I have found myself in an unusual but exciting position. Unexpectedly, I am able to take 6-7 weeks extra paid holiday this year. The circumstances are too boring to explain.
I am not from a wealthy background, but I am now in a comfortable position in my life: I have a job I enjoy and a nice flat I own, and over £15,000 in the bank. There is nothing I need to accomplish in the immediate future.
I usually take a two week holiday each year with my partner (who has not had the same lucky chance this year - I will have to travel alone, and still be able our usual holiday together), and I am at a slight loss on how to use this opportunity.
I would like to travel - hence the post on this board - and I am interested in any comments or suggestions. Any trip would be in the second half of 2023 - so current wars have to be considered.
I am currently looking at Central Asia or China, as I have never visited here and my Mrs has no interest in going herself. Has anyone done a similar length trip in this area? Has anyone done a month long language course?
I am also a keen hiker, and interested in any long treks of suitable distance.
There has been a recent thread about Central Asia and studying Russian there:
Thank you,. great thread.
How were you physically travelling around the area (hire car/train/etc)?
I do speak rudimentary Chinese, which was pushing me toward Mongolia/China rather than the former USSR (as I do not speak a word of Russian)
Interestingly, Mongolia seems to be more Russian influenced than Chinese influenced:
>Today, Mongolian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolia, although in the past it was written using the Mongolian script. An official reintroduction of the old script was planned for 1994, but has not taken place as older generations encountered practical difficulties. Schools are reintroducing the traditional alphabet. In March 2020, the Mongolian government announced plans to use both Cyrillic and the traditional Mongolian script in official documents by 2025.
>Russian is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, although English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.
>I do speak rudimentary Chinese, which was pushing me toward Mongolia/China rather than the former USSR (as I do not speak a word of Russian)
I would avoid China this year, their border policies are not reliable enough yet to plan anything as a tourist.
Mongolia just announced a large visa-free period to boost tourism, not sure how that will work out for them, expect lots of Chinese there.
The former USSR -stans have been back to normal for over a year now (excluding notorious Turkmenistan), making it kind of stable to plan things.
As a bong, you'll get visa-free access to four of them, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are great for hiking, especially since they haven't been flooded by tourists yet.
Even Uzbekistan, the most tourist-appealing country of them is very calm compared to anything in the West or East.
English speaking only Amerifat here. Thought about doing Uzbekistan and maybe Kyrgstan or Tajikistan. How difficult will it be for me to get around. I've been around places like LATAM and SEA solo and was looking for something more challenging. Is Uzbekistan Airways decent?
It's a tad more challenging than Eastern Europe but nothing impossible.
Higher language barrier and worse traffic but less petty crime.
Just follow the advice of
, learning the alphabet is crucial, anything more than that is optional but will bring you a lot of goodwill, especially if you manage to remember some phrases in the local languages as well.
>Is Uzbekistan Airways decent?
They're not bad, even for a flag carrier, same applies to Air Astana, the Kazakh flag carrier.
Budget carriers like FlyArystan or SCAT are also more than decent.
All Kyrgyz airlines are banned from EU airspace for "safety" reasons, but a flight between Osh and Bishkek is still safer than the ten-hour drive between the cities.
Not worse traffic than SEA though right? I was in Mui Ne recently and saw I could make out "massage" and a few other words in Cyrilic. I guess worse case, I can use Google Translate. Is seeing Tashkent and taking the fast train fhrough Samarkand to Bukhara and back through the Ferghana Valley to see Osh, Issyk Kul, and then flying out of Bishkek in three weeks feasible. Would go late September/early October.
>Stay out of southeast asia like thailand/cambodia or whatever. Most depressing places I've ever been. The only people that like them are sex tourists and sex tourists who larp like they just happen to be fascinated by random buddhist temples
That is possible.
I would minimise the time spent in Tashkent and look into an overnight train between Samarkand/Bukhara and the Fergana Valley.
I read that they have high speed rail. One full day in each city before transiting to the next?
They have HSR between Bukhara/Samarkand/Tashkent, anything else is conventional.
The good thing is that they have daily overnight trains between the major cities, so you can save time and money by spending a night on the way to the Fergana Valley on the train.
>One full day in each city before transiting to the next?
Samarkand needs at least two days, even if you rush between sights.
Anything else I should know? I think I'm leaning towards Kyrgyzstan as a second country. I'm kind of looking for the next level of travelling. Like I've said I've done Morocco, SEA, and LATAM. Fergana Valley seems a bit sketchy.
Kyrgyzstan is nice, underrated in my opinion.
Your route would lead you to Osh, the city is doable in one day, from there you either take a shared taxi through the mountains if you want to see the scenery or a 30-bucks-30-minutes flight to Bishkek. Booking the tickets from outside Kyrgyzstan in advance is difficult, but outside public holidays you can just buy tickets for the next flights in town or at the airport.
Bishkek is a typical Soviet Republic capital - boring to visit, nice to live in, you can see the sights within one or two days.
As for Issyk-Kul, you can spend your time there in a variety of ways, relax in some lakeside resort, visit the minorities in the city of Karakol, beautiful hikes in the mountains surrounding it. There are a couple tour operators based in Karakol like Visit Karakol or Destination Karakol, check out their websites for inspiration even if you don't plan on using their services.
I saw that I didn't mention Caravanistan, the single most useful English site for Central Asia travel. The articles can be a bit outdated on 2019-level of info, but the associated forum threads are usually kept recent.
>Fergana Valley seems a bit sketchy.
You very well be pleasantly surprised, especially when compared to Morocco.
I meant in terms of ethnic cleansing as opposed to god awful touts.
There are people born after the Andijan riots/massacre that will enter university this year.
Currently, the most worrisome place in Uzbekistan is Karakalpakstan but even there it's as peaceful as it can get for a tourist.
I heard more went down around 2010. Plus Tajikistan got into a skirmish of sorts with Kyrgyzstan in the past year.
True, forgot about the 2010 happenings on the Kyrgyz side.
Again, local happenings don't really affect tourists asides from border closures and recommendations to avoid certain places that are not of interest for a visitor.
Of course, you should always be aware of the safety situation and not get yourself into potentially dangerous situations like protests, just like anywhere else in the world.
Yeah, I haven't been in warzone since I was a zogbot, and I'm sure ISIS some offshoot's floating around. I think the artillery exchange was way south of Osh this past year. Like I said I'm trying to get a little more Real Traveller™ this time around, but I want to know what I'm getting myself into.
As much as I like mainland China as a tourist (great value for money, great scenery, fun), this is important.
I wouldn't worry about Russian. You can pick up basic Russian in no time. Just learning the alphabet helps a lot. I never learned Russian before, only spent my flight to Kazakhstan to learn the basics. It was enough. The more, the better obviously. But like the Hi/Thanks/bye/this/1,2,3,10/where/when takes you a surprisingly long way.
My point is: don't worry about the language too much. Eg. public transport systems and whatever are incredibly similar around the world.
Maybe worry about ATM locations, don't carry the whole 10k £ with you.
Mongolia is kind of shit bro. Extremely polluted and the people are the rudest I've encountered in my 80 or so countries, on top of the weather sucking ass and the women being indistinguishable from the men except for their wrestling ability. I've heard it's good to ride a horse through the countryside or whatever but also somewhat dangerous with like bandit type dudes. They also have a neo nazi nationalist group that attacks mostly chinese and koreans, but whites too sometimes. Just did not have a good experience at all there personally
Spend a month studying Russian in Almaty or Bishkek, ask your waifu to travel a week in Uzbekistan with you.
Seconding Bishkek, the living costs are still low enough that you can do 3 to 4 days of private lessons a week and do outdoor stuff on the 3 to 4 day weekends.
>How were you physically travelling around the area (hire car/train/etc)?
Depends on the distance and terrain:
Sometimes it's shared taxis, sometimes trains and sometimes even flights, domestic ones can be fairly cheap.
seeya in a bit anon. hope your thread goes well.
Bro if you've never traveled you should probably stick to europe, AUS, or the US to get your feet wet. Asia can be overwhelming because of the culture shock and also it's a little bit more "wild west" than western countries. If something happens, you'll have almost no recourse. Shit medical care, corrupt/inept police, etc. I mean obviously it's doable but you'll have much less stress in a western country. Plus china has draconian responses to any kind of internal problem or covid outbreak and you could easily find yourself in a nightmare situation there that you would never end up in in europe. That being said, if you do go to asia, i highly recommend taiwan, korea, japan, singapore, indonesia, malaysia, the Philippines, and macau (for a day or two). Never been to mainland china but i imagine it's like hong kong but shittier, and hong kong is already kind of dingy. Stay out of southeast asia like thailand/cambodia or whatever. Most depressing places I've ever been. The only people that like them are sex tourists and sex tourists who larp like they just happen to be fascinated by random buddhist temples
I can tell by the way you write that youre a low testosterone beta male. You probably "decompress" instead of getting blackout drunk and listen to ambient music instead of beating the shit out of someone who slights you. I bet you don't even say moron in public