AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN, UZBEKISTAN, BHUTAN
Boarding my flight from Thailand I find it hard to believe I was only away for a few weeks. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Bhutan all offered a unique experience. The two days sitting on a beach in Thailand was the cherry on the cake.
Turkmenistan was quite the soviet shock, whiles Uzbekistan was full of incredible history and friendly people. Bhutan was something completely unique in itself and gave me another taste of why I will always love that part of Asia.
I’m not sure there is a specific highlight but I will always remember the train ride and Silk Road in Uzbekistan. Walking into a cabin of 3 local men not able to say more than hello and to be offered all they had for nothing in return will stay with me for sure. It’s times like these that I love and remember more than anything else.
It varied a bit throughout my trip. Turkmenistan is rather isolated and therefore people aren’t used to the likes of me wanting to strike up a conversation so it was quite rare. Uzbekistan on the other hand was a different world and not enough can be said about the locals there. Bhutan was again a little tamer but the guide and driver were fantastic and always keen to go over and beyond what was expected of them!
If you aren’t up to scratch on your geography then you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Stans aren’t the safest but in reality you couldn’t be future from the truth. These countries were without doubt some of the safest I’ve ever been, my home included!
My first few days in Azerbaijan weren’t blessed with the best weather but I was desperate to make the most of my short time here before heading off to the bizarre country that is Turkmenistan. Here the streets were spotless and quiet, it was hard to know if anyone actually occupied the buildings in the new city. Later I took a trip up to Darvaza where our jeep broke down in the middle of the desert. It was -10* but with the help of a local we made it to the Gates of Hall, a unique experience.
- PEOPLE – 8/10
- ARCHITECTURE – 8/10
- HISTORY – 8/10
- BACKPACKING – 9/10
- WEATHER – 8/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7/10
- FOOD – 3/10VALUE – 7/10
After some visa problems the day before I crossed into Uzbekistan without fuss and had a day to enjoy the sites of Khiva. Next on my way to Bukhara I was roomed in with some of the friendliest people I have met. I hadn’t planned on visiting Bukhara but the guide had given me no option and changed my booking to suit and he was right, Bukhara was stunning.
A visit to the Silk Road in Samarkand was next on the agenda before I made my way to the capital and met up with Bec who I met on the Train. From Tashkent I flew to Bhutan via Bangkok and enjoyed 3 days here checking out temples, climbing up to the Tiger’s Nest and eating some more questionable food but it was all good experiences!
WOULD I RETURN
Full honesty disclosure here but Turkmenistan didn’t offer me much beyond a culture shock and Bhutan was fascinating but at times lacked much atmosphere. Uzbekistan offered everything in abundance and enough for me to want to revisit – food aside!!
- HIGHLIGHT – The people of Uzbekistan.
- LOWLIGHT – Our jeep breaking down in -10*.
- MVP – The boss of Avantor for making me go to Bukhara.
- VISIT AGAIN? – YesRATING – 7/10
This is a part of the world that requires more effort than most and my expectations were far out. I didn’t expect the modernised city of Ashgabat or the architecture of the Silk Road in Uzbekistan but I couldn’t complain, that’s why you travel isn’t it?
The Big West African Series. Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been to this part of the world, what was your experience like?
- Which is your favourite stan?
- Did you like the locals?
- What is your favourite thing to do?
Let me know in the comments below . . .