Where on earth have I been travelling to in July?!!
I’ve been busy. I’ve covered as much ground in terms of miles in this one month as I travelled in the previous 3 months all mashed together! Almost 3000 kilometres! The distances I’ve had to cross have been vast! That’s because I’ve finally made it Central Asia, and after crossing an ocean (if the Caspian Sea counts as an ocean!!!), I had nothing but the hot, scorching desert to traverse! And it’s been the peak of Summer.
I’ve been travelling along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan and temperatures were, on average, around 45 Degrees Celsius each day. IT WAS HOT.
I took a long, long 24 hour train ride from Aktau in Kazakhstan, into the deserts of Uzbekistan, or more specifically, into the deserts of the Autonomous Province of Karakalpakstan. The Stan within a Stan as it’s known. Here I saw where the shores of the Aral Sea used to extend to. Where fishermen used to launch their boats, and fling their nets. Where fish used to provide the region with food, jobs, a thriving economy…. It’s rather more bleak these days though.
The people were resolutely wonderful however, and I even saw, in the city of Nukus, an incredible Art Museum- The Savitsky Collection– where in the oppressive Soviet days, a renegade artist collected and stored works that would otherwise have been banned and destroyed.
I then travelled across the length of Uzbekistan, calling in at all the Silk Road cities along the route to Tashkent, the nation’s capital.
I stopped at Khiva, the seat of one of Central Asia’s last independent nations until the Russians stormed in during the days of the Great Game. The old city here is beautifully preserved and restored.
Then I explored Bukhara, where megalomaniacs ruled from the citadel fortress, The Ark, but even this couldn’t keep back the advance of the Russian Empire!
My final Silk Road stop was the ancient, legendary city of Samarkand. The city that was called home by the bloodthirsty empire builder, and Uzbek national hero, Tamerlane! He constructed outlandish monuments, mosques and medrasas which still stand today.
Then it was onto Tashkent, where Soviet architecture mixes with old Islamic designs and new infrastructure. The food was great- try the Plov if you are ever around here- and the ever enduring police presence in the city has led to one of the safest cities I’ve ever visited. That’s police states for you.
Dark Stuff On The Blog That’s Been Flaming Hot!
July’s most viewed article is from Montenegro! You can read it HERE! It’s a selection of the best of the many photographs I took during my trip last year. If you have’t already, then now is the time to travel to this small, but insanely magnificent Balkan nation. I guarantee you that it in a few years it will be a huge destination!
From Northern Cyprus, my article on Famagusta, a war torn holiday resort, caused a few political debates on social media, as people argued the cause of the war which led to the divide of Cyprus. You can read it HERE!
What’s On The Way?!
Coming up in August, there’s loads of exciting articles to be published on the blog!
There’s a lot of abandoned, Soviet architecture from the breakaway territory of Abkhazia to be showcased, stories from a space monkey concentration camp- no joke!- and incredible pictures from the mountains of Georgia!
If you haven’t already, then get signed up to the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!
Where To Next?!
Right now I’ve had to take a short trip back home, to the United Kingdom! But don’t worry, I’ll be heading back to Central Asia soon enough! This last leg of the journey will take me across west China, and into Tibet, where the journey I set out many months ago to complete will come to a riotous close.
But the travel won’t stop there.
It will just be the beginning of a new chapter.
Richard Collett, July 2016