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On the Silk Road

April 1, 2013

Bellingen. 1st April.

Well, I’ve put away the hammer, covered up the drop saw, my thoughts finally looking at what lies ahead on the trip by train across Asia.

A quite different style of travel from what we have been used to lately. Having the bakkkie meant a home to us as well as transport. This time we will be lugging suitcases into hotels, out of hotels, into trains, out of trains with some sightseeing thrown in. We’ve occasionally thought of selling the camper, at least this trip will give us a good idea of what it will be like to travel if we do.

Tomorrow we fly to Beijing by way of Singapore. Spend three nights in the Chinese capital where we will visit the usual tourist attractions, then on the 6th we catch the Hi Speed train to Xian where the Terracotta Warriors are to be found. A few days there then catch the overnight train to Urumqi in western China. It will be our first taste of sleepers. Urumqi has had its trouubles in the past few years with the local people rebelling about the influx of Han Chinese. Our visit here seems to be the reason our Chinese visas took 3 weeks to obtain instead of the usual 3 days. We had to show itineraries of our journey etc before they were issued.

After Urumqi we take another overnight train to Almaty in Kazakhstan then on to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a few days later. Once in Tashkent we will organize our own transport for the following two weeks visiting Samarkand, Bukhara and perhaps Kiva. An option is to leave out Kiva, it’s quite a long distance from Bukhara, and go to Dushanbe in Tajikistan instead. We have visas for the three of these ‘Stan countries meaning we are a little flexible.

On 4th May we will be back in Tashkent to take the 3 day journey to Moscow for a couple of days, St Petersburg and finally by hi speed train to Helsinki. It’s then by air to Oslo and Haugesund where we catch up with some good friends we first met in Egypt on our way south in 2008. A Ryanair flight will see us in the UK on the 19th May.

Whew! When you write it down quickly it doesn’t sound much. But it’s taken a fair bit of planning with most of the visas and train journey booked throuugh a crowd called Real Russia in London. The cost of the visas on their own would put many people off, just hope it’s all worth it.

We are using to post the blog this time. I think it will be easier for people to leave comments compared to what it was like through Will see how it goes.

Gary & Joan

  1. Roos & Cathy permalink

    Looks easier to use already

  2. Paul Tipper permalink

    Travel safely.We look forward to the blogs .We can sort out the wine order when you return!!.Cheers Paul & Margot

  3. Nieke, Arnoud, Tom & Marion permalink

    Ni Hao Gary & Joan, Enjoy your trip in 西安 (Xi’An) ! It’s an amazing place and don’t mis the Muslim Quarter by evening. Try the Yangrou Paomo.
    Groetjes from Druten.

  4. Nieke, Arnoud, Tom & Marion permalink

    Ni hao Gary & Joan, enjoy your trip in 西安 (Xi’An), it’s a beautiful place to visit. Don’t forget to have an evening stroll in the Mulim Quarter and eat Yang Rou Pao Mo 洋肉泡馍. In Druten we just ate Joan’s pavlova recipe ;)…
    Groetjes from Holland,
    Nieke, Arnoud, Tom & Marion

  5. Linda Hillman permalink

    Hi Joan and Gary, you will have seen the Terracottta Warriors by now, always look so fascinating and I haven’t heard of all the places you mentioned. Hope you are writing some travel articles Gary, then if you are a published writer of note (which you should be), then you will be able to claim some of your travel expenses perhaps? Looking forward to hearing more of your travels and seeing some of the usual beautitul photos as time goes on.

    Joan, I saw Betty today, not so bright as last Friday. Her daughter is here till next week and then a sister and brother come, do hope she can manage the pain and I know she really wants to stay at home. She was drifting off to sleep when I saw her as she had just had some medication, so I will pop in again on Wednesday. Have my op next Weds, just doing all the To Do lists for the Show and all 356 scones and 32 meatloves are in Robert and Gus’s freezer, I could never cook for a living fulltime. Au revoir for now, Linda X

  6. Carolyn Grimward permalink

    I have finally got round to reading your blog. Sounds wonderful. I am looking forward to reading the rest of your adventures as you travel into the ‘Stan countries and Russia. Keep safe.

  7. John Slater permalink

    Hope your trip is going well. Look forward to following your ‘adventures’.

    John & Angela Slater

  8. Jenny and Allan Green permalink

    Continue to enjoy your trip. Jenny and St Marg’s

  9. Emma Conlan permalink

    Hello. Been trying to call you. Hope you are traveling well. Having a lovely week in London. Skype from Kabul. Xx

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