Beijing can be almost unbearably hot in summer, so getting out of town can be a relief. May I recommend taking the metro out to the scenic Shichahai district in the northern part of the city?From the centre of Beijing, several busses and a few metro lines take you to Shichahai. I took metro no 8 directly. Very easy. (You [...]
Mohammed Rakhim Khan MadrassahIn the last post, I told you about our journey to see the environmental tragedy that is the disappearing Aral Sea. Time to move on. We leave Muynak and the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and head south into the Khorezm region and its capital, Khiva.Driving along the Turkmen border much of the way.Like Karakalpakstan, Khorezm is a [...]
What does dark tourism mean to you? Do you think of Auschwitz? The fields of Flanders or Cambodia's killing fields? Chernobyl? Robben Island? Pompeii? The Berlin Wall? Places where barbaric acts of terrorism have taken place? A walk in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper or a visit to the sordid sides of Edinburgh of the past? Some might even [...]
I'm about to write a little something about China's Grand Canal, yet another fascinating engineering marvel, when I'm reminded, I haven't told you about my monetary misfortune at that very spot. I really should, as a cautionary tale. Grand Canal will have to wait. Again. So here is a do as I say, not as I do-story. Do not fall [...]
Hello hello, good people, and welcome to another episode of wild and wacky Turkmen tales.We can't travel at the moment, but we can reminisce, and invite you along for the ride here in Sophie's World.Why yes, that IS a burning gas crater behind us. And very windy, too.Turkmenistan outside AshgabatSince you're reading this post, I'm going to assume you're curious about [...]
It was oddly difficult to decide how to headline this post. The 11 things-series: a tried and trusted format. Transfixed in Turkmenistan: so fitting. As usual when I can't decide, I choose both. Always works out, somehow. But enough of that; let's get on with this most peculiar of lands. Or rather, of stans. Where to even begin? As strange [...]
Thinking of driving the Pamir Highway? It's one of the world's epic road trips (possibly the most epic), through the wild landscape of the Pamir Mountains, and along the equally wild Panj, the river that forms the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. You'll drive across lunar desert landscapes, past stunning turquoise lakes and golden meadows. You'll spot Marco Polo sheep [...]
Considering a visit to Dushanbe and wondering where to stay? Dush-where, you ask? Well, Dush is where it's at. Skopje, Pristina, Astana, Pyongyang, Vaduz, Chisinau - you may remember I'm forever intrigued by the quirky and often lesser-known national capitals of the world. A city of 800 000 people, and formerly named Stalinabad, Dushanbe is the capital of ... I'll wait while [...]
At the end of a mind-blowing road trip along the Pamir Highway (which you can look forward to in a later post), my two fave travel friends and I are in Osh. Driving most of the day from Karakul Lake across the border in Tajikistan, we arrive in town late afternoon. We had booked a couple of nights in Osh, [...]
What do you think of when you hear Kazakhstan? OK, let's get it over with: Borat. If nothing else, Sacha Baron Cohen did place Kazakhstan on the map. Enormous flat steppes, once the secret home of Soviet gulags and a nuclear weapons testing zone. Also, once the secret home of the Soviet space programme: this is where Yurij Gagarin, first [...]
As this goes to publish, flight schedules on point, I’ll be ambling about the airport in Constantinople (something about that name…), Central Asia bound yet again, and I was reminded I still haven’t told you about the rock carvings in Kazakhstan’s Tamgaly Gorge. Now, Tajikistan will be the major player this journey. We will be in Kazakhstan only for a [...]
It’s early evening; the sun is slowly setting. As I wander through the gate in the bright red wall and into the park, I wonder: if I travel ever westwards, how fast will I have to go to see a perpetual sunset? A continuous magical golden hour? Let’s see: if we stick with the Equator, Earth is about 40 000 [...]
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