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Old 12-26-2006, 05:51 PM   #1
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Default My plans for the summer: Central Asia!

Hey guys! I know it's been quite a while since I've been on this board, but have had the most ridiculously busy couple of months at uni and had no time to myself.

Despite this, I've made a few travelling plans. Firstly, on friday I'll be flying to Slovenia, then taking the train to Belgrade in Serbia, where I'm staying with some friends for New Years Eve. They've made plans for a huge group of us to party in the streets until 2am, when we'll be getting a party boat and partying until the wee hours. Afterwards I'll spend a few days back in Slovenia before heading home.

This summer however, I think I'm ready for the ultimate trip. Two years ago I spent 1 month in eastern europe with a friend. Last summer I spent 2 months in eastern europe on my own. Now, this summer I plan on spending a full 3 months (my entire summer holiday) travelling from Istanbul to Hong Kong overland, through the middle east and central asia.

The ideal route would be to traverse Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China (including Tibet). However, I realise this may be optimistic with the current political situation, so in the case I cannot get an Iranian visa, I'll go through Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and then take a ferry to Turkmenistan instead. Then incase Turkmenistan becomes a problem (which seems possible due to the recent death of president Niyazov), I'll get the ferry from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan instead, and head south to Uzbekistan to pick up the trail.

I'm hoping to book flights for the trip in a couple of weeks after doing some final logistics research and working out the finances. This will be an ultra budget trip (around US$30 a day to cover everything including transport and accomodation (flights, visas and insurance excluded)) so needs a lot of optimising. If anyone has been to any of these countries and can offer any insider information at all it'd be appreciated.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:03 AM   #2
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That would be an adventure.
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:08 PM   #3
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Awesome, simply awesome. I've always wanted to do the Silk Road, so you'll have to give us the scoop when you get back. It sounds like you've been thorough planning for any difficulties you may encounter. Ever since I read a National Geographic article on "The Stans" (Kazakistan, Uzbekistan, etc.), I've been itching to get there.

Anyway, I think I j-u-s-t might have you to thank for being able to go to Albania. I showed a buddy at work your photo page of your trips to Eastern Europe, and he was intrigued, too. Scott is the guy I went to Lithuania with, and he's a linguist, and can teach himself any language, pretty much. He's been starting to learn a bit of Albanian, and I think I have him talked into a quickie trip there this early Spring.

If you have just 3-5 days to spend in Albania, what would you recommend?

Thanks...and I can't wait to read about your next adventure...keep us updated on the planning!

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Old 01-08-2007, 04:17 PM   #4
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With 3-5 days I presume you'll be flying into Tirana, so spend a couple of days there, then travel to Berat (couple of hours by shared-taxi if I remember correctly) for a day or two, definitely stay overnight though and spend the evening sitting in a street cafe and watching hundreds of people just walking up and down all evening. If you want any info at all, just ask.

In regards to my summer plans, I booked the flight to Istanbul 2 weeks ago, just before I left for Serbia, only to get back and find out that Israel has threatened to nuke Iran and Turkmenistan have closed their Uzbek border, so I'm pretty screwed at the moment. I haven't booked a return flight yet though so will keep an eye on what's going on and make a decision in february (by which time I'd need to start applying for visas).

My New Year's Eve in Serbia was incredbile beyond words, I'm a bit drunk now so don't want to go into detail, but I spent 4 days in Belgrade, a day in some town on the hungarian border and 4 days in Zagreb, where I met an amazing girl I hope to go back and visit at easter . I'll upload pics and details and due course.
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Old 01-08-2007, 04:49 PM   #5
 
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New Years in Siberia! That sounds amazing. Hope you had a realy, realy great time. Would love to hear about it, and see the pics.
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Old 01-08-2007, 05:01 PM   #6
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^^ justme, he spent NYE in Serbia, he's checking Eastern Europe first. But I agree... We want to see those photos!! This trip of yours is increadible!!! Tell us what your route is as you make it happen... you had a lot of options!!
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Old 01-10-2007, 10:55 AM   #7
 
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^^^
I meant to write Serbia. oops.
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:07 PM   #8
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I've taken way too long to update this thread. Well, my New Years Eve trip started with me flying with a friend of mine to Ljubljana, Slovenia on the 29th December and catching the night train to Belgrade. My friend in Serbia met me at the train station at about 7am in the morning after he'd been partying all night long, which was really great. That day I went to Subotica, a town 10km from Hungary and with very Hungarian influenced architecture, it was the hometown of one of my friends there. We went out partying to a bar playing classical Serbian folk music which was acually pretty good, plus the club was crammed full of girls!

The following day I was invited to lunch with a guy I met there, it was a traditional lunch with all his family and my friends, lots of meat, pasta and other such tasty treats. We then headed back to Belgrade for the New Years Eve party. This consisted of getting very drunk on Serbian beer, Rakia and Ukrainian Vodka. Needless to say I don't remember the entire night. I do remember being interviewed on Serbian TV, nearly being arrested for going to the toilet in the presidents garden (I didn't realise...), and having fireworks and flash bombs going off all around me all night. The bands on stage were pretty good too, and they even had an English countdown for some reason. We also celebrated New Year three times, once for our Belarusian and Ukrainian friends, once for Serbian and again for England.

After a couple more days hanging out in Belgrade we decided to go to Zagreb, Croatia. Having informed my local friends about this, one of them proceeded to get me a contact there, his ex-girlfriends sister who was happy to meet up with us and show us around.

The night train to Zagreb was terrible, there weren't enough seats so we ended up standing next to the toilet for the first 3 hours to the Serbian border, where enough people left for us to sit down. After arrival we were so tired we stayed in the first hostel we found, an absolute dump with grafitti all over the walls and tiles falling off the bathroom, and a blocked shower, lovely. Anyway, we met up with our acquaintance and proceeded to go straight to a bar, stay there all day and head off to a club in the evening. We did this for three consecutive days before heading back to Ljubljana to get the flight home. The club was a boat on the river Sava which had grounded as the water was so low, but really intimate and the people (mostly Croatian students) were very friendly and all spoke English.

You can see some of the photos (I'm still waiting for more to be sent to me from Serbia) at http://s51.photobucket.com/albums/f3...%20Eve%202006/ however they're all of me and my friends drunk, so not overly interesting from an outside perspective.
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Where I'm going: Cyprus (June 2013)
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:13 PM   #9
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Hehehe, I'm guessing from your photos that beer is quite cheap in E. Europe?
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:52 PM   #10
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Indeed it is :D

On the topic of my summer trip, I've decided to just go for it. I started by applying for my Iranian visa today, fingers crossed!
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Where I'm going: Cyprus (June 2013)
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:42 PM   #11
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Way to go, man! Keep us posted...I'll be living vicariously through you on this trip.

Oh, and for my own trip, looks like it'll be expanded to a week in Albania. My friend Scott is learning Albanian, and has shifted his vacation around to match up with mine. I started reading up on it, and am really looking forward to it...

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Old 02-27-2007, 03:55 PM   #12
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Well I just booked my return flight from Hong Kong to London for the princly sum of £75 including tax! Oasishongkong have a special offer on at the moment giving students a 50% discount, so I decided to take advantage and book it now.

As for my Iranian visa, despite applying a month ago, I'm still awaiting a reply... I have tried chasing it up a couple of times to be informed it's being processed. Will let you know as soon as I hear anything.

Mike, have you finalised your plans for Albania yet? Know when you're going and what you want to do?
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Where I'm going: Cyprus (June 2013)
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Old 02-27-2007, 05:49 PM   #13
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Are you saying that the regular price for the London-Hongkong flight is £150 ?!
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:13 PM   #14
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If it is, next year I will be traveling to China via London

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Old 02-28-2007, 01:21 AM   #15
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Yes, www.oasishongkong.com just started budget flights between London and Hong Kong, and they even provide 2 meals included in the price!

Thanks to taxes in the UK though, a flight from UK - Hong Kong costs £160 inc. tax and one from Hong Kong - UK costs £120 inc. tax.
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Old 02-28-2007, 04:50 AM   #16
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Wow, that's a really good tip!!
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:59 AM   #17
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:43 AM   #18
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Thats amazing!! Now if only I could find someone to fund that cheap price...I need a sugar daddy bad
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Old 02-28-2007, 03:14 PM   #19
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Well I have exams tomorrow, so naturally I've been procrastinating and come up with an itinarery for my trip.

Fly to Istanbul on June 20th

Turkey: Istanbul, Selcuk, Bodrum/Marmais, Cappadocia, Van
Iran: Tabriz, Tehran, Esfahan, Yazd, Shiraz, Bam, Mashad
Turkmenistan: Ashgabat (transit visa)
Uzbekistan: Nukus, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent
Kyrgyzstan: Osh, Bishkek, Lake Issyk-Kul
China: Kashgar, Urumqi, Xian, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong

Fly home from Hong Kong on September 20th

Of course it's all subject to change so if anyone has any comments/suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I'll be spending approximately 3 weeks in Iran and China and 2 weeks in all others (except Turkmenistan where I'll have 3-5 days). It is looking a little cramped as I like to spend 3-4 days in each place, but time is limited and I doubt I'll go to the region again for some time (if ever), so don't want to miss out on the amazing sights.

Check out the map: http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f3...ia07_route.jpg
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Where I'm going: Cyprus (June 2013)
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Old 02-28-2007, 04:28 PM   #20
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All I can say is that I can't wait to read your posts !
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