The 5 Stans of the Silk Road | Australian Frequent Flyer
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The 5 Stans of the Silk Road

RooFlyer

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Finally!

I've done a bit of travelling over the past 10 years, including to some pretty good destinations, including Iran, the Galapagos, Russia etc. But I don't think I've ever looked forward to trip like the one I leave on today - The 5 Stans of the silk road, a tour by Exodus Travels . To make it better, I'm travelling with my mate @JohnM , who introduced me to the tour.

I've been wanting to do the 'Stans for about 7 years. When I first started looking, you did the east (or west) and then flew domestically to the other side, as there was b-all infrastructure in the middle. I couldn't face a flight on 'dodgy air', so no deal. Then JohnM tells me about this trip, all on the road, and I was instantly in. Booked over a year ago, and I've been counting down the time since then. I haven't dared to start the TR until now, because, as before, a few on-going health issues had to be kept under control. I think I've worn out my welcome with my GP and specialists as I got the 'belt and braces' re-assurances and advice that I was good to go! I'm carrying a veritable pharmacy with me, with covering letters from doc etc, to (hopefully) make sure they get through Dubai and each of the Stans. Got a rabies vaccine for the first time and topped up the travellers first aid kit.

This is the air route:

1565652430015.png

Flights are:

QF J HBA-SYD (QF Award)
Emirates J SYD-DXB (QF Award)
FlyDubai J DXB-ASB (Ashgabat) paid
Asiana J ALA (Almaty) - ICN (LIfeMiles Award)
Singapore Airlines F ICN-SIN-MEL (SQ Award)
QF J (MEL-HBA Award)


And here is the land component (note the stay in Termez - we have 2 nights on the Afghanistan border - I'm hoping to add a 6th 'Stan to the trip by a quick border crossing. I wonder of they have Visa-on-Arrival? ;)

1565652455045.png

The infrastructure is still a bit limited in Kyrgyzstan, and we are in home stays for a couple of nights, and a yurt features as well!!

I'm currently in the Hobart QP, with all fingers crossed the next few flights go OK. We only got our 'letter of invitation' from the Turkmenistan authorities yesterday, so that was cutting it fine. Tajikistan requires an eVisa (4 days after on-line submission); Turkmenistan the Letter of Invitation to be got beforehand, obtained via the tour organiser, with this, you can get a visa on arrival; for the other countries, Australians don't need a visa, or get it on arrival.

Turkmenistan is a bit tricky to visit. Difficult to be an independent tourist. An authorised group has to arrange your Letter of Invitation; on arrival, the authorities there require you to have transport organised from the airport to the hotel. Its almost impossible to book hotels on-line. I'm arriving 2 nights before the tour starts (airline scheduling, plus some caution), so tried to book a hotel for those nights, but the only way was via an awkward funds transfer via booking.com. I ended up booking the extra nights at the tour hotel, via the tour organised, Exodus.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this: 'The door to hell'

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boomy

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Looks fantastic, can’t wait for the TR.

The door to hell featured on TV the other day showing their wake up dead president driving there erratically.
 

RooFlyer

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PDB ( weak Apple juice) and leg room shot in one!
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Qantas business class out of Hobart is always really good. The brunch was as usual, as big as a main course ( I didn't take anything) and arguably better than some international meals on Qantas!

A lovely day in Hobart

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That's the mouth of the Tamar River

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And welcome to Melbourne ;)

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Denali

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Looks fantastic, can’t wait for the TR.

The door to hell featured on TV the other day showing their wake up dead president driving there erratically.
Its been popping up on my instagram feed latey so eager to know more about it.
 

tgh

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Have a great adventure RooFlyer, it's certainly an interesting corner of the world.
Have you brought along a plan of action or perhaps a special gift for his johnliness that can hopefully trump juddles evil plotting ?
 

Scarlett

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That is quite some trip! Hope it all goes well for you both.
If you do get into your sixth 'stan, say g'day to the Taliban from all of us on AFF...

Interesting that you've gone for this trip where you drive rather than fly. I'd always prefer the air travel, even if it is on Plummet Airways (IATA code: FU, I seem to recall). But I guess the land travel really lets you get a feel for the place rather than flitting only between the major tourist attractions.
 

RooFlyer

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Have you brought along a plan of action or perhaps a special gift for his johnliness that can hopefully trump juddles evil plotting ?
Nah. He has to put up with my geologising, which he may think is just as bad :)

If you do get into your sixth 'stan, say g'day to the Taliban from all of us on AFF...
There was a fantastic Trip Report done a few years ago, I think the guy was a US Marine serving somewhere over there. His 'report' was his mission ( not any hot firing!) and was great fun. I hope mine will be much duller.

I'll post a link if I can find it - anyone welcome to if they find it.
 

stm1sydney

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Definitely following this one. We really enjoyed the Ferghana Valley (as well as Bokhara and Samarkand of course). Downgrade your expectations of OZ J ALA-ICN as it will probably be on one of their old "regional" standard A330s.
 

RooFlyer

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Lunch on the MEL-SYD flight; 3 choices, I chose the rhuben sandwich. Better than it looks.

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Another nice flight. Then into my digs for tonight - Intercontinental Double Bay. I was originally in the Mercure near Central Station, but a good deal on the Intercon came up. The Intercon is nicer :) BBFD0C72-5B85-422B-ABF3-7E90B5E08D94.jpeg

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Rooftop bar:

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Lounge bar. After being completly ignored by the server for 10 minutes, I got my own.:)

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RooFlyer

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Looking forward to this - I'm very jealous. I'm assuming there will be the odd wine tasting or two with you and @JohnM Have fun both of you
I HOPE there will be some decent plonk to drink, somewhere, sometime. Not counting on it, so any advance will be a bonus.

Just between you and me, peeps, that is infinitely worse than any evil perpetrated by @juddles... 😜.
Just ignore him folks. This is our third or fourth tour together, and he keeps signing up.
 
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juddles

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I'm really looking forward to seeing this: 'The door to hell'

View attachment 181867
RooFlyer, that "Door to Hell" is an awesome sight!! I imagine a photo of you standing really really close to the edge of the pit would be an absolute gem to celebrate your outstanding geological career!!
(JohnM, that will be your chance.....)
 

Dudditz

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Looks like a good trip boys! Only missing thing in Uzbek is Khiva was the highlight in Uzbekistan for me and the surrounding forts on the drive to Bukhara.

Darvaza is indeed an amazing sight just watch out for the scorpions and tarantulas that inhabit the Karakum 😉

A mates Dad did the couple of days in Afghanistan also a few years back and it was safe and enjoyable.

Are you guys spending anymore time in Kazakhstan or just the end stop in Almaty?

Look forward to hoping aboard this one and enjoying the ride!
 

JohnM

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RooFlyer, that "Door to Hell" is an awesome sight!! I imagine a photo of you standing really really close to the edge of the pit would be an absolute gem to celebrate your outstanding geological career!!
(JohnM, that will be your chance.....)
I’ll wait until after he’s toasted the marshmallows... 😜.
 

RooFlyer

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RooFlyer, that "Door to Hell" is an awesome sight!! I imagine a photo of you standing really really close to the edge of the pit would be an absolute gem to celebrate your outstanding geological career!!
It's lucky I don't do selfies - classic Darwin Award territory.

Looks like a good trip boys! Only missing thing in Uzbek is Khiva was the highlight in Uzbekistan for me and the surrounding forts on the drive to Bukhara.
Definitely agree; also missing is Tashkent and the the train from there to Samarkand. It's been very tempting to nip in there and fill the gap in the past year, but decided best to get some local knowledge first!

Flight connections from Tashkent :)

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henleybeach

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Uzbek vodka is very good. And cheap!
Likewise in Kazakhstan. We bought a bottle home! Looking forward to this trip and the other stans we didn’t go to! When in Tashkent go to a speak easy bar called “the bar” it’s attached to lotte hotel and in Almaty go to the ritz Carlton for a beer and enjoy the magnificent views from their bar up the top! Some of the friendliest people I’ve meet in Kazakhstan
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