Meet the ‘stans: Kyrgyzstan

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Meet the 'stans

Kyr…Krygs…Kyrgstan?

Kyrgyzstan – a Central Asian country you just may not have heard about. Let me introduce you to a brother of ‘the ‘stans.’

A mountainous country landlocked between Uzbekistan to its west, Kazakhstan resting north, Tajikistan southwest and the dominating China to its east — Kyrgyzstan duly boasts the textbook beauty you’ll hear from travellers of the region.

(© iliketowastemytime)

Certainly, as a Brit, the sheer vastness of the Central Asian countries and further afield never ceases to leave me in awe. When the Tien Shan mountain range covers over 80% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory, the downs where I live in southeast England don’t quite compare, as beautiful as they are. Despite its mountainous terrain and somewhat isolation as a result of its geography, Kyrgyzstan played a heavy role in the famous Silk Road route, among numerous others throughout its history. Continue reading

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Meet the ‘stans: Kazakhstan

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Meet the 'stans

For the next up in the ‘stans’, we now shift our gaze to the 9th biggest country in the world: Kazakhstan.

Note that this country is easier to spell than Kyrgy…Kyrgyzstan. Also, you may just have heard about this country as it was somewhat infamously portrayed in the film Borat and through Sacha Baron Cohen’s exaggerated character. Let’s just cast those associations aside and focus on the true nature of our Central Asian celebrity for today.

(A pretty big country … © aboutkazakhstan)

Continue reading

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Meet the ‘stans: Uzbekistan

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Meet the 'stans

Fun fact: Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country. This means that it is a country landlocked by other landlocked countries… lanlock-ception? There are only two doubly landlocked countries in the world, the other being Lichtenstein — which makes for a pretty impressive  fact if you ask me.

Power of the People

You can experience all the wonders of a country ­— from landscape to the architecture, cuisine to climate —but in many cases the resonating impact of the country travelled can often be the locals themselves. When I hear negative travel stories, more often than not the disappointing experiences involve an unfortunate encounter with natives of the country they have travelled to. The problem with a negative spell is that it can form a loud echo of your travels, despite the numerous positive experiences.

But Thomas, what does this have to do with Uzbekistan? Continue reading

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Meet the ‘stans: Turkmenistan

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Meet the 'stans

Possibly the most interesting country in our Central Asia band of brothers, Turkmenistan is often labelled the North Korea of Central Asia. This ‘stan sits as a crossroad of the region and serves as a vital stop of the ancient Silk Road — the caravan route to China — like many of its neighbouring countries. Nowadays, the country is best known for its vast gas reserves, a former president who developed a personality cult, and the current mad-about-horses president. Both these geezers have enforced an autocratic rule over a rather impoverished state, despite its enormous gas wealth.

Being so closed off to the world is an allure to travellers as it makes us want to check it out more. Whilst its recent ruling may have given it a skewed image, we mustn’t forget that it is a country of great ancient history.

Let’s start with that. Continue reading

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