Many have not consider visiting Central Asia for pleasure, might even dismiss the destination altogether as a possible dream destination. But don’t cross it out of your bucket list too fast.
7 Reasons to Fall in Love with “STAN”ning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan ….
Many have not consider visiting Central Asia for pleasure, might even dismiss the destination altogether as a possible dream destination. But don’t cross it out of your bucket list too fast. The northern steppe lands has much to offer, an interesting mix of Iranian-Persian heritage, Mongol rule, strong Russian influence blending in thus producing the unique present day Turkic culture.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan are the three of five countries which forms Central Asia also known as the “the-stans”. Being landlocked countries, stretching from the Caspian Sea in the west, to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan derives from the Persian suffix “-stan” meaning “land of”.
1. Silk Road oldest crossroads
Having played the bridge connecting Europe and Asia, Central Asia is the Silk Road less discovered, comparing to the famed “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” where many begin exploring the ancient route from China. Imagine the many cultural exchange which has taken place in these routes long before Marco Polo first step foot, giving birth to famed bazaar’s which still trades today. These markets offer almost everything from spices, dried fruits and fresh meat to clothing, housewares and even animals. Some of the best markets are in Almaty (Kazakhstan), Ishkashim (border of Afghanistan/Tajikistan), Osh (Kyrgyzstan) and the bazaar in Bukhara (Uzbekistan).
2. The Steppe sings to you
Songs of past can be heard when the wind sweeps through the steppe and over the alpine lakes. The mountainous region comes alive during summer with vast low green grassland and snow during winter. Some might even experience snow in summer for those who undertake hiking trails in the beautiful steppe areas of Kyrgyzstan which is slowly growing in popularity as a hiking route. It truly is beautiful in a wild way.
3. Up and coming modernity in a harsh beautiful land
Almaty, Kazakhstan leads the modern-era of Central Asia followed by Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Almaty is almost reminiscent of Europe with its leafy avenues, chic cafes, glossy shopping centres and abundance of nightlife. One can also travel to most parts of Europe from Almaty by air.
4. Architecture – Beautiful Mosaic and Terracotta Art
Tashkent might be the capital city of Uzbekistan today, but Samarkand and Bukhara was once known as the wealthiest Silk Road cities 2,500 years ago. Both cities today are under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient cities has spellbinding architecture deeply infused with fascinating history, it never fails to impress visitors with their fabulous mosque, madrassas and royal mausoleums.
5. The celebrations and culture
Celebrating the New Year’s Festival
Known as the Navrus in Uzbek, Nauryz in Kazakh, Novruz in Turkmen, Nooruz in Kyrgyz, held every year in March, this festival is a celebration of the New Year in Central Asia. It is characterized by folk dancing, traditional music performances, polo matches, and most importantly, the sacrificing of sheep. After the sheep have been slaughtered, they are cooked and eaten by the locals which is meant to symbolize prosperity for the upcoming year. In 2009 UNESCO listed it as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’.
6. Living semi-nomads
Except for those living in the cities, there are some who remains semi-nomadic lives. Living in yurts where the horses and falcon are very much part of life. Roaming the steppe and setting up residences normally beside the water source. Perhaps it is because of this simple life, the people are very kind to strangers and warm.
7. The many exotic features of Central Asia
Many first time visitors to these parts of the cities will be taken aback by the people’s sharp feature. Some have black hair, while others have a mixture of brunette and some very rare blonde from the Russian ancestry. Coupled with blue or brown almond shaped eyes. One can’t help but to appreciate it’s beauty.
Yes, it is not easy to travel to these parts of the world with the many bureaucratic bridges one must cross, as the systems that are in placed still follows the former Soviet Union in many ways. No doubt they are all independent countries today. Apple Vacations has made traveling and exploring these parts of the world much more easier. Covering Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in one go with the best possible arrangements and comfort yet tasting the wildness of Central Asia.