Travel tips thread - post yours!

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steven
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Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby steven » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:09 pm

So many travelers in the region, so many experiences. There is so much we don't know yet, mistakes we make over and over, or little gems we passed by unaware because we just didn't know. Caravanistan got pretty good at collecting this type of info for visas and border crossings. I want to take it further now and collect and categorize this other type of knowledge.

If you have been traveling in the region for a bit, you must have learned something.

  • Got in somewhere for free by waving some expired card?
  • Made an itinerary mistake you could not know in advance?
  • Perhaps you had unfriendly hosts on Song Kol, while your neighbours had an amazing time and free fish?
  • Found a cool building? Saw a wild bear? Talked to someone interesting? Ate something particularly delicious?

If you think it might be of use to others, let it be known here, I will try to make sure as many people as possible will be able to find it.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby bwv812 » Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:43 pm

Probably not what you're looking for, but there is a very believable report about the Japanese owner of the Sakura Guesthouse in Bishkek being caught in a very compromising position with a very drunk female traveler:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/pag ... 27110&v=2B

Like I said, this report is very believable based on what I saw of the Japanese owner while I was there, and solo females may want to exercise additional caution while there.

Also, I found that good, cheap, local food can often be had by asking vendors at indoor markets where they get their lunch.
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My 2012 overland trip from Tokyo to Istanbul: https://silkroadwanderings.blogspot.com

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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby steven » Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:21 am

bwv812 wrote:Also, I found that good, cheap, local food can often be had by asking vendors at indoor markets where they get their lunch.


This is a good tip! Your danger alert has been noted too.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby steven » Wed May 04, 2016 10:28 am

Check out Redinski's 44 Misc Tips for Iran: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1618
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby fyodorova » Thu May 12, 2016 7:00 am

We wrote a blog post with all the things we wish we had known before our big overland trip last summer.

http://designthinktravel.com/central-as ... -planning/

One of our top tips is that the guidebooks to Central Asia are terrible. Caravanistan is the best source of information!

Edited to add: I get the sense that the members of this forum are much tougher/more intrepid than we are, and y'all might not agree with our tips. We're not the kind of people who bike 300km at 4000m and sleep in a drainage ditch under the road in a normal day of travel. Our article is from the perspective of backpackers who have already been to the obvious destinations (India, Nepal, etc) and wanted to try traveling to a more remote, less touristy region.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby steven » Fri May 13, 2016 5:55 am

Thank you for this, fyodorova! Central Asia is still the domain of the hard core of travel mostly, so I am happy to see your tips for people who prefer 'softer' travel (this includes me, a typical travel wussie).

And thanks for the compliment! It's what keeps me going.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby Bart-Jan » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:38 pm

I don't really know whether this is the right thread for this post, but my intention is to make so kind of list of useful things for people how attempt to walk (part of) the silk road. I guess most of it will be of use for cyclists as well since in my opinion the only real difference between cycling and walking is the speed. Furthermore most travel issues will be similar I guess.
For an introduction I'd like to say I did my trip in 2015/2016, about 17 months in total. I walked through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. (I crossed Turkmenistan by car) After that I tried to get to China but didn't get a visa and as an alternative continued my trip walking through South Korea and Taiwan.

First and most important thing for me was planning. A 45 day visa for Tajikistan might seem like a long time, but when you're trying to cross on foot following the Pamir Highway it is really short. Those visa periods are a given however. You know beforehand how much time you're going to have you planning accordingly is possible. With those visa periods in mind I tried to plan my trip in such a way that I would be in the heart of Central Asia, i.e. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the middle of summer. In my opinion this was the only possible time for crossing those countries on foot. I know of some die hard cyclists doing the Pamir Highway in the middle of winter but this just wasn't an option. Basically I now had two conditions and started moving around with dates in an excel file trying to match the weather with the visa requirements. This took some time, but ultimately proved very worthwhile when I was on the road.
All this doesn't mean I didn't have any flexibility left in my trip. The only real thing I planned was the days I wanted to enter and leave all the countries on my trip (and even this changed when I was on the road, but only marginally). Then there was of course the problem of obtaining visa. Since I traveled for such a long time I needed to get most of them on the road. Also this was part of the planning I made beforehand. That is, I knew where I wanted to get my visa, and where I hoped to get the necessary extensions. This site was of great help for this and I have to say that except for the Chinese visa which I never got everything else went incredibly smoothly.

The general advise on luggage is of course to travel light and this is even more the case when you are walking. Anyone who is thinking about attempting something similar I can strongly recommend buying a walking trailer. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this but I got mine at a small Dutch company (https://www.radicaldesign.com/walking-trailers/wheelie-walking-trailers.html) and I was really happy with it. Carrying luggage on two wheels instead of on my back was very comfortable. Never had any back problems and just could take a little bit more luggage.

Camping is of course "allowed" everywhere, but I made it a best practice to always ask permission if I was anywhere near a house. This made for load of great encounters with friendly locals as well. Since I didn't make that many kilometers I day I often ended up in all kinds of small villages and usually the best way of finding a place to sleep turned out heading for the local shop. They would point me at a tiny "hotel", a place at a mosque, a fire station, in Iran a red crescent building or just some spot to pitch a tent. Just as often someone would offer a place in his house. People all along the way turned out to be incredibly hospitable.

Since on foot you get to areas where not very many tourists go and most people just don't happen to speak Dutch (or English) I found it very useful to learn some (very) basic Turkish in Istanbul where I started my trip. Just some basics is enough. Most people you meet want to know where you're from, how old you are, where you're going and whether you have a family. As soon as you start understanding those questions and know how to answer them you can have at least some basic conversation over the countless cups of tea you probably get offered. The good thing about learning Turkish is that it is useful in a lot of other countries on the silk road as well. Later on it also pays of to learn the same expressions in Russian but it is always nice if you can surprise some Kyrgyz people by answering in (something resembling) their own language instead of Russian.

I probably forgot quite a few things now so if I come up with something else I will post more.

Bart-Jan
http://hikingthesilkroad.wordpress.com
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby moffy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:33 am

Sup tourists, Like hot springs? I do, and iv been to a whole bunch of them in the Pamir and Wakhan area. But I'll just mention three of them. Fristly Garmchasma, turn left about 34 km south of Khorog at Andarob, just after the check point. Then its about 5 km up the vally from there. Get ready for a sausage fest! Lots of naked guys. Women are separate. But Yamchun is much better in my opinion. Turn left at about 173 km south of khrorog. Then another 7 km up the zigzag road. The fort is up there too. And maybe Jarty Gumbez hot springs, 77 km south of Murghab, you need to turn east about 30 km south of Murghab and follow the track over a gentle pass. They are very hot though, you cant stay in for too long without beer to cool you down. So yea check them out.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby 6thumbs » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:21 pm

In China, about 50% of wifi networks are using the password 88888888 ( 8 times 8). If you try out 2 or 3 different networks in any given place, one will usually use this password.
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Re: Travel tips thread - post yours!

Postby Edmund » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:18 am

In Iran, if you want to board a bus that is already full, you can ask the driver/ticket salesman whether you could sit in the drivers sleeping compartment below the deck. Worked out for us on a bus from Shiraz to Ahvaz.
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