A Travellerspoint blog

Fairytale canyon "Skazka" Каньон "Сказка"

During my two month visit to Kyrgyzstan, a good amount of my time was spent in the beautiful Lake Issi Kul area.

Moving along the south coast of Issyk-Kul lake from Karakol town, before you reach the small village named Kadji-Sai, you have an opportunity to get into the most beautiful mountain landscapes.

The canyon was named because of its bizarre rocky landscape, which for many years has been transformed by erosion into amazing sculptures and formations. Some formations look like The Great Wall of China and you can also find other formations that look like snakes, dragons, sleeping giants and even whole castles. From the canyon you can see a majestic panorama of Lake Issyk-Kul and snow caped mountains.

Dedicated to my dear Photographer Compatriot; Natalia Arentseva!
This would make a great place for a photo shoot!

You can see Natalia's work here ; https://www.facebook.com/photographynataliaarantseva/

Posted by TheJohnsons 20:55 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains trees sky architecture tower view nature landscape canyon travel mountain trekking lake scenery blue building woods summer beautiful red castle romantic rock old medieval scenic forest land attraction yellow natural asia gorge tourism geology german landmark orange fairy european tale bavarian bayern kyrgyzstan fantasy fairy-tale issyk-kul fairytale skazka fuessen Comments (0)

Bishkek's Stretched Limos!

Bishkek stretched Limos, Why? I hear you ask? well Bishkek is a popular place for the Kyrgz people to get married and no where is more popular than the Wedding Palace.

A restored Soviet throwback (1987) which now serves as a very kich registry office, no religion here! Primarily because of the soviet ban on religious ceremonies. Instead they agreed to a multi faith building.

A cross between a church, a castle and a Temple on the outside its brutal architectural lines belie the interior "fairytale palace" sadly on the day we visited it was closed as October is the popular month for weddings!

On wedding weekends, (rented) luxury vehicles abound: decorated stretch limos and Mercedes lead the honking wedding convoys.

During the quiet season(when we were there) we were able to walk round and see some of the stretched limos waiting for their bookings, a bit like a Limo car park. Again there are some others besides the Hummers/ Lexus/GMC/ etc that are to be seen, there is even reports of a fairytale carriage style car(which, sadly we did not see).

Bishkek is an eclectic mix of cars many from the Soviet era, and they certainly like restoring and cutting and shunting some of the modern ones.

Posted by TheJohnsons 19:04 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Comments (0)

The Wakhan Valley

This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440 km it covers the full journey along the Wakhan Corridor of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

All the images were taken with my Canon 1100D and my two lenses the Canon Kit lens 18-55 mm and the Tamron 70-300mm(which I used mostly for this journey)

Welcome to my pictures from the Wakhan Valley. This was a journey through some of the most breath taking, unspoilt places on this Earth in 2012.

We picked up our car in Dushanbe and took the Wakhan corridor to Khorog and then onto mugharb, then the epic crossing to Osh in Kyrgystan. This is a longer than my usually video but documents the stunning Valley and mountains of the great Pamirs and stunning views of the Hindu Kusch. A road totalling 440Km

General info: Courtesy of; https://againstthecompass.com/en/wakhan-valley-tajikistan/ A guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan The Wakhan Valley is a mountainous region which belongs to the Pamir and Hindu Kush ranges, most of it being part of northeast Afghanistan.

For centuries, the Wakhan Valley was an important principality of the famous Kushan, a great empire which extended from southeast Tajikistan to the Ganges Valley itself in India. For this reason, despite being a very mountainous area, in the valley you find several fortresses located on the top of very high hills, offering the most epic and impressive views ever.

Historically, the region served as a division line between west and east Asia, so the valley became an important Silk Road route as well. In the 20th century, it also marked a clear border between the Soviet Union and the British Empire. With all this historical context, its incredible landscape, and awesome people, the Wakhan Valley is the ultimate adventure and a place you can’t miss in your journey through Tajikistan. By the way, even though most of the valley is in Afghan territory, the Lower Wakhan is located in Tajikistan which, unlike the Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor, is very easy to visit with just a bit of planning, a little money and following the advice shown in this comprehensive guide to the Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:08 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky water desert view wildlife nature park hiking landscape travel mountain river rocks clouds valley panorama holiday summer way life beautiful countryside hill day stone farm wilderness highway road shore cliff sunny flood asia tourism outdoor wallpaper corridor altitude riverside tajikistan pamirs wakhan afghanistan panj pamir khorog badakhshan wachan Comments (0)

Mahan Gardens Iran

Mahan Gardens Iran
Whilst staying in Kerman in Iran in 2012, and about too visit The Arge e Rayen, I first called at the oasis which is the gardens of Mahan.

The portal of this Persian garden as a clear structure frames the interior space of the garden so that when you stand under its arch, you face a beautiful scenery which comprises of the garden, the main pavilion and its fountains.

The interesting point about the fountains is that no electricity has been used for making the fountains work. The stream of water enters some crocks and then after reaching one of these crocks arrives at another of them which plays the role of elbows in today’s plumbing systems. The water then erupts out in the form of fountains and after passing the stone and mortar paved yard and then after passing the ponds which are beautifully placed upon each other reaches the main pavilion.

The choice and arrangement of plants and trees in Shazde Mahan Garden with its towering trees play a significant role in the identity of Persian Gardens. This garden with its fruitful trees paints colourful and scenic views during the fruit bearing seasons.

All in all, this garden shines like a priceless diamond in the centre of desert. Visiting this relaxing attraction is highly recommended for curious tourists. Wish you a pleasant visit!

For thise that are interested I have inserted a plan of the garden below
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Posted by TheJohnsons 01:09 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture water desert nature park fountain history travel plants province blue building world garden heritage historical holy muslim tourist near unesco site religious destination asia ancient tourism iran kerman persia landmark color decoration colorful persian ornaments century iranian march prince 16 2010 islamic built mid shia mahan shazdeh shahzadeh muddle Comments (0)

Arge e Rayen- Iran

Arge e Rayen- Iran

I wanted to visit Arg-é Bam on my trip along the Silk Route in Iran, but went to Rayen castle instead. When i saw a picture of Arg-e Bam I knew I would go there no matter what. To my regret the horrible earthquake of 2003 ruined it completely and many people told me that there is nothing left to see besides piles of rubble and few ruined walls (below the Bam castle before and after the earthquake).

The medieval mud brick city of Rayen is similar to the Agr-e Bam but smaller in size. It is extremely well preserved, despite numerous natural disasters that have destroyed similar structures nearby, and it is one of the most interesting sites in Iran. Arg-e Rayen was inhabited until 150 years ago and, although believed to be at least 1,000 years old, may in fact have foundations from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.

The outer walls of the castle enclose the main governor’s citadel, houses and other structures around the latter. Most of the houses are dilapidated and just few still stand but you can easily imagine how the city looked in the past. Especially with some of the continuing restoration that was/is going on.

Remaining walls and buildings were freshly covered with hay-mud mix in the course of reconstruction and you can see in one of the frames i took where this has been done, even the hay is still on the ground ready for mixing!

The castle is quite small and you will need much time to walk around. The most interesting part is the governor’s citadel. It has a square shape and many buildings on its territory, which include a governor’s bedroom, his office, rooms for official ceremonies and guests The whole area of the citadel is covered with a roof, with several staircases leading to up. The citadel includes several yards similar to traditional Iranian houses which have square form and no roof above them for access of light to rooms facing these yards.

You can climb up to the roof and the walls and walked around the citadel. From up there you can see all around the castle and will have a better view of the houses surrounding the citadel. The yards, rooms and other structures in the citadel are freshly renovated. You can see that some more lights will be installed soon here and there. A big hall looks like a kitchen and there may be a restaurant in the near future. Besides that all the spaces are completely empty.

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:34 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture desert tower culture history traditional travel fort mountain province city building world heritage mud castle rock stone old big medieval wall east asia middle ancient tourism historic brick fortress iran kerman bam persia construction landmark e persian protection era iranian citadel sandstone arg sassanid stronghold rayen arge pre-islamic mudbrick Comments (0)

Tajikistan


View Photos of us & The Big Year Out & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

Tajikistan-Introduction

Well to be honest we ummed and awed about going to Tajikistan, If I remember rightly we spent three days in Tashkent(over a weekend) deciding what direction we wanted to go into next!(we always knew Tashkent was a bit of a crossroads for us)I know you are wondering why we had not planned all our trip from start to finish, the idea was that we had a date pretty fixed (Turkmenistan’s fault) up to that point, and as we all know visas are not so flexible, they all want a start and finish date, and either a “where are you going next?” or a “Have you got an exit?” paperwork first. We knew we wanted to go Kyrgyzstan try and get through to China and we had to get our Kyrgz visa and Tajik in Tashkent if we were (see visa section). What we wanted at this point was a degree of flexibility. Well reasons debated were – Visa & its cost, cost, our own physical abilities, what we wanted to see etc.

Well I just want to say I am so glad we did, it’s a “no brainer” really! On all counts,Tajikistan meets all our concerns and then some. We have been absolutely wowed by the North, the SevenLakesof Shing, or their official name the Margozar Lakes, the stunning FanMountains, which no one should miss if they have time in their itinerary.

The first part of our stay in Tajikistan we did independently from Khojand [Khojand-travel-guide-1358665] –Istavarashan-Pendjikent. We booked our Northern,Fan Mountain trip through ZDTA in Penjikent, who managed to organise us transport and a guide in one hour. Be aware that we ended up with a private car and NOT a 4x4 as advertised, which did prove to come up short on more than one occasion. If you do book with them (yes we did email in advance but got no reply) be firm and insist on a 4x4. Their guide was superb and a credit to the company and gets paid way to little compared to other guides.

We visited six out of the seven lakes, stayed in some lovely homestay with some genuine and very hospitable peoples. They will be reviewed separately.

We stayed at Hamsafar Homestay/Guesthouse in Dushanbe, we arranged this through ZDTA, but had already had it in our sites of places to stay when we were researching Tajikistan. A creditworthy stopover for any traveller.

We had also decided that we would like to travel through the Wakhan corridor, down to the Afghan market at Ishkashim(which the Taliban managed to scupper), and through the Pamirs, we started in Dushanbe-Kala-I Khum-Khorog-Wakhan Valley-Bibbi Fatima Springs-Langar-Alichur, before finding that Angela did actually suffer from altitude sickness which hit her at 4,200mtrs, and having to make a hasty detour to Murghab(yes we had already stayed at 3,600mtrs at Alichur [Alichur-travel-guide-1193157] without incident), but remember at the higher altitudes smaller hundreds of mtrs makes a big difference to the body. So Murghab it was and Angela recovered well enough for us to spend two nights here before our progress onto Osh.

We booked this part of our journey through Pamir Guides with a Mitsubishi Pajero, more than man enough for the terrain we encountered. We delighted in the hot spring at Bibbi Fatima and thoroughly enjoyed our first stay in a Yurt at Alichur, where we enjoyed Yak Yoghurt and cream,(unpasteurised) and yes it is lovely, saw Yaks being milked etc. The scenery of the Wakhan and Pamirs is stunning, waterfalls, Snow topped mountains of the Hindu Kush, coupled along with desert environments, Geysers and abundance of wildlife made this a fascinating place to journey through. That is why I am only doing this short section of Blog; I will upload the pictures will I know will speak for themselves! I will add short editorials to accompany some of them.

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:11 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky architecture sunset view nature park landscape monument culture history traditional travel mountain trekking town lake city soviet building famous panorama holiday summer beautiful country hill top national stone skyline tourist scenic central destinations evening asia tourism historic state landmark peak wallpaper structure freedom government symbol tajikistan dushanbe pamir Comments (0)

The Fann Mountains

During my Silk Route trip across Central Asia I spent some of the best time I had in Tajikistan. In the North there are the Fann mountains and the seven lakes of shing, which are stunning. Here in this show you will see my view of these awesome mountains form my stop in an unmapped village called Sargob. Breathtaking views ans stunning blue skies (yes they really are that blue!) are worth the effort. Unlike most of the mountain ranges in Central Asia, the Fann showcases a unique blend of barren and verdant outlooks. Nestled amidst high mountains you will come across traditional villages and picturesque green meadows, turquoise lakes, gurgling rivers, and scenic valleys. Tajikistan is a paradise for mountain lovers, and as the Fann range is only a few hours driving from the Tajikistan capital, Dushanbe, you can combine trekking with an immerse cultural experience. On a footnote the music entitled "fond memories" was a perfect match and did remind me along with the images of "fond memories" of my time there.

Posted by TheJohnsons 23:40 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains sky snow water view nature park hiking landscape scene travel vacation mountain trekking lake green adventure sport scenery blue panorama summer beautiful top national rock stone road scenic high central destination reflection natural asia tourism recreation outdoor peak extreme tajikistan background pamir tranquil mountaineering terrain fann Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Gaochang

Gaochang

Here from my epic journey on the silk route in 2012/13 is my look at Gaochang in China. It was one of the highlights for me of the trip, I am a bit into ancient sites, I have a great connection with them, and I don't know why? Anyway I hope you get a taste for what out there and how the Chinese are trying to restore it!

Located 30 kilometres south-east of Turpan City, Gaochang, is an ancient city built on the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert and to the south of the Flaming Mountains. Built in the 1st century BC, Gaochang, was an important area along the Silk Road. It was burnt down and destroyed in the 14th century due to increased warfare. The old palace and city ruins can be seen today as they've been well-preserved.

Gaochang was once a fertile and prosperous city serving as capital for three western states in ancient times. The location of Gaochang was ideal as it was located in the middle of the Turpan Basin and the city’s layout was designed with high walls and deep moats, making it a significant military fortress for the Western Region for centuries. With an area of about 2 million square meters, the Ancient Ruins contain the outer and inner cities, along with a palace.

The layout of the city is similar to that of Chang’an (capital of the Tang Dynasty at that time, today’s Xi’an). It is said that, “If you want to learn about the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty, Gaochang Ancient Ruins will show you.” The outer city is surrounded by 11-meter high and 12-meter wide mud walls and nine city gates. The inner city is a 3-kilometer long rectangle that shares its southern wall with the Palace in the northern part of the inner city. A pagoda called, “The Castle of Khan” (meaning “Imperial Palace”) stands on a high stage there. With a history of about 1,300 years, Gaochang, has witnessed many ups and downs in the Turpan region. These delicate ancient ruins have been listed as precious cultural relics under state protection.

Posted by TheJohnsons 20:37 Archived in China Tagged architecture desert culture temple history travel ruins vacation fort mountain city china building cave sand place national stone old road bc destination buddhist attraction wall asian asia first antique ancient tourism historic chinese landmark cultural hall outdoors key silk century khan ruin basin protection relics xinjiang floor heat past lecture turpan units gentleman uyghur gaochang jiaohe tripitaka taklamakan tamrin Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Hotan Bazaar

Hotan Sunday Market
Hotan’ s bazaar is also called The Sunday market. Local people call it Chukubaza (meaning is low location market) located in the north-eastern corner of Hotan city. It is one of the biggest markets in southern Xinjiang. It has many special sections for the market. The Bazaar in Hotan is active every day, but the Sunday is special day, when it gets flooded by hundreds and thousands of people on Sunday. The kind of people who come to the market are people from seven counties of Hotan and some other prefecture of Xinjiang. They sell all kinds of special local Hotan such as beautiful styled dresses can be seen or bought and many sweet fruits and delicious dishes as well as snacks can be tasted. Minority Products and Souvenirs local made carpets and roll jade. local people say that it is possible to find everything accept Chicken milk, cows egg in Europeans style.
While you are in the market, please remember the word “posh” that means get out of the way in Uyghur language, as soon as you hear this word, please watch yourself. The best time to go to the market is after 8:30 AM Xinjian time.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 21:15 Archived in China Tagged sky sea oasis desert view park landscape monument ruins fort the of china white death sand door hill pagoda road bush black land moon asian dry out asia quiet relax chinese alone peace silk calm jade ruin basin tibetan xinjiang archeological awesome nur lop asiatic hotan solitary slowly tarim grit taklamakan karakax uigur yurungkash rawak Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Dunhuang Movie Set

Between our journey from Dunhuang to the Jade gate and the Yardang Geopark , we were taken to this movie Set, also the entrance gate of Dunhuang Movie Set known as Modelled Shazhou Town of Song Dynasty (960-1279), is about 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) south west of the city. The town, covering an area of 12,700 square meters (3.1 acres) was originally designed for the setting of the historical film Dunhuang in 1987. The film was made in cooperation with Japan and the set reproduced the layout and construction on a part of the famous scroll painting Qingming Shanghe Tu (The Outing at Bian River on Qingming Festival).

Dunhuang Movie Set presents its majestic appearance in the vast Gobi bearing a rich flavor of the west regions of China. Fully representing the military importance of the western regions in the Tang (618-907) and Song Dynasties, the complex here can give one an impression that the clock has turned backwards to ancient times. Gates are erected on the east, south and west sides of the town. The five main streets, namely the Gaochang, Dunhuang, Ganzhou, Xingqing and Bianliang, criss-cross each other inside the town. Various constructions with distinct characteristics of the Song Dynasty are scattered along the streets, housing arcades, temples, hockshops, warehouses, pothouses, restaurants, dwelling houses and so on.

Taking full advantage of its uniqueness for making movies with a military theme, Dunhuang Movie Set has become the biggest set for shooting movies in northwest China. More than twenty films and television series have been produced here, apart from the movie Dunhuang so far. You might be surprised to recognize the familiar scenes from one of your favorite movies when you are strolling around the town. So be prepared for the unexpected!

This scenic spot is very interesting both for its historical value for putting the vision of the ancient west China into perspective and for its important role in movie-making industry.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 21:06 Archived in China Tagged sky architecture oasis desert tower view nature park landscape monument culture history travel mountain lake buddhism province scenery china building famous sand sun hill pagoda old road scenic land moon spring dune asian natural dry asia camel amazing ancient tourism chinese outdoor landmark crescent silk gobi background dunhuang gansu Comments (0)

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