View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

That was a LONG day...

Writing this at 8:30am Friday morning local time at New Delhi airport. Yes, it was a LONG day and we're only half way there!

Our flight from Almaty wasn't scheduled to leave until 2:40am.... stupid o'clock. But, that's what you get when you only spend $222 USD ($301 CAD) for the IndiGo Airlines one way flight each from Almaty to Bangkok, connecting in New Delhi.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

And, we're off to Bangkok!

Our original plan was to go up to the big Shymbulak Ski Resort yesterday. Not to go skiing, although we would have liked to but it's still too early in the season. We just figured we'd go up and do some more hiking, and just enjoy the views. Apparently the lifts are open, even though there is no skiing yet. 

But we were both feeling a little bit stiff and tired!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A nice day up in the mountains of Kazakhstan

Yesterday morning, we took a taxi up into the mountains. Our goal was to get to Big Almaty Lake, but there was a lot of conflicting information online about whether or not the road was open, and we didn't know how much snow was going to be up there.

When you use the Yandex taxi app, it's very similar to Uber... when a driver is assigned to you, you can see the rating of the driver. This one was fairly low, but I didn't think anything of it at the time.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Not often we splurge on a meal out

There is a big indoor market here in Almaty that is supposed to be quite something. So we walked over there yesterday morning to check it out, and were disappointed to find it was closed. Not sure whether this was a one time thing, or perhaps it's closed every Monday which is entirely possible. Maybe we'll try again on Thursday before we leave.

However, there were some food stalls open, so we decided to take advantage of that. One place was serving the popular local dish plov, and it looked really good.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Too bad about the smog!

Almaty would be a really nice city except for one thing... the smog is horrible. You don't really notice it when you're just out wandering around the city itself, but when you get to a higher viewpoint you can really see how bad it is.

Yesterday we hiked up to Kok Tobe, which is the top of the closest hill overlooking the city. There is a cable car that goes up there as well, but we thought it was too much money, plus we wanted some exercise.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

It was good enough, but we wouldn't return

It took us until noon to get it together yesterday! That's what happens when we stay out late. But it was worth it, and we had fun! Besides which, it's fairly chilly overnight and the sun doesn't really come up until after 8:00am and then it takes a few hours to warm up a bit. 

Of course we'll be warming up soon enough!

Well, that was a fun day!

We relaxed in the apartment for the morning, then set off around noon and headed for the central area of Almaty to see some of the sights. And to get a local Kazakhstan SIM card for the phone.

Almaty is a fairly big, modern city, with a population of about two million.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Welcome to Kazakhstan... Country #65 for us!

We were up at 6:00am Thursday morning. I had read that the bus to Almaty left at 8:00am, and every two hours after that. So the plan was to arrive at the bus station around 7:00, and hope to able to get on the 8:00am bus. And if not, we would have to hang around the bus station for the 10:00am bus.

We ordered a Yandex taxi at 6:30am. It was pouring rain outside.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Out for a hike in beautiful Ala-Archa National Park, Kyrgyzstan

We are so lucky that November has been warmer than normal here in Kyrgyzstan. Apparently last year at this time the trails were already snowed in. 

So we took advantage of the opportunity and went for a hike in the mountains. Originally, we were going to get dropped off at the first entrance gate to the park, but our taxi driver talked us into going further.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Great day with beautiful views of the mountains!

The reason we chose this hostel located on the southern outskirts of the city of Bishkek is because the mountainous Ala-Archa National Park is also located south of the city. And there are some nice walks you can do right from the hostel itself.

So yesterday, we packed some snacks and took off into the foothills...

A little bit of Bishkek

We've only got three days here in Bishkek. And while we're not here for the city itself, we figured we had better use one of those days to see some of it.

Our hostel is located about 8 kms (5 miles) south of the city center. We purposely chose this location so that we could be closer to the mountains, which are also south of the city.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Flight to the big city of Bishkek

Yes, another city. We aren't really doing Kyrgyzstan the justice that it deserves, however we're hoping to make up for that somewhat here in Bishkek. 

Yesterday evening, we flew from Osh to Bishkek. We would have preferred to do the drive, while stopping at several places along the way for a day or two here and there, but it's a 12 hour drive through the mountains and many accommodation places are closed up there for the season. We're simply not here at the right time of year to explore the scenery the way we want to.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

We got out into the countryside and met some interesting people!

We hopped in a taxi yesterday morning and got ourselves about 10 kms (6 miles) south of the city into a more rural area. There was a detour that the taxi had to take on a dirt road, but the road had no traffic, and the scenery was pleasant enough so we just stopped him right there and got out and walked.

We didn't really have a destination in mind... just to get out of the city.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Views over Osh, Kyrgyzstan

There is a small mountain right in the middle of the city of Osh. Of course there are trails all over it, but there is also a museum... built into a cave right on the side of the mountain. It's very strange, so of course we had to hike up there.

But first, we needed flight tickets! We wanted to fly to Bishkek on Sunday. There is no train from here, and it's a 12-14 hour drive through the mountains. So for a cheap 45 minute flight, it makes sense. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

We lost an hour somewhere!

We thought we were doing okay getting out of the room yesterday morning at around 9:00am and heading down for some breakfast and hot drinks. But we got into the kitchen, and I saw the kitchen clock... reading 10:00am!

We quickly clued in to the fact that maybe we lost an hour somewhere!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan, country #64 for us!

Wednesday was a travel day for us as we made our way across the border from Fergana, Uzbekistan to the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Border crossings are always interesting, and you never know how it's going to go. This one was definitely interesting!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Silk factory in Fergana, Uzbekistan

On Tuesday, we took a taxi from our apartment in Fergana to the nearby town of Margilan. 

Still can't believe how ridiculously cheap taxis are around here. And using the Yandex app (similar to Uber), it's so easy! The taxi ride was about 13 kms (8 miles) and took about 25 minutes. The cost was under $2 USD!

Monday, November 13, 2023

That was a very cool thing to do!

We were up at 6:00am and took a taxi to Fergana Airport in order to be there for 7:00am. 

The small airport was actually fairly busy because there was a scheduled flight to Moscow departing soon. We made our way to the booking desk where we had been told to check in for our flight to Sokh.

This ought to be fun!

Writing this Monday morning at 7:00am in the waiting area at Fergana airport. 

Where are we off to? The Uzbek enclave of Sokh! And we're going to fly in a 55 year old Russian biplane to get there!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Tashkent to Fergana train ride

We like traveling by train, and here in Uzbekistan it's both easy and inexpensive. The ticket booking website is in English and is easy to navigate, and you simply pay by credit card.

On Saturday, we took the train from Tashkent to Fergana, a five hour trip.

Back to the cardiologist

On Thursday, I had my other eye lasered. You can read about that in yesterday's post. But the cardiologist who confirmed that I was okay to have the laser repair said that I did in fact have a separate issue that I should have checked out. My blood pressure was too high!

So I was to come back and see her at 9:00am Friday for some tests. I was going to put it off until Thailand where I was planning on having some tests done anyhow, but I figured it would be cheap to have these blood tests done here. And it was.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

I didn't plan to end up at the doctor's in Uzbekistan!

Long time readers will remember that we both had refractive lens exchange surgery in Turkiye two and a half years ago. 

But I developed a common condition called posterior capsule opacification in one of my eyes, and I had that repaired in Belfast, Ireland at the beginning of July. At the time, they mentioned that the problem was developing in my other eye as well, but it didn't bother me enough to do anything about it yet.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Return to Uzbekistan

By 6:30am, we were out the door and on to the road in front of our rented apartment in Dushanbe.

Our flight to Tashkent didn't leave until 10:30am, and the airport was only a 20 minute taxi ride, but I had read horror stories of customs problems at Dushanbe airport where they target foreign travelers with bribes etcetera so I wanted to make sure we had lots of time to deal with that if a problem came up.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Another cultural experience to remember

Regular readers will remember the other day when we crossed the border from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan and we met Ali, another customer in the shared taxi to Panjakent. 

He really looked after us, and said that his sister lives in Dushanbe and would like to meet us. I gave him my WhatsApp contact info, so we could keep in touch.

There's a language we haven't heard much of!

We relaxed for the morning, then after lunch we went for a long walk here in Dushanbe. There were a couple of other attractions we wanted to see. 

Our apartment is located in the north end of the city, so we pretty much have only one route to get to the main area south of here, and of course we've done part of that route several times now. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Dushanbe is an interesting city

99% of you will have never heard of the city of Dushanbe. I admit that until I started researching this trip, I had never heard of it either! But Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan, and is similar in size to our hometown of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Population about 1.2 million.

Dushanbe is a modern city, and I'm surprised that it's not more popular with western tourists. There is even a five star Hyatt Regency Hotel. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

If we careened over the edge, seatbelts were not going to help!

Woke up to another beautiful clear blue sky in the Fann Mountains at Iskanderkul.

The plan for the day was to make our way to the capital city of Dushanbe (pop 1,200,000). The only question was "how are we going to do this??"

Our caretaker friend Hamid came by and brought us some more bread and boiled eggs, and we think he said that all we can do is try to flag down a passing car. 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

We never saw a single cloud the whole time!

We didn't have much in the way of food available for yesterday. We had some snacks only. So when we woke up, we didn't have any breakfast.

But then there was a knock at the door...

Friday, November 3, 2023

Welcome to Tajikistan, country #63 - What an adventure!

Thursday was a travel day. We planned to leave the guest house at 9:00am, and make it through the Tajikistan border and into the town of Panjakent by 11:00am. Then find a shared taxi that would take us to Zeravshan-2 where we could somehow catch a ride up to Iskanderkul Lake and then the tiny mountain village of Sarytag.

But right from the beginning, it didn't go as planned!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

We are off to Tajikistan!

On Wednesday, we walked to a less touristy part of Samarkand. It's actually a nice city. Lots of park space, and crews of people constantly cleaning and sweeping leaves, even into the evening. 

Beautiful sunny day, with a forecast high of 19C (66F). But with the sunshine, and no wind, it actually felt warmer than that.

October Expenses - Yikes!

We know that when we do a trip to an oddball country, it's always an expensive endeavor. But this most recent oddball trip, to Turkmenistan also involved the cost of getting there from Eastern Canada. 

And, although we use the $CAD for our expenses, most of the trip was priced out in $USD. And the $USD has been on a tear since July and now sits at over a three year high vs the $CAD. Not only due to $USD strength, but also $CAD weakness.

Bought some more flight tickets!

And finally, I am all caught up on the blog posts. Not having internet access while in Turkmenistan for five days meant that I was playing catch up since we got back online!

So the post you are reading now actually details what we did yesterday. And one of the things we did yesterday was some more onward travel planning.