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  • The Blank Spot on the Map – Central Asia

    Travelers who are making plans to see the world often think of the usual places. Australia, Thailand, Japan, China, Europe, maybe even India, Brazil, or Kenya. Conspicuously absent from most agendas is the magical land of Central Asia. Central Asia is a a veritable blank spot on most top ten lists and the reason for this is as intangible as the ideas of the land itself.
    Beautiful central AsiaAsk someone what they know about Central Asia and you might get an answer that makes sense. More likely you will get a confusion of India, China, and Borat. Yes, Borat.

    It’s a sad thing that the amount of knowledge most people have of this vast area of land is a spoof movie that makes the residents look like village bumpkins and the landscape look like Russia. While it may be true that there are certainly villages, bumpkins, and Russian landscapes- this is hardly the entire picture.

    Indeed, some of the greatest empires in history dominated this landscape and in history, control of these lands has been known as ‘the great game’ because of the importance of Central Asia in trade, mineral wealth, and population.

    The steppes, grasslands, mountains, ranges, and deserts stretch from China to the Caspian Sea and have every imaginable type of landscape and a rich variety of cultures and history. From the Silk Road to Genghis Khan, the stories of history live in Central Asia.

    And, since this is primarily undeveloped land in terms of world tourism- the prices are usually incredibly cheap. Want to add some romantic sounding names to your travel list? How about Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Kyrgyzstan, Samarkand, Bukhara, and not to mention taking nomadic horse treks across the barren steppes.

    Central Asia includes Afghanistan which was once one of the top destinations of backpackers in the world. Unfortunately, because of the ill advised war on terrorism and the extreme religious views of the Taliban, Afghanistan is no longer a place that it is easy or advisable to travel in, however, for those who take the risk and brave the paperwork, they will find that the Afghan people are warm, welcoming, and have a beautiful culture and country.

    Whether you are seeking to climb soaring mountain peaks, trek the Silk Road by camel, or live the simple life in a village of Caspian Sea fisher folk, what you will find is that this region is worth the trouble it takes to get there. You can expect lengthy visa processes, difficult transportation, far from deluxe accommodation, and more than a few smiles and questioning looks.

    Here are a few trips that will make your imagination soar:

    1) Hunting with eagles in Kyrgyzstan
    2) Horse trekking for a week on the Zorush-Kol Loop
    3) Journeying across the Roof of the World by Camel
    4) Hiking the Broghil Pass in Afghanistan
    5) Learning to fish in traditional style along the shores of the Caspian Sea

    You won’t find a shortage of adventure in Central Asia and forever after you will wonder why it remains a blank spot on most people’s maps.

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