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Old 06-16-2015, 11:01 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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I booked a flight today for a visit to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Armenia. Have any of you been to those places lately? I've never been to that part of the world, so I thought I'd go and backpack around a little and have a look.

I'll fly to Bishkek, go and do some volunteer work on a project in a village in Kazakhstan (and hopefully learn a little Russian), have a week to poke around in Kyrgyzstan, then fly to Istanbul and take the bus to Tbilisi, to spend a couple of weeks in Georgia and Armenia.

I don't speak any Russian at all, so language might be an even bigger challenge than my blindness and old age, which I know how to deal with..
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:50 AM
 
Location: No. Virginia, USA
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I really hope you will keep us posted on how this trip is going. That sounds very interesting.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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I won't have any connected devices with me, so won't be online much, but will certainly fill you in when (and if) I get back.

By the way, i scored an interesting airfare. I was going to fly direct to ALA (Almaty, Kazakhstan) which would be about $1500 RT, even a month in advance. But instead, I booked separate tickets, IAH-IST for $971, and then another ticket IST-FRU (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) for $318 RT. Total $1297, which I booked only a week in advance, mid-summer dates, plus I get a three-week stopover in IST for the Caucasus part. I understand that within Turkey, I can get tickets IST to Trabzon (Georgia border) for as little as $60 each way, compared to the $250 quoted online for booking outside Turkey. So it should be about $1400 for all five countries. Not to mention that I have a Houston senior fare-card, so I can ride free on the direct city bus from the Houston Greyhound station to IAH airport.

Those are all visa-waiver countries, I won't be going to the other countries nearby because of burdensome and expensive visa issues.

Last edited by jtur88; 06-17-2015 at 10:28 AM..
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:34 AM
 
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I think your going to have a hard time communicating in those countries? those dont seem like popular tourist destinations for English speaking westerner?
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Old 06-17-2015, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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I actually have been to Kyrgyzstan, but not recently. I spent 2 weeks there back in 2004. I was in Bishkek, Osh and Jalalabad. I went there with my church for a project. I think if you want to be able to communicate with people there, you should know some Russian or some Kyrgyz. The Russian and Kyrgyz language are both written in the Cyrillic alphabet as well. Bishkek would be the most modern and developed city in Kyrgyzstan being that it is the capital city. The areas outside are not as developed. I do have friends who live in Kyrgyzstan right now, though- American, as well as local Kyrgyz that I still keep in touch with, time to time.

All the other countries you've listed and plan to visit were also former Soviet Republics, thus many people still speak Russian, so knowing some Russian would be useful.

I have never been to the Caucasus area other than a brief layover in Baku, Azerbaijan (while flying to Kyrgyzstan and flying back from Kyrgyzstan).

Last edited by twnxn; 06-17-2015 at 01:06 PM..
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Old 06-17-2015, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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If you stay in the capitals you should be alright. Kazakhstan is definitely the most developed country out of the 4, although if you're going to a village it would not look like it. Having someone with you who knows Russian would be strongly recommended. Georgia and Armenia are very historic.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
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I have also noted how cost-effective Turkish Arlines can be, especially their domestic flights. I was looking at flying from Istanbul to Van, right near the Iraq border, and hitchhiking my way back to Western Turkey as a possible trip option last year. I don't think the fare I saw was more than $50. I think the trick is to look at leaving Istanbul from SAW airport, rather than the main one.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:54 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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OP, isn't it a little late to be asking us your questions? Now that you're actually enroute? Most people would have asked back when they were planning the trip.

It'll be very warm where you're going, but at least it's June, and not July. Armenia is fabulous! I've heard good reports about Georgia, too. Kyrgyzstan is breathtakingly beautiful (all those mountains!). Be sure to eat your fill of the steamed lamb dumplings, a delicacy throughout Mongolia and Central Asia.

Let us know how it went. I can't imagine doing this trip without knowing Russian, but I suppose these days there are young people who speak English. Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
OP, isn't it a little late to be asking us your questions? Now that you're actually enroute? Most people would have asked back when they were planning the trip.

I don't leave until Tuesday. So I'm spending the last week doing the necessary reserch. I had originally planned to go toward the end of July, but the Kazakhstan visa waiver program is espiring, so I moved my schedule up. I'm looking forward to Kazakh Besh Barmek. I'll have a Russian phrase book, and I know Cyrillic phonetics well enough that I'm not stymied by that. I live in south Texas, so hot summers don't scare me.

I spent three weeks in China, and saw only one tourist (Japanese) and two English-speaking Chinese for the last 17 days of the trip, as soon as we left Yangshuo and all the Australians eating banana pancakes in the cafe playing Hey Jude over and over. So I know i is quite possible to travel among people with no common language.

Quite honestly, the most cardio-palpitating part of the whole planning is getting to Houston airport to catch my flight, but a neighbor has solemnly promised me she'll drive me there, what a load off my mind that is. Greyhound does not guarantee a seat, even if you have a ticket. No seats, you don't get on. Everything else will be easy,

Last edited by jtur88; 06-18-2015 at 07:09 PM..
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Old 06-22-2015, 01:32 PM
 
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Aint some of those places very dangerous? It is close to Afghanistan. I am sure there are some taliban there trying to wheel and deal outside of afghanistan.
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