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What to see in Karakol-Kyrgyzstan

Located at the crossroads of Central Asia, the city of Karakol in eastern Kyrgyzstan is a fascinating gateway to the region's diverse history, cuisine, and nature. Many unique cultures contribute to the town's culinary history and cultural heritage: Kyrgyz, Tatar, Russian, Dungan, Uighur, Kalmyk, Uzbek, and more. And with both the Tian Shan Mountains and Lake Issyk-Kul nearby, you'll discover limitless outdoor adventure .

This video will show you through some of the more "local" things and places I visited whilst there. Bearing in mind this was photographed by me back in 2012.

I hope it gives you a flavour of the place....

Posted by TheJohnsons 08:26 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains trees sky architecture water view nature park hiking landscape culture temple religion scene travel church mountain green tree river adventure scenery blue valley building panorama summer beautiful heritage wild hill national rock old scenic forest central natural asia ancient tourism historic outdoor landmark peak outdoors alpine kyrgyzstan kyrgyz karakol 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 The Big Year Out & Photos of us & 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 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-Yumen Pass or The Jade Gate

In 2012 I took the minivans that do the trip out to the Jade Gate on the historic Silk route. Everyone had to go through here to access either China or the Central Asia continent and beyond into Europe. This is where my Silk Route Journey finished and my South East Asia Trip began.

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Posted by TheJohnsons 20:35 Archived in China Tagged sky architecture water desert tower view nature landscape history travel vacation province scenery china blue building famous sand heritage hill castle rock stone old road historical scenic yellow sunny wall dry antique ancient tourism historic chinese outdoor gate landmark pass silk dynasty jade ruin gobi han dunhuang gansu yumen fangpa Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Hua Phan Menhirs, Hintang

During 2013 I was travelling at the later end of a Year across Central Asia and SEA. Whilst in Laos which I covered extensivey up in the North near Sam Nuea I vistsed these Menhirs

Some 110 km (70 miles) northeast of the famous Plain of Jars in Laos is a less well known but equally mysterious series of archaeological sites: the standing stones of the Hintang Archaeological Park in Houaphan Province, not far from the border with Vietnam.

These megalithic sites are located in the mountains about 35 km south west of the sleepy provincial capital of Sam Neua. The two most important sites are San Khong Phan and Keohintang.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:51 Archived in Laos Tagged sky view nature park landscape france monument culture history travel green grass rocks italy heritage stones rock stone old historical field big sightseeing tourist standing site destination europe ancient tourism historic outdoor landmark bronze celtic archeology outdoors european age carnac neolithic prehistoric megalith nobody megalithic menhir prehistory menhirs alignment tamuli basaltic Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Anau Fort Turkmenistan

During my journey along the Silk Route in 2012-2013 I visited Turkmenistan, here are my pictures from the Anau Fort just before we entered the Karakum desert. Both stunning places that I had to share

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:40 Archived in Turkmenistan Tagged architecture mosque monument culture religion history travel fort town city building famous house day castle stone old historical muslim medieval wall east asia middle ancient architectural historic fortress outdoor landmark oriental ages archeology syria syrian islam ruin arabic fortification orient citadel turkmenistan complex aleppo past islamic monumental Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Persepolis

During my "Silk Route" journey in 2012 I travelled through Iran and of course the route Alexander the Great took to Persepolis the ancient City of Persia. Now in ruins, this UNESCO World Heritage is one that you really need to see to understand and get a feel of. The area of the site is vast and seems to just keep going and going. It is pretty amazing to walk around and imagine how it would have looked in the 4th century.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:34 Archived in Iran Tagged sky architecture monument culture history travel ruins statue palace city king blue world sand heritage sculpture stone old historical outside unesco site capital wall east middle antique ancient tourism historic sight iran persia persepolis carving gate landmark archeology empire shiraz persian dynasty ruin iranian relief nations excavations basalt bas-relief achaemenid xerxes Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Necropolis at Naqsh e Rustam

During 2012 following the Silk Route of Alexander the Great I visited Iran, and persepolis and this great Necropolis; Naqsh-e Rustam where the great kings of Persia, Darius and Exercese and Artaxerxes I Makrocheir, Darius II Nothus. A beautiful landscape and a place I will always remember....

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:33 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture desert monument culture religion history travel ruins statue mountain province king tomb heritage hill necropolis rock stone old historical cross unesco destination wall east asia ancient tourism historic iran persia persepolis cultural grave empire shiraz darius persian fars dynasty iranian relief antiquity naqsh-e naqsh achaemenid xerxes rustam artaxerxes rostam Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Ipoh

Historical Walk Round Ipoh
The amazing Heritage walk round one of my favourite Malay towns of Ipoh where the food is amazing too! The heritage walk is about 4 miles long covering most of the historically important places and might take approx. 2 hours to complete all the places. In fact I am so keen for you to find out about Ipoh, I am attaching links for free heritage walk maps and info on Ipoh. Yep FREE!! Below the Video

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Posted by TheJohnsons 21:18 Archived in Malaysia Tagged sky architecture sunset view nature park landscape culture street travel mountain train town square green malaysia urban city blue white building famous holiday summer beautiful heritage rock stone old road historical skyline tourist scenic station cityscape railway attraction sunny asian natural asia tourism historic vintage landmark majestic background perak ipoh Comments (0)

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