Category Archives: Travel

I swear I would have scaled that bloody glacier! (a weekend in Shymbulak)

My last days in Almaty were spent high above the city’s smog and traffic, in the mountains that loom over it’s streets.

On Saturday, I met a friendly Brit at the breakfast in the hostel and we took a bus to Medeo together to see the ice skating ring. Caught in between seasons, Medeo and the surrounding ski resorts were a bit weird to visit: the ice ring had no ice yet, and the lifts up the high glaciers were out of service due to maintenance.

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At the empty ice skating ring in Medeo

While I hadn’t planed on ice skating, I had really looked forward to going up to the high peeks to see the views. In fact, I’m very inexperienced when it comes to mountains. Only once I’d been up above the tree line, that was at 2.200m in the Polish Tatras and I loved it. Going up to Shymbulak was my secret plan to rise above 3.000m, something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. Continue reading I swear I would have scaled that bloody glacier! (a weekend in Shymbulak)

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Why Kazakhstan might very well be the “Greatest country in the world”

Kazakhstan you mighty beast. How swiftly have you won over my heart!

Right after arriving in Almaty, I contacted my hostel staff and asked them to help me book a tour to the Kolsai Lakes. I had been looking in to going there independently for a long time, but in the end it seemed too much of a hassle. I suppose it involves taking a marschrutka for the first part and then hitch the rest of the (very unpaved and pretty deserted) way. Since I don’t hitch hike alone and Western travellers are so incredibly thin on the ground in Kazakhstan, I decided not to waste time looking for crazy souls who would like to join my quest and instead paid a shit-load of money for a two day tour. The itinerary looked good though: it took in all the sights I wanted to see and included a home stay in one of the mountain villages. My signing up was a solid decision indeed.

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Continue reading Why Kazakhstan might very well be the “Greatest country in the world”

Almaty, city of a thousand colours

My arrival in Almaty instantly revealed how different the city is from Shymkent, and in a good way.

After having a semi-comfortable sleep on the overnight train and spending the morning fruitlessly trying to communicate with the Russian crowd around me, I walked down into the shiny new metro and up to the rooftop terrace of my hostel. Nice!

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A hostel with a view

Continue reading Almaty, city of a thousand colours

Shymkent police is watching you

My stay in Shymkent has been one of sleeping in, drinking tea and drawing people at the market. I also got a one minute detention in the police office at the bazar, but more about that later.

First, let me give a little update on why I was stuck here with waaaaaay too much time on my hands, yet did not head out earlier. Continue reading Shymkent police is watching you

Underwhelming Turkestan and my first impressions of the “Borat country”

Kazakhstaaaaan, greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.

I’m aware that it’s the cliché of clichés to start my blog about this country with some Borat lyrics… but then it is the only song I could think of while crossing the border, and I had to try really hard not to sing it out loud. I’m pretty sure Kazakh people don’t like it… and they a have good reason. As soon as my little Marshrutka escaped the hectic border land, I could see that their country is nothing like the Borat movie (which is in fact recorded in Eastern Europe). Continue reading Underwhelming Turkestan and my first impressions of the “Borat country”

I shaved for nothing: a short recap on my two week trip through Uzbekistan

My journey through Uzbekistan has come to an end.
In this post I’d like to give you a little recap of the places I visited, what businesses I recommend and how I got through immigration control at Chernyaevka border crossing. Continue reading I shaved for nothing: a short recap on my two week trip through Uzbekistan

Weddings and ruins in Shahrisabz

On my last day in Samarkand, I decided to make a little day trip out of the city to the ancient town of Shahrisabz. Jean and I had met a local in the Registan that came over to help me bargain the price for the shared taxi down, and after that I was on my way.

The drive was beautiful, over a small mountain that offered hazy views. It was the first time that I saw anything than flat desert in Uzbekistan, so I was indeed very pleased when the driver offered to stop so I could take some pictures.

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Gorgeous views from the mountains between Samarkand and Shahrisabz

It takes about two hours to reach Shahrisabz (depending on the car you’re in, I suppose. Traffic isn’t much of an issue but road conditions definitely are). Continue reading Weddings and ruins in Shahrisabz