Five stans of Central Asia

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Various hotels

Flag of Kazakhstan  ,
Friday, May 2, 2008

UPDATE: June 30, 2014.   I wanted to include this URL to show that Japan was very much involved on the Silk Road from very early on.  Most believe, as I used to, that the Silk Road started and ended in Xian, but that's not true.   This is one of the important insights I gained from this journey to Central Asia.   You may need to cut and paste this url address to a search engine.
[url]http://www.tangdynastytimes.com/2009/11/japans-silk-road-boom.html[/url]

 It was a very long day traveling to Central Asia


This travelogue with pictures will be one of the longest I will ever post, because it covers five countries in Central Asia, and I took over 2,000 pictures.  What surprised me the most was the simple fact that these countries we visited were living a pretty good standard of living, and that many of the sites we visited were well preserved and maintained.   The friendliness of the children can't be overly expressed; it's probably the only part of the world where young children approach you to talk with you.  It's probably a good opportunity for them to practice their English.  Our travel group was made up from people all over the US, and many were college professors and/or administrators, and we had a doctor and his wife from Minneapolis, my roommate from Florida is a retired Colonel in the Navy, a restaurant chain owner from North Carolina, and some common folks like me.   It was a good group. 

We essentially followed the Silk Road route in this region, and saw some interesting artifacts from that period in addition to meeting the  people, and eating their food (and vodka).                 The architecture is a mixture of Islamic, Russian, Persian, and Chinese basically finished in colored tiles.   We also learned a little about Tamerlane (Timur Empire), the supposed grandson of the Genghis Khan who conquered much of Central Asia which began in the early 14th century and lasted until the mid-1850s.   

From About.com.
The Silk Road (or Silk Route) refers to the network of trade routes crossing Asia, first reported to have been used during the Han Dynasty [206 BC-220 AD] in China. Over 4500 kilometers (2800 miles) of roadway are known, in three major trails betweenChang'an in China and Rome in Italy. 

The people, especially the children are very friendly towards American tourists.  They approach us freely and start to speak English as if it's their first language, but many speak over five languages.  In some countries, over 90% are Muslim, but it's against the law to promote religion in some of their countries. 

Since this journey was made almost three years ago, I will not be able to remember enough to provide a travelogue, so the pictures will have to suffice. 

There are about 600,000 Koreans living in this part of the world.  Many can be seen at the bazaars selling their typical Korean salads.  
Before taking this journey, I worried that I would stick out as the only Asian in our tour group, but that fear disappeared quickly, because many living in that part of the world have Asian faces. 

The only "shock" of preparing for this trip was the cost of the five VISA applications; with the pictures and processing fees, the total was over $800.

I had the opportunity to travel to this part of the world with Road Scholar, because a gentleman I traveled in Israel with asked me to join him.    The itinerary started in Almaty,Kazakhstan, followed by Issyk Kul,  then on to Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Bishkek, and Samarkand:













 


 








Tashkent, Uzbekistan,



 











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Tomorrow, I'll continue with Bukhara, one of my favorite places in all of Central Asia.
A bazaar we visited on our way to Bukhara
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 We stopped at this porcelain factory. 
A wedding.
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Our hotel in Bukhara; Sasha and Son.

Our Tour Director owns a hotel in Bukhara.


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Welcome to Bukhara

Bukhara:

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Our coach ride to Khiva:
















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On our way to Ashgabat, Turkministan:

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and finally to Turkministan, the country that borders Iran and Afghanistan.  We were able to see the border from one of our tours out of Ashgabat.
 












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Our last (farewell) dinner:


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I may post more pictures later on.  I had to select and process from over 2,000 photographs, and I'm sure I missed posting some from different sites we visited, and those with some photographic interest.

You are welcome to ask questions or to request more pictures from the different locations of this journey.









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