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Photos -- Silk Road and Central Asia (the 'Stans)

Photos -- Silk Road and Central Asia (the 'Stans)

Jun 17th, 2007, 04:32 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 330
I recently spent a good deal of time in Istanbul so don't want to do that again. I'll see what Mir and Uzbek Air offer tomorrow and if not satisfactory, I'll try the consolidators that you suggested. Many thanks.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 17th, 2007, 04:46 PM
  #22  
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I used frequent flyer miles for my Lufthansa trip (it was only 50,000 United Miles into Kazakhstan and back from Turkmenistan -- United counts the Stans as Europe for mileage redemption purposes).

If you can schedule guided tours of different parts of Moscow, you can make good use of those nice layovers -- Uzbekistan is certainly interesting enough to tolerate a lenghty layover. Or you could build an extra day into the Moscow stop -- there's plenty to see.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 03:28 AM
  #23  
 
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We are still trying to get information from Uzbek Air.

Michael, I checked you photos and they are wonderful. Other than the mosaics and architecture, what else did you find especially interesting in Uzbekistan?

Also, which hotels did you choose and were you pleased?
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:28 AM
  #24  
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In Uzbekistan, I only visited Samarkand and Bukhara, so I only have a very limited basis to form views of Uzbekistan, but the two cities, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are exotic, with beautiful buildings, excellent food, very friendly people and exceedingly safe to wander -- they are a joy to explore, and I wandered all day, stopping for tea and shaslik (shiskabob) from time to time. Unlike more popular European and Asian cities, they were not overrun with tourists (there were a few, but not disruptively so as I encountered most recently in Dubrovnik).

In Samarkand, I stayed at the President (a generally anonymous hotel, reported to be the best in town, and its only a 10-minute walk from the Registan and the center of town). The room and breakfast were OK, but nothing especially remarkable about the hotel. Most of the groups also used the hotel.

In Bukhara, I stayed at Sasha & Sons, which is great -- a lot of charm and sense-of-place. Its a historic building that was coverted into a hotel, and its preserved its character. Its also well located and you can walk everywhere.
thit_cho is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 04:20 PM
  #25  
 
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So I can book Uzbek Air going but they will not have the schedule for Nov 3 until Sept. How can anyone make plans based on last minute air commitments? I'm losing faith that this trip will happen. Round trip on Uzbek Air would be about $1,200 which is the same as Delta and Aeroflot. Uzbek Air flies direct from NY with a fuel stop in Riga, unlike the 10-12 hour Moscow layover with the other two airlines.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 06:59 PM
  #26  
 
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I'm only in the very early planning stage for CA (for about the third time!), but I have the feeling this is the kind of destination for which you have to plan in some slack time, and be willing to go with the flow.
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Jun 25th, 2007, 11:32 AM
  #27  
 
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Our trip is looking better. MIR said we could wait until Aug to make final arrangements and get visa, etc. Uzbek Air doesn't fly every day, but it does keep to its schedule and MIR would adjust accordingly. We spoke to a different MIR person this time who seemed to be much more effective and reassuring than the previous one.

Michael, I hesitate to use names but did your contact begin with an A or an M?
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 25th, 2007, 11:34 AM
  #28  
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J
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Jan 13th, 2008, 03:10 PM
  #29  
 
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Micheal and anyone else who has been to Central Asia

I'm just beginning to plan a trip to Central Asia for this Spring. We tried to go a few years ago but the whole thing was scuppered by SARS. Turkmenistan wouldn't issue a visa, apparently because I was a danger coming from California!

Anyway the whole thing looks like it might be back on as part of a longer itinerary this Spring. We were considering Merv but after looking at the pictures online and thinking about how far we'd have to go I'm thinking of leaving it out.

So the basic question is....beyond Samarkand and Bhukara was there anything you wouldn't have missed? We're planning on 14 days but we could take some more time and make it out to Kyrgystan and Khazakhstan. However the current plan is to focus on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Ashgabat, Kunye Urgench, Khiva, Samarkand, Bhukara and Tashkent. Did you make it to the market in Ashgabat or Osh?


Thanks!

PS loved the pictures, especially the liscense plate, very evocative.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Jan 14th, 2008, 05:54 AM
  #30  
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welltraveledbrit, for me, Bukhara and Samarkand were the obvious highlights, and I also enjoyed the day trip to Penjikent, Tajikistan, but that involves a Tajik visa and Uzbek double-entry visa. While the ruins at Penjikent were not that exciting, I did enjoy the town's photogenic market.

I did visit the market outside Ashgabat (my link includes several photos), which is also very photogenic, with a large section devoted to animals (especially camels and oxen), but I did not make it to Osh (although I did visit the main market in Bishkek, which is named Osh Bazaar).

I also found Merv underwhelming, but its a good stop on the primary overland route between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Ashgabat is also fascinating, in a sort of insane dictator sort of way.
thit_cho is offline  
Jan 14th, 2008, 12:17 PM
  #31  
 
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Thanks so much. We're planning to see the market in Ashgabat I think we'll go north from Ashgabat which means we'll miss Merv but will see Kunye Urgench and cross into Uzbekistan at Khiva.

Was there anything you wished you had brought? Or any other general advice you think would be helpful?

Thanks again, where are you heading next?

welltraveledbrit is offline  
Jan 14th, 2008, 12:44 PM
  #32  
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I can't think of any helpful items that I neglected to bring, but I travel frequently and very lightly, so I'm (as my mother would say) an "experienced packer." All in all, its a very straightforward trip, and the overland border crossings were, for the most part, simple (the Uzbek/Turkmen border was slow, with a wide no-mans' land in between, but I fortunately was picked up by a shuttle that drove me the 2km from the Uzbek border to the Turkmen border station for around US$2.00 or so).

I just returned from NZ, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands (I just posted photos on the Australia branch) and some upcoming trips include Nicaragua (March); Tahiti and Easter Island (May); Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia (August); and Mexico's Copper Canyon (October). I'm watching the calender so that I can use my frequent flyer miles to book a trip for December to Guan, Palau and the Philippines.
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Jan 14th, 2008, 09:42 PM
  #33  
 
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I'm sure you'll like Armenia, the churches are spectacular, particular some of the very out of the way monasteries. It was one of the friendliest places we're been, especially when you get out into the countryside.

The whole post-Soviet decay is quite startling but I'm sure you've seen it elsewhere. particularly in towns where their industrial base seems to have disappeared overnight.

I also enjoyed Nicaragua but I was there a while ago, right before the Sandanistas lost the election, I think it was 1989!

I envy you the Pacific trips, it's an area we haven't seen at all. I look forward to checking out your pictures.

Thanks again
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Jul 25th, 2009, 12:21 PM
  #34  
 
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My husband and I just looked at your slide show. Your pictures are beautiful! What kind of camera did you use?
We are considering a trip to the Silk Road in 2011 and are starting to think about how it would be best for us to go. We are considering taking the organized Mir tour to the Five Stans, or using a company called Bestway, who does a similar tour. What made you opt to travel there individually rather than take a tour? The skies looked perfect. What is the average temperature in May? I didn't see people wearing jackets. Did you have guides? If so, did they speak English clearly? We are from the US.
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Jul 25th, 2009, 02:09 PM
  #35  
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partypoet, I'm from the US, too. I used a Nikon digital camera -- I have upgraded since that trip, and I don't recall the model, but it was a midlevel Nikon SLR.

I travel frequently and independently, at least with respect to more unusual destinations -- that way I am only beholden to my own interests. MIR does a tour to the five 'Stans, and I used that as a base, but then adapted it to my own interests. It was a bit more expensive, but allowed me to go exactly where I wanted when I wanted. All of the guides spoke excellent English.

MIR was excellent.
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Jul 25th, 2009, 02:11 PM
  #36  
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Weather -- it was very pleasant in May (mostly high 70s to low 80s), but it was more than 100 in Merv, Turkmenistan. While touring Merv, my guide suffered heatstroke and we had to go to a local hospital, where she was treated -- the treatment was cool towels with us fanning her with washcloths.
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Aug 11th, 2009, 09:15 AM
  #37  
 
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I have heard wonderful recommendations for a company called Bestway Tours. They have independent guides companies in rather than have one overseer, as Mir does. Has anyone heard anything about the organized Bestway tour, or has anyone gone on the organized Mir tour?
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Feb 18th, 2012, 04:30 AM
  #38  
 
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I went to this region twice so far. The first time it was mostly for business, the second time it was for my own personal enjoyment. When I needed to go to Samarkand on business, I booked with East-Site Travel. They took care of the whole deal and their pricing was very good. On the second time around to central asia, I booked a three- week tour with the same agency and it was an amazing trip. I expected the historically-rich monuments and stunning architecture, but was pleasantly suprised by the natural "wilderness" beauty in the less visited countries like Kazakistan. I expected to see great deserts but there are gorgeous wildlife preserves and i even got to go rafting and fishing during the tour. This region is so different that it's exciting and refreshing. My brother wants to go with me next autumn and bring his two pre-teen boys because I told him it would be very educational. I need to return because there is so much to see, and I feel like I am waiting to finish reading a really good book.
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