Note: I used voice recording on my phone to write sections of this post, so please excuse any typos.
3 May – Meeting in Singapore| After so many years of dreaming about visiting the silk road, I’m finally doing it. This evening I met my mom at the Singapore international airport. I was coming from Vietnam, and she was coming from Indonesia and we are both on our way to the countries (the Five Stan’s) of the silk road. Our first stop is actually Istanbul where we have a day layover to experience the city before connecting to the first country of our trip – Turkmenistan. We are flying Turkish airways which is a really great airline and connects a lot of Eastern Asia with western Asia. We boarded our flight in Singapore around 11 PM and will fly 10 hours through the night to arrive at Istanbul at 5 AM (with a four hour time change). Funny story, I figured found out that my seat on the airplane would not recline, it was broken and stood straight up the entire flight, I told the flight attendant and the only extra seat they had was in business class. Thus I got to spend my first experience in business class laying down across the ocean. So what is the best at the least expensive way to get this is class? Just cross your fingers that you get a broken seat and economy class and they let you upgrade. We are on our way now we have two hours until we land in Istanbul and a full day where we have lots of sites we want to see, before coming back to catch our second right eye flight to take us to Turkmenistan. We’re going to be running on little sleep so please pray for us going to be a blast.
May 4 – Istanbul Turkey | We arrived in Istanbul Turkey and it was an absolute whirlwind! I can’t even remember all the places we went during our 8 hour visit, but what I can tell you is that I definitely want to come back and spend more time in Turkey (it is an absolutely fascinating country). We Visting hagia Sophia, Topaki Palace, the Blue Mosque; and several other unique destinations.
May 5 – We made it! Early in the morning we arrived here in Turkmenistan. It was really late in the evening (actually really early in the morning around 2-3am) BUT after getting our visa, finding our Guide, and reporting Lost luggage (we had 2 people in our group lose their suitcases), we ended up getting to our hotel around 4am. We are all very surprised with Ashgabat (the capital city of Turkmenistan) is a city completely built out of marble. Actually it’s the largest marble city in the world, with only white cars (if you drive a car of a different car you get fined). Everything looks beautiful, expensive, and perfectly put together from the streetlights to the manicured gardens. I actually think Turkmenistan is one of the most unique cities I’ve ever seen throughout all of my travels, and let me tell you why. The entire city is covered in marble, people only drive white cars or you get fined (as mentioned above), it’s a country of 6 million people yet the city looks completely abandoned (like a bunch of empty white marble buildings). The president is a very unique man. When we first arrived in Turkmenistan all my friends told me to watch YouTube videos of him, and after watching them I understand why… There are many other things that make Turkmenistan such a unique country and I will list those out later.
After a few hours of sleep, we woke up and spent the full day visiting Ashgabat, as well as Old Nisa (one of the older cities along the silk road), at the end of the day we drove two hours into the mountains to see a local Village. Although it was a very long drive it was very cool to see the contrast between the perfect city and the rustic countryside Village is in the mountains where most of the people live. It reminded me of a village that you would see in Jordan or Egypt (or really anywhere in the Middle East). We drove along the border with Iran the entire way to the village, which was quite cool. The mountains create a natural border between Iran and Turkmenistan so it was interesting to be so close to place that I’ve always wanted to go (but haven’t done so with my US Passport). This is why I love to travel – it opens your eyes, gives you experience, and helps you think beyond traditional ideas or stereotypes that we have every day.
6 May – today we hopped on a morning flight from Ashkhabad to doghouse which is a city on the northernmost part of Turkmenistan on the border with is Pakistan we chose to fly this time because it is around attend a 12 Hour Dr. and we just didn’t have enough time. If I were to come back again I would try to do the driving overnight at what they call the gates of hell the door to hell which is a giant creator of lava in the middle of the country I Turkmenistan just has really weird things like this. Anyways we took a 45 minute flight and arrive in the northern part of Turkmenistan where we took a quick excursion to see some silk road ruins. Well Turkmenistan is it a common travel destination and you don’t see a lot of it online because you aren’t allowed to take a lot of pictures, it actually has some of the most ancient silk road history and all of the stands. As mentioned yesterday we visit Anisa are the oldest preserve city along the silk road and today we visited another site that had many other structures from the Silk Road era many of them ruins but it’s pretty cool to be in a missed such old old history. After visiting the ruins we stop to eat lunch, and the food and Turkmenistan has honestly blown me away it’s so good and I was not expecting it to be it’s just so good. We then cross the border from Turkmenistan to his biggest at Overland which is very interesting time are Guide Genia took us to the border took us all wait for the she could through Turkmenistan. Then we had about a 1 mile taxi ride which was actually a ride in a Turkmenistan military vehicle to the border with is Pakistan. Then we cross into his Pakistan met our guide Jana back and proceeded to Cuba which was about a 1 Hour Dr. We are very excited to be in is Becca said because we’ve heard so many incredible things and kiva is a city that not many people get to visit because it’s kind of far if you’re not visiting him Turkmenistan. We have a full day to explore Khiva tomorrow and I can’t wait to share with you.
[Note the previous Notes ^ were made using Voice Technology on my phone, hence why there are many typing mistakes}
7 May – Khiva, Uzbekistan | Today we had a Full Day in Khiva (a small ancient city of less than 60,000 people) before taking our evening flight to Bukhara (a 30-40 minute flight). I realized that I didn’t write down all my thoughts from Uzbekistan like I had wanted so I am actually going back now (at the end of my trip as I am flying home) to go in and add some of the details that I will need to put together the articles & videos that I am creating – I will be making at least 6 videos and writing 6 posts from this trip experience, YES it was that incredible!
8 May – Today we spent the Full Day in Bukhara, a city of several hundred thousand people (larger than Khiva but smaller than Samarkand). We visited beautiful tiled mosques, learned a lot about the Silk Road, and really came close to the history and the people.
Today we are in Bukhara Uzbekistan. we’ve spent three nights in Uzbekistan so far after spending two nights in Turkmenistan. I forget to journal so I thought that I would talk about this as my mom and I are walking back to our hotel after a morning of shooting photos. We found that the best time to be outside in his back a stand is between 5 AM and 8 AM because it is not hot there are no people and the light is beautiful for taking photos especially when you’re looking at taking photos against the beautiful blue tiles that is Becca stand is known for.
We arrived to Uzbekistan from Turkmenistan, crossing the border to our first city of Kiva. Kiva is a city of about 60,000 people it’s a wide city and it has a lot of history we only stayed one day there because it’s a very small location and we have a lot of places to see while we’re here but it was absolutely beautiful and we got to learn a lot of really cool things who’s Becca STAN is the country that is most well known along the silk road route which carried silks spice is another precious goods from China all the way to Europe going through the far East and middle east which is where a lot of the caravan stations or stops were along the silk road. Kiva book Gotta and some Arcand the three cities that we will be visiting Rebecca center three stops along that route which is pretty cool. It’s fun to be in a place that has such ancient history ancient architecture even ancient textiles ancient silks and see people living such a great modern life so I’m a take a step back we’re on a bus all day today and recap the past for five days that we’ve had in Turkmenistan it is Becca stand before I forget it. This will hopefully help him help me make some really great videos at the end the trip which I plan to do so that all of you can visit is Pakistan and the rest of the Silk Road countries Monday bye
9 May – Today we traveled to Samarkand via car stopping by the homes of a culinary artisan, silk work artisan, pottery artisan, and more… it was a great day PACKED with adventures. We arrived in Samarkand late in the evening (as usual) because there was just so much to do!
10 May – Today we spent the Full day in Samarkand. Did you know that Samarkand was named after the legend of a boy and girl that fell in love? Samar and Land were their names (I most likely will do a video on this as well). Samarkand is probably my favorite city in all of Uzbekistan and has so many beautiful things to see and experience. I woke up at 5am every morning to walk the city streets before all the tourists escape their hotels (something I would recommend that everyone do during their visit to Uzbekistan).
I will be making several videos + Blog posts on my time in Uzbekistan and can’t wait to share them with you all. I had 4 incredible writers with my on my trip (Rachelle, Susan, Anna, and Preethi) so I plan to have at least a dozen incredible articles to share with you all. If you have any questions on what my experience in Uzbekistan and the Silk Road was like please do ask me! This is a place that I know I will be back to soon, there are just too many undiscovered and hidden gems in this area that people should discover. Not to mention the people are some of the kindest and most hospitable people I have ever met. Uzbekistan was such an incredible experience that I will absolutely never forget!
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11 May – Today we departed in the morning to travel onwards to to Tajikistan, home to the beautiful Pamir Mountains. I have heard so much from my friend Ryan about Tajikistan and it’s mountains that it is exciting for me to finally be here experiencing it. By the time we crossed the border it was already the afternoon, and our guide Davud was there to meet us. I must say that he is one of the most incredible (and funny) guides I have ever had. Anytime I go back to Tajikistan I will be sure to request him to be our guide. We stopped at a lovely local restaurant for lunch, visited a famous site along the Silk Road Route, stopped by the Bazar, and called it an early evening so we could overnight in Penjakent and wake up refreshed and ready to go in the morning!
12 May – Today we departed Penjakent for Iskander Lake, on our way to overnight in Dushanbe. We were able to have lunch on the lakeside which was absolutely incredible. I love being in the mountains, partially because I spent most of my childhood growing up in the mountains. It’s such a special place for me to go, feel relaxed, and feel close to nature. A dream job of mine (although I am essentially doing my dream job now) would be to cover stories for National Geographic and other incredible publications – thus I am working on both my writing and my photography to be able to share the experiences I am having with others. Over the past couple of years I have improved a lot and as I am traveling to all these unique countries I can’t help but come up with lots of ideas for articles and videos that I want to make. In fact, I’ve created an article and video for Tajikistan that you will be able to watch and read and hopefully be inspired to visit one day for yourself.
13 May – Today we spent the full Day in Dushanbe exploring the local market, nearby fortress, and many other incredible highlights. Originally we were supposed to fly back to Uzbekistan in the evening at 9:30pm, but our flight got postponed until 1:30am which I thought would be a headache for our group at first, but they actually took it very well. Thus we spent half the night at the Hilton in Dushanbe (the capital city of Tajikistan) and half the night at our hotel in Tashkent. To Be Continued as a part of the next day, as it is already the 14th May.
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14 May – We took our early morning flight to Tashkent and were met at the airport by our guide Jonibek (a great guide who was so knowledgeable about the region). We were able to spend a full day in Tashkent exploring many of the highlights of Uzbekistan that we weren’t able to see in the 3 Silk Road Cities (Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand). It was a great day, with lots of great food (actually too much great food), lots of shopping for the ladies, history to be learned, and great friendships made. I will be finishing my video on Uzbekistan here shortly, so do stay tuned for that!
15 May – W e are on our way to Kyrgyzstan, and I am so excited to experience a completely new and different country! We spent the morning exploring Tashkent, before taking an afternoon flight to Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrygystan. We arrived in Bishkek late in the evening, had a few moments to stop at a delicious restaurant for dinner (all the restaurants in Central Asia look like something straight out of an Anthropologie Magazine – they are absolutely beautiful!)
16 May – In the morning we did a brief city tour of Bishkek (where we stumbled upon a fashion show and got to talk with so many girls around my age). It was a blast! We continued on in the afternoon to the lakeside where we were able to camp in a yurt (which was absolutely an incredible experience). In the evening we even got to see traditional horse games (including a game known as Dead Goat Polo) that is played throughout Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan.
17 May – Today was our last full day in Kyrgyzstan, and thus was full of so many different adventures! First we explored a beautiful canyon, then we swam in the lake, saw traditional falcon hunting, and ate lunch in a yurt in a beautiful gorge (that looks like Switzerland).
18 May – Today was our last full day together as a group. We departed from Kyrgyzstan early in the morning and crossed the border into Kazakhstan. It was a very empty border crossing, meaning that there weren’t many people (but there were lots of goats and lots of cows). My Facebook & Instagram share it all – so go check it out there. As a part of this trip we have taken 4 flights across borders, and done 4 overland border crossings. Overland border crossings: Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan; Uzbekistan – Tajikistan; Kyrgystan – Kazakstan
It’s been a great mix of both, seeing how each country is beautiful – yet so different. I plan on writing a piece on My Favorite Country in Central Asia, as it is actually quite hard to choose. I absolutely loved Uzbekistan for the culture, history, architecture, food, and much much more (I’ve heard that it is very similar to Iran – which is a place I would love to visit one day). That being said, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were absolutely stunning for trekking, mountain landscapes, and active adventures. Between those two regions it would be extremely hard for me to chose a favorite.
19 May – Today we spent the full day exploring the highlights of Kazakhstan. I could write a lot of details outlining here outlining what we did & saw, but instead I am going to paste my script for the video I created (of which I will also be publishing a blog post). My goal has been to publish 1 video and 1 blog post each week (despite how busy I am traveling during the days and working at night). This will ensure that I continue to share my experiences with all those around me! I will say one thing about Kazakhstan tho, it’s interesting how much people’s freedom of speech is suppressed in countries like this – people can’t say what is actually on their mind (as there is usually one person at the head of the government that controls everything). This was a common theme throughout Central Asia, in addition we never really hear about how much those under the Soviet Union suffered during the World Wars + the Cold War. Over 30 million people from the Soviet Union (Russia) lost their lives in battle, labor camps, or by the actions of the KGB – it’s really sad how much we don’t hear about this in the Western World.
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20 May – We boarded our flight to Moscow, Russia very early this morning (i.e. we left the hotel at 3am) our flight routes via Russia to New York City and then onwards to Salt Lake City. I am traveling with my mother and we tried really hard to get a 24 hour lay-over in Moscow so we could see the city highlights, but unfortunately at this time it is very difficult for Americans to get Visas to Russia (i.e. it takes a long time and is quite expensive for only spending 1 day in the city). Anyways we will get to spend 2 hours in the airport and then catch our connecting flight onwards to the USA. It’s been a fantastic trip but I can’t wait to get home and see Andrew, as it’s been almost a month since we have seen each other.
Conclusion: The great thing about traveling on trips like this is that you meet so many incredible people from the locals to the travelers you are with. I am putting together some incredible trips next year including Senegal to Ghana, Svalbard & Greenland, Ethiopia, Antarctica, etc… and many of these ladies will be traveling with me again – it’s so fun to have a group of women of all ages (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s) that you get along with so well. I love it! Not to mention, it’s always a special experience to be able to travel with my mother!