Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, & Turkmenistan

Old Jul 28th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, & Turkmenistan

Ok. Im off to this part of the world this Sept....would be fun to chat a bit about what Im about to see and experience. Needless to say Im very excited about my trip.
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 06:02 AM
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Hi Leanna

We spent 7 weeks doing the stans - and for the most part had an awesome time. Pity you aren't doing Tajikistan cos that was the best one for me - stunning scenery and the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet.
You'll find plenty of info on the Thorn Tree forum of the Lonely Planet
http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ca...s.cfm?catid=13
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 07:38 PM
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I guess Tajikistan, right now is not considered safe or some such silliness. That is another reason I want to do this part of the world NOW!!!! Thank you for this tip about Lonely Planet. I actually have their guide book in front of me right now. IT was the ONLY Central Asia guide book our county library had listed...and I checked it out!!! Anyway I'll check out the web page..thanks!! So what other things do you remember as being fabulous. I'm very excited to see Samarkand...just the name alone brings ancient romance to my head!!!
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Hiya
we were only in the 'stans' in June - wonder what safety issues have arisen?! seriously, I thought is was wonderful - although a bureaucratic nightmare.

In Uzbekistan, my highlight was Bukhara with its beautiful Islamic buildings, especially the Kolan mosque and the minaret (go up just before sunset - beautiful). Another unusual sight in Uzbekistan is Moynaq with its ship graveyard due to the draining away of the Aral Sea.

Turkmenistan was bizarre. As you may know, there is quite a personality cult surrounding the leader. The capital is spanking showcase new but the rest of the country is very poor. Favourite part was the gas crater at Darvaza.

Kyrgyzstan is very beautiful and wonderful to be in if you like trekking, horse riding etc. (Personally not my thing). To be truthful, it was a bit tame compared to Tajikistan!

If you'd like to see some pics, I posted them here.
http://www.pbase.com/sylvieyang/central_asia_june_2006
Have lots of fun!
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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bkkmei - thanks for the photos - they're fabulous!
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 07:30 PM
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Oh My....THANK YOU SOOO MUCH..for sharing these pics.....I've marked them so I can go back and really study each one.

I've typed up my itinery in an outline and now Im reading guide books and checking each thing we'll see on the web..so each day I get a little smarter about where Im going. I hate to get off that bus and not know what I'm seeing. This way I can have a better appreciation.

I dont know why the fuss over Tajikistan.....and I dont tend to pay attention to the rest of the world and the politicians! ....just go where my heart calls and where I can get a good trip!

We will be seeing the Kolan Mosque, not sure about the ship graveyard but that looks fascinating!.. and Im just getting into that guy in Turkministan!!!

What do you think the weather will be like in Sept/Oct. Right now its 101 in Samarkand...ugh!!!

OU Im getting so excited....keep talking!!!!
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 06:54 AM
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Leanna, althom 1122
thanks for your nice comments about the pics.
Leanna, how long are you going for? In Turkmenistan are you going for the transit visa or guided tour? I hope you get to see the gas crater - the whole country is quite surreal. There's quite a lot of visa planning involved with these countries, specially Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
Am not sure how hot it will be in Samarkand in September. When we were there it was a heatwave (mid 30s). But at the same time, it's a dry heat so you don't sweat so much!
Feel free to ask any other questions!!
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 08:29 PM
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I am going for 25 days...w/ Baraka Journeys...and no Im not advertising...just who I happen to be going with.

She will handle all visas etc so I dont think I have much to worry about except paying for them. She will be w/ us and also a local woman as our local guide will travel w/ us.

So whaz is it w/ this guy Nyvazov...is he a good guy or a bad guy!!! Lonely Planet really tosses in some fun digs at him!!!

Dry heat....I always think of a tshirt I saw once...a bunch of skeletons standing on a beach...saying...oh yea but its a dry heat!!! Maybe you had to see the tshirt!!!

Oh the hat your hubby had on.....the fur one..I think it was fur....did you get that there? Where? How much? What kind of fur?? Or am I being to nosey.....forgive me. But I have a pals hubby who would love one like that..they live in Wis so he would get good use of in the winter.

I leave in 7 weeks and 4 days!!!



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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 06:18 AM
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Hi Leanna

For Turkmenistan, as I said, the capital is very different from the countryside. When you go, your guide will say many glowing things. Don't question too much cos there are a lot of bugs about and 'ears' and it won't help your local guide to be answering awkward questions.
(BTW Uzbekistan is not exactly know for its human rights record either - not to spoil your trip, but just for your awareness.)
You can get different types of hats in each of the countries! In Uzbekistan men like to wear ones that are like square skull caps. They also have the big sheepskin ones (as in the pics) for winter - in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.
In Turkmenistan, that's where the pics were taken at the Tolkucha Bazaar on the outskirts of Ashgabat. I think they quoted 10 USD without bargaining. Aren't they great? This hatseller was near to where all the carpets are (but no we didn't actually buy any).
In Kyrgyzstan, the men's hats are white felt with black or white patterns.
For Uzbekistan, in Tashkent, there's a great Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal I think. The lamb dopiaza was gorgeous! And tandoori chicken good too. (Sorry to mention non-C. Asian cuisine, but I got a bit bored of shashlik after a while!) If your guide leaves you alone in Tashkent, take a bit of care with the police, specially in the underground. Again, not to scare you, but they like to pick on tourists for backhanders. Carry a COPY of your passport and visa, and act polite but dumb, i.e. "I don't speak Russian."
For Turkmenistan, if you are in Ashgabat, check out Iceberg - it's an outdoor beer garden w/ a nice atmosphere. The people are really nice and friendly in Turkmenistan.
again, any more questions, feel free. I really enjoyed the trip.
Oh BTW, as another bit of background reading, there's an interesting book called 'The Great Game' by Peter Hopkirk. It's about the 19th Century games of spying and diplomacy between the British and Russian empires which takes place in C. Asia.
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Old Aug 5th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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Bkkmei....Thank you for all this stuff. I have copied everything down.

I got my info about the visas and starting on tuesday will send away for the first one. All total Im going to spend about $265 I think for visas. But worth it I know. Now they have recommended I get lots of shots for typhoid and all...did you?

Also did you have any digestive problems. They warned us about that too. I dont plan on eating off the street stands....but I did get sick in Egypt at the Mena house no less!!!
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 12:49 AM
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Hi Leanna

I had all my shots already. Personally, if it's recommended, then I would do it.

For digestive problems, I was pretty careful what I ate. I did get sick once but it was very short and I think also connected to altitude (we were in Tajikistan). In the cities, there is a big variety of food and probably things like salads are made with clean water. I would still be careful of raw salads if I were you.
To be frank, I have quite a strong stomach as I was living in Asia. No matter how careful you are you may experience the odd incident simply because your body isn't used to the new surroundings and strange food. Also, sometimes, eating off the street - if it's freshly cooked and has a high turnover of customers - can be less of a risk than eating in a restaurant!
Lamb is the meat of choice in these countries. Lamb lamb lamb. Oh and lamb fat. Hope you're not a veggie!
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Old Aug 6th, 2006, 08:04 PM
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NOooo no veggie here!!!! I hear the mutton is just too too!!! NOT!!!!

I caught amoebic dysentary years ago in South america...from a salad in Chili....gee it looked soo healthy and good.....almost killed me!! But that bug has never quite left me...so I guess I'll get the dr. to prescribe EVERYTHING!!!! Just in case. GAD!!!!

At least there are no dressy nites so I can leave the diamonds and minks at home...JUST KIDDING!!! About the diamonds and minks that is!!! Dont have them to leave!! I spend all my $$$ on travel!!!

What Im doing now is going thru the itinery and looking each spot up on the web and finding what pics I can.....what amazing sights I shall be seeing!!

So where are you off to next???
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Old Aug 7th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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I was so happy to see this posting.

We were hoping to visit Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan three years ago but had troublle with the Turkmen visa because of their concerns that we would bring SARS from California! Instead we went to Iran three years ago I was captivated by this area of the world.

The Stans are still very high on my list and I'm so looking forward to any and all trip reports.

leanna...while there may be very few guidebooks there is certainly an Odyssey guide on Uzbekistan and I was recently reading a review of a book on Turkmenistan written by an ex American diplomat.
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Old Aug 7th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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Hi Brit!! OUUU Iran...another "wish I could get to"...sigh!!! I have a pal from there but she says...not to go there right now..so I keep waiting...but my life drains by!! How lucky for you that you got there.

Ok I will check out the Odyssey guide book. I have the Lonely Planet one and have covered it but will also re read cause the more I learn the more what I re learn makes sense!

Do you by any chance remember the name of that book you mentioned? ..or the author? I have found one called "The Hundred Thousand Fools of God" by Theodore Levin. He is an ethnomusicologist and traveled the area and then wrote his tales. I teach music so think I would enjoy this tome. I have some here to read first then I will order it. I can get it from the library so I will save a bit of $$ there.

Now I'm not as cheapo as I sound....I will go and spend lots of $$$ there!!!!

Getting a blood test this week...from that they will figure out what I already have immunities for..and then I can get shots for the rest. The Shot clinic suggested I do it this way as it will save me $$ cause my insurance will not cover anything. I have had several child hood diseases..measles..mumps etc...(in the old days....they use to just let us get sick to build immunities!! )...so some of that might now come in handy!! Thought that was interesting.

Ok....this is great everybody....you are helping me to pass my days as I wait..THANK YOU!!!!!!! xo
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 07:32 PM
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Just in case anyone is around I have a ?! Do you remember or know what kind of adapter you used in these coutries including Kazakstan which is not listed. I've tried my local travel store today and they were stumped! Thanks
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Old Sep 8th, 2006, 09:05 PM
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So glad to see a posting on these countries! I've been wanting to make it to Central Asia since I did Beijing to Islamabad back in 2001. I'm currently starting to plan for next spring. Would love to go to Iran on the way, but sounds like this may not be the best time....

I think the Turkmen book is "Unknown Sands" by John Kropf.

bkkmei - did you go alone or on a tour? These days I usually travel solo, but am currently looking at tours for part of this trip.
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Old Sep 9th, 2006, 01:22 AM
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Hi Leanna

I can't quite remember but the LP should definitely tell you which adapter to take and it should be the same for all these ex-Soviet 'stans'. I brought 2 along with me: one 2 round pin adapter, and one 2 pin 'straight' adapter - hope you know what I mean. BTW are you going to Kazakhstan as well? Personally it was my least favourite country - people less friendly and much more expensive. Anyhow, when are you leaving??!!

Hi thursdaysd
my husband and I travelled independently. Only in Turkmenistan we were forced to take a 'tour' because of visa restrictions. But in this case we just arranged one guide for the 2 of us to retain a sense of independence!!
Other times we hired taxi drivers to get us from place to place. For the pamirs, we hired a driver from an agency and I'd be happy to recommend this driver again, though he speaks no English.
The big hassle in travelling independently is arranging visas/letters of invitation/ special permits. If you are travelling to more than one stan it can take weeks of preparation.
Sometimes it's better NOT to travel with a 'translator' - you can avoid a lot of 'bakshish' by playing dumb and not understanding!!
Hope you make it out there. Would love to go to Iran. My husband went and said the people there are super-friendly - they were fighting over paying his restaurant bills!! That was a few years ago, but he said the people there could quite differentiate individuals from country politics!
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Old Sep 9th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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Hi Leanna - hope you don't mind me hijacking your thread! I'm really looking forward to hearing about your trip, will you be blogging? Also, could you think about posting your itinerary?

bkkmei - wonderful photos! The tiles are even better than I thought. And the mountains look great, I definitely want to make it to Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan. Couple of things - Lonely Planet is pretty down on the food, but from your pix it looks pretty good? And what kind of price were you paying for a car & driver or taxis? When I say solo travel I mean just me, and I have more time than money. I know I want to spend more time in Samarkand & Bukhara & the mountains than the tours allow, and I'm sure I can afford public transport, but a few cars and drivers would be nice.

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Old Sep 9th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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hiya
I'm sorry I can't be more precise on taxi costs as I don't have my expense notes with me! I can remember that for example a 2 hour journey in Uzbekistan (Nukus to Moynaq) cost USD40. In this instance public transport would have been a real chore to do this trip. However, on easier runs e.g. Bukhara to Samarkand, there are plenty of shared taxis etc. which are affordable.
For more mountainous routes where the roads are rougher, cost will depend on for example do you want a 4WD or a Toyota Land Cruiser? And of course the current price of petrol!
For something like the Pamirs, you will definitely need a private driver - it's so remote and half the year shut off cos of the mountain snow.

For the food, it's lamb lamb lamb all the way. Lamb kebabs, lamb pastries, lamb soup : specially the fat - they love their fat bottomed sheep! There's a lot of cumin and dill which I personally am not that fond of. A lot of the time I just ended up eating cabbage soup. So, I hope you like lamb.

I'd like to refer you to a posting my husband made on the LP website about Tajikistan - it's really precise and has tonnes of info, but feel free to ask more!

http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/me...entid=0&from=1
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Old Sep 9th, 2006, 12:39 PM
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Leanna and BKKmei:

Enoyed all of your posts..sort of deja vu...I traveled the "stans" when it was very complicated and red=-taped beyond belief, the late 70's and mid 80's when it was all S.S. R. territory. I found an ancient synagogue in Bukhara where we were welcomed even though there was an insurmountable language barrier. In Tashkent, we found our traveling friend's uncle whom his father hadn't seen since 1919. In Samarkand, we were detained by the local Russian guard outpost near the Registan who questioned us for five hours regarding the big TV camera equipment (new at the time) we were carrying. They toyed with the seven film cartridges but finally let us have them back. An officer showed up at that point and summarily dismissed us with a wagging finger as if to say.."don't let me see you taking any more video." We were very reluctant to "shoot" after that lest we lose everything. But we managed to get great footage anyway. Hope to visit again one of these days.

Stu T.
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