Central Asia has been a top destination for me for the past few years – so much so that I often forget that many people don’t really know what the region entails when I mention it.
Where is Central Asia?
Central Asia is the region composed of all those silly little countries that end in -stan, like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. It’s smushed somewhere between Russia, the Middle East and regular Asia. It’s also a part of the world that’s little known to the travel community, but more and more people each year are adding it to their travel itineraries.
Mountains and Steppe
The landscape of the countries in Central Asia varies from rolling steppe (like in Kazakhstan) to straight up mountains (which compose 94% of Kyrgyzstan and 93% of Tajikistan). These areas are great for hiking and trekking, and skiing is becoming more popular in Kyrgyzstan (photo). Yurt stays on the rolling hills make for adventures that introduce you to the traditional culture of the area.
Plus the scenery is just made that much more beautiful by the mountains. I used to sit in my Russian class in Kyrgyzstan and stare out the window at the nearby Tien Shan range for half of it.
Ancient Cities of the Silk Road
Central Asia’s rich history is tied to the Silk Road. Imagine a trade route that ranged from China to Istanbul and passed through Central Asia. I find it exciting to travel this part of the world now – just imagine what it would have been like ages ago to see Central Asian jewels like Samarkand! Central Asia is a history buff’s play land.
“Interesting” Food and Drink
I use the term “interesting” lightly because, to me, half of it is awesome and tasty, but the other half is beyond my taste. In Bishkek, the capital city, there is a mix of many great cuisines, including Kyrgyz and Russian, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and even Georgian. But, then there are just those dishes (and drinks) that have more traditional, nomadic Kyrgyz routes – like Kumiz and Besh Bar Mak. Dishes that involve fermented horse milk and sheep fat on noodles are not my thing.
However, it is “interesting” nonetheless.
Would you ever consider a trip to the exotic lands of Central Asia?
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