My sense of adventure and ambition had never gotten more intense than my 3 months spent in Central Asia. Having travelled overland from Egypt back to northwestern China, I had originally planned on heading home. But the rugged excitement of travelling in Pakistan had left me yearning for more challenge, and remote Central Asia became my answer.
The queer thing is, I had spent the longest time in the smallest country (Tajikistan) and the shortest time in the biggest country (Kazakhstan). This is probably an indication of the kind of travelling I prefer (rugged adventure over comfortable civilization).
When one thinks about the ‘stans, the troublesome visa application processes and bureaucracy immediately come to mind, thanks to the Soviet influence. But it was well worth the trouble, especially when you think about all the surreal fairytale-like scenery you’d be surrounded by once you get inside those borders.
Descended from mountain tribes and herders, many ethnic groups in Central Asia still manage to preserve their nomadic ways of life, which is hard to come by amidst widespread globalization. The terrain is so isolated it feels like a totally different world even though it’s only a border crossing away from China. It is also very amazing to see how the faces around you gradually change from Oriental to Eurasian to Middle-eastern as you slowing move from Kyrgyzstan to Turkmenistan. This is the true place where the east meets the west.
TAJIKISTAN 塔吉克斯坦: Qolma Pass, Murghab, Khorog, Ishkashim, Wakhan Valley, Bulungkul, Bartang Valley, Dushanbe, Penjikent, Artush, Fan Mountains, Khojand, Isfara
KYRGYZSTAN 吉爾吉斯坦: Batken, Osh, Toktogul, Bishkek, Tamchy (Isseykul), Karakol, Balykchy, Kochkor, Songkul
KAZAKHSTAN 卡薩克斯坦: Almaty, Shymkent, Turkistan
UZBEKISTAN 烏茲別克斯坦: Tashkent, Samarkand, Urgut, Bukhara
TURKMENISTAN 土庫曼斯坦: Turkmenabat, Mary, Ashgabat, Tolkuchkar, Turkmenbashi