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Altyn Arashan valley- Kyrgyzstan 2012

Altyn Arashan valley

With 90% of the country land above 1500m in elevation, Kyrgyzstan has some amazing valleys. Altyn Arashan is one of the most famous ones for its dreamy landscape and hot springs. It is even more enjoyable that it is not so easy to reach it!

During 2012 during my journey across Central Asia and following the Silk route to China, I spent two months in Kyrgyzstan. This trip to the hot springs was a trip I shall never forget in the beaten up but bullet proof UAZ 452 (Commercial) Part minivan, a throwback to times long gone when things were made to last. The beginning of the road looked smooth but as you can see (although pictures cannot really show it), it quickly became rocky and bumpy, and sometimes unbelievably accessible!

Many times we crossed animal groups that were being moved to higher grass fields for the summer. Other old soviet vehicles, and horse riders, it is a great place if you want to get around on a horse, hacking is one of the popular activities there. We went for the hot springs and they were worth every minute, we had one to ourselves and your hut will be next to the river(well not far), a concrete pool will have all the perfectly clear,clean hot spring water you need. Afterwards we had a perfect picnic nearby and then the return teeth juddering journey back!

I hope you like my slideshow if so please subscribe, I am always working on new ones from my actually visited destinations.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:45 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains sky horses view nature park hiking landscape traditional travel mountain trekking green grass tree river adventure white valley summer beautiful wild hill national rock stone animal scenic forest cliff central sunny asia climb gorge tourism outdoor peak cloud outdoors meadow alpine kyrgyzstan background karakol arashan altyn-arashan altyn cloudscape tian-shan 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-Mount Phousi- Laos

During my travels round Laos in 2013 I visited Luang Prabang and visited Mount Phousi and enjoy the stunning views of Laos.
I hope you enjoy it too!

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:49 Archived in Laos Tagged sky architecture view mount nature park landscape culture temple religion traditional travel statue mountain town green tree river buddhism jungle city laos golden famous sun beautiful heritage wat road forest unesco religious destination sights buddhist attraction asian tradition asia southeast ancient prabang luang tourism brick landmark lao phousi horizontal spirituality Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Graffitti and Street Art Singapore

In 2013 I was in the amazing city of Singapore where I sought and found some of the wonderful street art you will see here in this slideshow

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:35 Archived in Singapore Tagged art architecture home view landscape singapore culture traditional street travel town thailand malaysia urban city new china white building house heritage window light red old festival wall asian beauty asia antique tourism shop style chinese vintage outdoor landmark design decoration colorful classic symbol exterior facade background draw vector illustration peranakan Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Aydar malikmadove Musician in Tajikistan

Ayadar Malikmadove is the leader of the village of Yamg near Langar in Tajikistan. During my tour through the Wakhan Valley we stopped in Yamg and were treated to Ayadar's famous hand crafted Guitars used for traditional folkk music of this area. I was very honoured to be allowed to video him performing, and to have been a part of this moment. He also is curator for a small and personal museum of the history of the area and it's people. If you are planning a trip through the Wakhan Valley Ayadar's place is a must stop point.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:32 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged art wedding culture traditional performance dance hand holiday country music concert party national old object neck macro central focus asian asia details style sound musician folk oriental closeup musical classic cotton instrument decor wooden finger song decorated device strings string uzbek elements melody turkmen dutar lute fretted chord tajik rubab selective tajiks Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Vinh Long Food Market

In 2013 I was on my last leg of my year out in Central and South East Asia. Vietnam was my penultimate country on this epic journey. Today's slideshow brings you a taste of Vinh Long in the southern Mekong Delta. It actually sits on the Cổ Chiên River,a branch of the Mekong. It is widely visited and quite famous for it's Cai Be Floating Market , but it also has an amazing food market on Land, so here it is...

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:29 Archived in Vietnam Tagged people sky sea food architecture water boat ocean coast nature landscape beach culture traditional travel ship village river province vietnam blue island fruit sand summer floating life south beautiful bay tropical tour long trip destination asian asia lifestyle mekong tourism vietnamese brick outdoor construction indochina delta background vinh Comments (0)

The Big Year Out- Live footage of the Bamboo Train Battamban

In 2013 i was in Cambodia as part of my bigger Central and SEA tour for just over a year. In Battambang I took what is fondly referred to as "The Bamboo Train", their proper name is a Norry or Nori and can get upto speeds of 50kmh. It certainly felt like it!! Norries have low fares, and are frequent and relatively fast, so they are popular despite their rudimentary design, lack of brakes, the state of the rails (often broken or warped) and the lack of any formal operating system. Its simple construction and light weight means that a norry can be easily removed from the track – if two meet on the line, the one with the lighter load is removed from the rails and carried round the other. At the end of the line the vehicle is lifted and turned.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:27 Archived in Cambodia Tagged taxi nature landscape traditional travel vacation train ride cambodia tracks green tree province jungle way countryside rural old transport transportation track plant tourist forest holidays railway attraction asian asia bamboo tourism rail railroad vintage outdoor landmark vehicle engine outdoors fast vegetation cambodian trolley wheels motion battambang nation rundown undeveloped warped Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Ürümqi

In 2012 I crossed from Kyrgyzstan in the the Western corner of north China, along my one month journey across China, I stopped at many places and this is a quick snapshot of one of my favourite Chinese Cities, Ürümqi. A very big city that has managed to keep hold of it's historical architecture and modern buildings in an eclective mix. Along with three amazing and beautifully landscaped parks along with their own historical buildings which have been made central features to value them and where they can be appreciated by many.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:26 Archived in China Tagged art people trees sky snow architecture view nature park landscape traditional street travel mountain lake urban scenery city china blue white building panorama summer hill day office skyline tourist cityscape reflection asian natural beauty asia image tourism chinese outdoor landmark cloud skyscrapers outdoors modern skyscraper xinjiang urumqi uyghur artificial Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-The Registan

After having travelled through Turkey, Iran, and Turkmenistan, we entered our fourth country on our journey along the Silk Route, Uzbekistan. I recall it being a very dry and dusty country, or maybe that’s because most of my destinations in Uzbekistan were like this. It just seemed that Tashkent (the capitol) was the only place to have full and free flowing water and grass and trees. Outside of Tashkent it seemed like time had stood still and you could still get a feel of the days of the Caravansary that used to dot the country along the Silk route. Here a slide show of one of the most beautiful and iconic places in Uzbekistan, The Registan, in Samarkand. Yes it really is that blue. Thankfully the Russians although supressing any kind of Religion during their occupation, did have the foresight of restoring after many earthquakes much of the Registan as you see it today. Working as recently as 1987, twenty years of hard work and money and people with patience and the eye for the historical detail have made The Registan great again!

Posted by TheJohnsons 21:11 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged art sky night architecture mosque sunset monument culture temple religion history traditional travel square eastern city building heritage dusk mosaic old road muslim medieval central asia ancient tourism historic dome landmark decoration pattern silk islam ceramic illuminated ornament tile exterior facade uzbekistan minaret samarkand complex islamic madrasa registan madrasah samarqand sher-dor Comments (0)

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