Of the usual 5 countries, our limited time, cost of airfare (yes, this is important) and visa - we decided on three and forgo Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Many asked, why Central Asia. Why not? The beautiful Kyrgyzstan and the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan. Umm.. Kazakhstan is a bit of a cheat, we were only in Almaty and to be exact, two days in Almaty before taking our flight out.
I have been toying with the idea for awhile and at the end of last year before Christmas, I was browsing some books in a book shop. Lonely Planet travel books were on sale and the one which caught my eye - Central Asia. I was a little hesitant to buy it as there were no firm plans and I didn't want the book to be outdated. In addition, I was running low on both funds and annual leave. A friend told me it would still be ok, and I would probably jet off in the next five years. I didn't really need too much persuasion to bring the book to the counter.
For all who are worry about safety in travelling to Central Asia (excluding Afghanistan), the Australian smart traveller advised a DFAT1 & DFAT2 overall. There are some concerns over the borders between some countries due to landmines or security issue. For everyone (who are concerned about us), we avoided land crossing by flying and also to save time. However there are many who do land crossing.
This time I actually flew out of Melbourne on a Wednesday night to give us enough time in Kyrgyzstan. I had 2 transits - Guangzhou and Urumqi and my flights were with China Southern.
|N = night, A = afternoon, M = morning, E = evening|
27/08, Day 01 - Transit in Guangzhou and Urumqi* (Yuyuan Hotel)
28/08, Day 02 - Bishkek* (Hostel Nomad)
29/08, Day 03 - Song Kul* (Yurt stay booked with CBT Kochkor)
30/08, Day 04 - Song Kul*
31/08, Day 05 - Bishkek* (Hostel Nomad)
01/09, Day 06 - Bishkek*
02/09, Day 07 - Bishkek. Morning flight to Tashkent* (Jahongir B&B Tashkent)
03/09, Day 08 - Tashkent*
04/09, Day 09 - Tashkent. Afternoon flight to Urgench, taxi to Khiva*. (Mirza Boshi)
05/09, Day 10 - Khiva* - day trip to Elliq Qala
06/09, Day 11 - Khiva*
07/09, Day 12 - Khiva*
08/09, Day 13 - Khiva. Morning shared taxi to Bukhara* (Sarrafon B&B)
09/09, Day 14 - Bukhara*
10/09, Day 15 - Bukhara*
11/09, Day 16 - Bukhara. Travelled to Nurata, followed by Kyzyl Kum Yurt Camp*.
12/09, Day 17 - Left Kyzyl Kum, reached Asraf Village at Nuratau Mountains* by noon. (Yahshigul Home stay)
13/09, Day 18 - Left Nuratau Mountains in the morning, reached Samarkand* by noon. (Jahongir B&B Samarkand)
14/09, Day 19 - Samarkand*
15/09, Day 20 - Left Samarkand in the evening for Tashkent* (Jahongir B&B Tashkent)
16/09, Day 21 - Afternoon flight to Almaty* from Tashkent (201 Lessor Apartment)
17/09, Day 22 - Almaty*
18/09, Day 23 - Night flight from Almaty. On flight*
19/09, Day 24 - Overnight transit in Urumqi* and connecting flight in Guangzhou at night (Golden Beach Hotel)
20/09, Day 25 - Reached Melbourne in the morning.
Note: * referring to where we overnight
Side note: My ex-boss told me that I'm only allowed to go to Kyrgyzstan when I know how to spell it correctly. LOL.. I do now ;)