Coming back home: Hong Kong-Zaragoza. Central Asia

The border crossing between China and Kyrgyzstan through the Torugat pass was very exciting. After gathering a group of five people and hiring the services of an agency, we left on June the 13rd. Once we passed the Chinese controls between Kashgar and the border, we managed to cross into Kyrgyzstan. We arrived just at lunchtime, so as soon as we crossed over to the new country, my dear Chinese people, who had treated me so well during the last 58 days, closed the gate and went to eat. Yes, only one gate separated me from China. My entry into the country in Shenzhen came to my mind, with all that technology and digital photos. It seemed very poetic to leave the country between smiling greetings and the closing of a padlock at 3,752 meters high. Goodbye China, I’ll be back soon …

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Melancholy soon gave way to the usual joy of arriving at a new place. Kyrgyzstan was the country I most wanted to meet in Central Asia and exceeded my expectations. In fact I was going to stay about two weeks and in the end I stayed 33 days. The journey from Kashgar ended in Naryn, a small village that I liked a lot and where I decided to stay a few days with some of the traveling companions. Kyrgyzstan was going to be a country of landscapes, friends and World Cup. I had shared the van with Sue and Janet from New Zealand, Joseph from Malaysia, Malween from France and Rebecca from New Zealand, all of them great. With Malween I made a very special friendship because we have a similar sense of humor and we love mountains. Two days later we planned a hiking with the aim of finding a shepherd who would lodge us in his yurt to spend the night. After a lot of hike, we found this lovely couple.

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Their main activity is obviously livestock. They are constantly milking their horses to make Kumis (or Kymyz), a drink based on fermented horse milk that has a peculiar flavor that foreigners don’t like so much…

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After some more hikings in the small village of Kochkor, we arrive in Bishkek, the capital. There I stayed three days until the Uzbek Embassy opened and I could apply for my visa. While it was being processed, I traveled to Almaty, one of the two main cities of Kazakhstan. Almaty is a rich city, with numerous cafes and restaurants. I did not like it so much and besides they eliminated Spain from the World Cup by penalties, but well, it was good to visit. I liked this memorial from the WWII that reminded me that it started in 1941 for the Russians…

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I returned to Bishkek, I picked up my visa and traveled to Karakol. There I met Malween again and spent four great days in the mountains with a wonderful couple of Belgian friends, Marie and Roman. As a reward for those four hard days of mountain, in the yurt where we stayed the last day the owners set a TV to watch the semifinal between Belgium and France. Malween enjoyed a lot…

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The following days I got closer to the border with Tajikistan. I crossed the whole country from east to west until I reached Arslanbob, where after some last hikings I said goodbye to my beloved Malween and went to Osh. There I hired a transport in a 4×4 to travel the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, the only possible way of doing this. I shared a car with Anne and Andreu, from Germany and Barcelona. We spent six wonderful days between beautiful mountains and raging rivers. The border with Afghanistan was on the other side of the river that we followed for more than 300 kilometers, so the hikings we did during the six days allowed us to see the summits of Afghanistan and those of its neighbor Pakistan.

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Once in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, it was relatively easy to hire another transport to the border with Uzbekistan in Penjikent, recently opened to foreigners. When crossing the border there are a lot of taxis that take you to the legendary Samarkand, only 35 km away. I spent five days there before starting to cross the country diagonally. I liked the city although less than I expected. The same thing happened to me in the cities I would visit later, Bukhara, Khiva and Nukus. The memory of Iran was present all the time in Uzbekistan, not being able to avoid the comparison between both countries, in which Iran always won. But I did some great night walks though 🙂

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But my head was already somewhere else. As the visa for Turkmenistan was problematic to get and I had already visited Iran in the spring of 2013, I decided to change my initial route and continue my journey across the Caspian Sea from the Kazakh city of Aktau to the Azeri of Baku. In Samarkand I met again with Sue and Janet who were also interested in this journey, so we decided to make the 28 hours train between Nukus and Aktau together. This trip was one of the best experiences so far. I love trains, and eating instant noodles at two in the morning in a third-class car while everyone sleeps and the little wind from the open window relieves the heat of the day, it’s something very nice 🙂

Once in Aktau another adventure began, which was to find a boat and to buy a ticket for it, but I’ll tell you that in the next post. Right now I am writing to you from Baku (Azerbaijan) and tonight I’m taking a night train to Tibilisi, Georgia’s capital. I’m going to spend the next weeks in Georgia and Armenia before heading to Istanbul. I really want to visit these two countries. For Armenia I have to deviate from the route because its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed but it is a country that I do not want to miss. I post a map of my past route and the one that is to come. See you soon 🙂

Captura de pantalla 2018-08-19 a las 13.36.42

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