here I did excursions to Son Kul lake and Cholpon Ata at lake Issyk Kul.

I didn’t spend much of my time in Bishkek itself, as full day excursions outside Bishkek filled up my time, but I did visited the centre of Bishkek, maybe not enough to write a whole blog about it. Continue reading

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My Top 3 Adventurous travels

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Top 3 Adventure

Adventure in the Mountains

Adventure in the Mountains

 

My Top 3 Adventurous Travels till now are my visits to following countries :

  • Trip to Peru with the crazy flights over the Nazca lines (link)
  • Bolivia Salt flats of Uyuni and the way to get there (link)
  • Darvaza Turkmenistan’s hell on earth  (link)
Darvaza my Turkmenistan Adventure

Darvaza my Turkmenistan Adventure

 

On Adventurous trips I saw people having some better equipment with them then I had, from backpacks, to sleeping bags, solid hiking shoes, torches, all kinds of gear.
A good blog where you can read about what gear to take on your travels is thesmartlad.com/

Check it out !

 

 

 

 

Ruh Ordo Issyk-Kul Lake

About 260 km from Bishkek lays Cholpon Ata at Issyk-Kul lake, the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and what would become my second trip which Apple Hostel arranged for me.
My own driver, private tour in a 4×4 off we go. Continue reading

Son Kul Lake

KYRGYZSTAN

 

Me with Kyrgyz flagpole in Son Kul

Me with Kyrgyz flagpole in Son Kul

After my time in Kazakhstan it was time to go to Kyrgyzstan. I took a flight with Air Astana from Almaty to Bishkek, it was about 50 minutes before entering a new country.
In Bishkek I stayed at the Apple Hostel with Aigul who’s a smart and funny girl running the place. I was welcomed by her and the rest of the staff. She organised tours for me and one of the tours was to The Burana Tower and Son Kul Lake. A 2 day trip with overnight in a real Kyrgyz yurt. It was a first time experience for me to sleep in a Yurt and the night passed very quickly as I felt asleep immediately after a long day in the car driving over the mountain passes to get there. Continue reading

Almaty

BAM BAM KazakhstaN !!

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Almaty was the former capital of Kazakhstan and the 2nd city I visited in the country.
I have only spend 2 days in the city and  found it a very busier city then Astana, alot of traffic, but taking the metro is a good way to move around and not many people seem to take the metro, it was empty everytime I took the tube. Continue reading

Astana

ASTANA

Last year I visited 3 of the Stan countries and this year I visited the other 2, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. you can argue about how many Stan countries there are but “the Stans” was the name given to the 5 ex-sovjet republics who end all on “stan”. I’m not counting Pakistan, Afghanistan in this category. The biggest Stan would be Kazakhstan and I got to visit Astana which is the current modern capital, which will be hosting the World expo next year in 2017 and the former capital Almaty (more on this in a future post)
When you visit a country you need to make a choice in what you want to see and as for now I wanted to specifically go see these 2 cities. Continue reading

Ta Prohm

Another Temple that I visited in the Angkor complex was Ta Prohm with its huge trees overgrowing big parts of the temple. The trees are in unique shapes and I also saw the most famous tree of them all, the one that got featured in the Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie. Some people call it “The Tomb Raider Temple”.
The Bayon temple is known for its faces this one for its big Banyan trees. So many different temples to visit and each one is different like Beantey Srei with its Monkey statues is in a well-preserved state. Less tourist here but surrounded by the jungle its a must see and well worth to take your time and have a look.

Ta Prohm entrance

Ta Prohm entrance

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Tree overgrowing the temple walls

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This is the famous tree from the Tomb Raider movie scene with Angelina Jolie

This is the famous tree from the Tomb Raider movie scene with Angelina Jolie

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GOING TO THE NEXT TEMPLE BANTEAY SREI

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Monkey carvings

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Entrance Banteay Srei

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This is a zebra caterpillar I guess 🙂

Kunya Urgench

My last place of visit in Turkmenistan was the Unesco site of Kunya Urgench near the city of Dashoguz. In Kunya Urgench you follow a long path, along it you will see old buildings from the 11th till 16th century, Sultan Tekesh and Arslan mausoleum,Gutlug Timur minaret and the Turabeg Khanym mosque or mausoleum, it’s not clear untill this day which one of the two it is. 7 monuments in total and I didn’t spend many more time here because once you have seen these few building that are a little bit spread over the landscape along the path you have seen it. It took me not even half an hour before I went back to my driver in the 4X4 jeep to take me to the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for my first border crossing in the Stans.
From the Turkmen province of Dashoguz to the Uzbek province of Karakalpakstan which has an autonomous status within Uzbekistan. I visited the city of Khiva there.

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Turabeg Khanym

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Arslan mausoleum

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Sultan Tekesh mausoleum

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Turkmen girls visiting their Unesco heritage site of Kunya Urgench

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Gutlug Timur minaret the tallest medieval minaret in Central Asia and the only survived part of the old main mosque that used to stand here in the 13th century

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locals at a mosque

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the end of the path

a short video of me talking Flemish (Dutch) abut the buildings that I see

Penjikent to Dushanbe

PENJIKENT

From Istaravshan I continued my journey in Tajikistan to the very far west of the country to Penjikent passing the Anzob pass, mountains so high and valleys so deep made it a scary ride, but the most scaring part was to cross the 5km long tunnel of death, the tunnel is not completely finished, the cause are the many construction problems during the years.
it’s dark inside like in every tunnel but with dark I mean really dark no light at all, only the lights from the cars in front of you or coming from the opposite direction, there are no lights on the side like in most tunnels, holes in the ground, flooded with water makes it even more hard to drive normally. It was a crazy experience. Because of the narrow tunnels and no ventilation system there is the danger to suffocate, when your car breaks down carbon monoxide poisoning can happen and it already brought deaths with it in the past.
Happy to made it out of this tunnel. It wasn’t really worth it to come to this part of Tadjikistan cause in Penjikent there is not much to see, I have been in one little museum where there were no other visitors but me and my Tajik guide who was with me the whole trip, the most interesting historical pieces found in this area are to be seen in the big national museum of Tadjikistan in the capital city Dushanbe.

Mosaic fresco's Penjikent

Mosaic fresco’s Penjikent

Approaching the "Tunnel of Death"

Approaching the “Tunnel of Death”

Inside the dark tunnel

Inside the dark tunnel

Penjikent

Penjikent

Somoni statue Penjikent

Somoni statue Penjikent

Statue of a local Tadjik women pilot of the USSR army who died in the 2nd World War

Statue of a local Tadjik women pilot of the USSR army who died in the 2nd World War

Dushanbe would be my next Tadjik city to visit and the end of my trip in this country, but before that, I visited the Iskanderkul Lake on my way to Dushanbe.
It’s a Lake surrounded by the Fann Mountains in a triangle shape and nowadays a natural reserve with water meadows and forests.
Iskander means Alexander and Kul means Lake in Tajik, referring to Alexander the Great, once the ruler of a big empire where Tadjikistan was part of.

Iskanderkul Reserve

Iskanderkul Reserve

Iskanderkul Lake

Iskanderkul Lake

Fann Mountains

Fann Mountains

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Dilovar Homestay near Iskanderkul

Dilovar Homestay near Iskanderkul in a Mountainous village

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Finally Dushanbe

Dushanbe is a big city and after a journey through the mountain areas it was nice to take a rest in a city and just chill. I went to the national museum of Tadjikistan, it was a saturday and very crowded with students and schoolchildren visiting the big museum with 3 levels. It was funny to see some Tajiks taking the escalators to another level, some have never been on an escalator and were scared to go first, it was a real adventure for some, cute to watch those Tadjiks having all the fun and time of their life for something this simple.
The museum is a must when you’re in Dushanbe.

Tadjikistan flag

Tadjikistan flag

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

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Monument with on top the Tadjikistan national emblem

Somoni monument

Somoni monument

Rudaki Monument

Rudaki Monument

"The National Museum of Tadjikistan"

“The National Museum of Tadjikistan”

Park with paddle boats just outside the National Musem

Park with paddle boats just outside the National Museum

 

Hissar

Some 15 km out of the city I visited the Hissar fortress which was being renovated to make it look better for tourists and also here there was a bus with students visiting the fortress just when I was about to leave.
Here I saw more locals visiting the sightseeing places then it was the case in Khujand, but I think it had a lot to do with it being a weekend here in Dushanbe.
Just like in Khujand there is a big statue of Ismael Somoni, only this one is in the centre of the City near the Rudaki park and the Presidential palace.

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Sangin Mosque seen from the Hissar fortress

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Locals visiting the place

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Samarkand

After Bukhara my Journey through Uzbekistan continued to Samarkand which was an important city on the silk road. It’s the country’s most famous city, with the famous Registan square. In every travelbrochure about Uzbekistan you will find a picture of the Registan square, it must be the most photographed place of the country.
There are 3 big madrassas and in one of them I went up the minaret from which I had a superb view on the square and the city around.
I stayed at the Bibi Khanym hotel just next to the Bibi Khanym Mosque which is a famous Mosque in Samarkand cause it once was the biggest Mosque in the Islamic world.
Instead of going to that Mosque I went to the Shah-i-Zinda complex which is a little more further from the central area, it’s an ensemble of Mausoleums (Islamic schools) with the nicest mosaics and there is also another Mosque.

The Registan

The Registan

Another view on the Registan

Another view on the Registan

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Ulugh Beg Madrassa with it's minarets - I have been on top of the right minaret

Ulugh Beg Madrassa with its minarets – I have been on top of the right minaret

Here I am on the Registan square with the Tilya Kori Madrassa

Here I am on the Registan square with the Tilya Kori Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa with the tigers

Sher-Dor Madrassa with the tigers

Tiger Mosaic on the Sher-Dor Madrassa

Tiger Mosaic on the Sher-Dor Madrassa

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrassa

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrassa

Ceiling inside the Tilya-Kori Mosque

Ceiling inside the Tilya-Kori Mosque

Registan Square seen from the minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Registan Square seen from the minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa seen from the Minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Sher-Dor Madrassa seen from the Minaret of the Ulugh Beg Madrassa

Bibi Khanym Mosque

Bibi Khanym Mosque

The Bibi Khanym Mosque seen from my hotel

The Bibi Khanym Mosque seen from my hotel

Tiger Monument

Tiger Monument

View on Samarkand

View on Samarkand

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Shah-i-Zinda complex

The Entrance of the Shah-i-Zinda complex

The Entrance of the Shah-i-Zinda complex

The avenue of Mausloeums

The avenue of mausoleums

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