Page 3 of BossManBing Travel Blog Posts

Asia » China » Gansu » Lanzhou July 9th 2008

I stay a couple of nights at Pingliang, possibly the world's most boring city, but visit Mount Kongtong, a Daoist monastery, perched precariously on the top of a cliff. It's quite a walk up the mountain, but absolutely worth it and looks just like you imagine China to look like, with little temples and Pagodas clinging to the tree-lined slopes. When you see these stunning views, it becomes immediately obvious why religious shrines and places of worship were sited here.... read more
Highly decorated
The China I'd imagined

Asia » China » Gansu » Lanzhou July 9th 2008

I say for a couple of nights in a town called Liujaxia, where they obviously don't see many Westerners from the looks I got, and caught a boat up the Huang He (Yellow River) from the huge Dam, 60km to the Bingling Si Buddha caves. An enormous seated Buddha has been carved from the cliff face. At 27m high and 1600 years old, it's an amazing thing to behold (though not the biggest in China by a long way) and some of the other carvings there are both old and beautiful, a bit like me. I took a half hour walk up the valley to visit a small working Buddhist temple and had tea and biscuits with a very lonely monk call Putojansu. It was a surreal experience. On the speed-boat on the way back to ... read more
It's big
Working temple

Asia » China » Gansu » Wuwei July 9th 2008

I stopped briefly at Wuwei to visit an Eastern Han tomb, dating from 100AD, where the region's most celbrated relic, a bornze Flying Horse was discovered. The symbol has since been adopted by the Chinese tourist board. The tomb is deep underground and very cool, compared to the 35+ degree heat outside, but all of the original statues and artifacts that were found in the tomb have been removed to be displayed in museums in larger cities.... read more
Moody sunset

Asia » China » Gansu » Jiayuguan July 9th 2008

After crossing the Taklamakan desert (lit. go in, don't come out) and visiting the world's second LOWEST late (near Turpan, 175m below sea level) I cross into Gansu province and head for Jiayuguan to visit the fort at the very Western end of the Great Wall. Building work on the wall began in abou 220BC by the Qin (pronounced Chin) dynasty, and the remaining parts of these sections are made from mud-bricks. The stone parts of the wall that we're used to seeing pictures of were mainly built during the Ming dynasty 1500 years later, in an attempt to keep the Mongols, and later the Manchu, out of China. It proved ineffective on both occasions. The fort was impressive, with huge fortifications with pagoda-like roof structures, and an excellent museum, but it was difficult to tell ... read more
Jiayuguan Fort
Surrounded by mountains

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Kashgar July 9th 2008

I enter China high in the Tian Shan mountains, through the Torugart Pass. At 3700m above sea level it's about 2.5 times the height of Ben Nevis, and you can really feel it. The scenery however is spectacular. I'd heard the Chinese border crossing can be difficult, but less than an hour later I'm heading down, out of the moutnains, to the Uighar city of Kashgar. The Uighars are descendents of middle-eastern muslim merchants (sorry for the alliteration) who have traded along the Silk Road for more than a millenia. The far Western province of Xinjiang was once part of the Central Asian region of Turkistan, and the Han Chinese haven't as yet managed to breed the Uighars out. (They're trying to though, much like in Tibet). From Kashgar I head up the Karakorum highway to ... read more
Lake Karakol
Hanging instruments
Kashgar Mosque

Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Karakol July 9th 2008

Kyrgyzstan is the most beautiful country I've ever seen. It's known as the mountain kindgdom and for good reason. I have no stories to tell, I spent two weeks bush-camping the most glorious countryside, taking hikes through the mountains up to waterfalls and glaciers, watching herds of wild horses run through the camp-sites, and then a couple of days in the capital, Bishkek, before heading into the world's most populous country. China.... read more
Stunning scenery
Hike to the glacier
A lake in the mountains

Asia » Uzbekistan » Samarkand July 9th 2008

Next was Samarkand, a much bigger city than Bukhara, with as much history, but without the warm fuzzy feeling. This very much felt like a big place - the people weren't as friendly and everyone seemed out to make a quick buck, but there historic sites were good (if heavily renovated due to earthquakes) and I got to stay in a traditional Uzbeki yurt in the Kyzylkhum desert before coming into town, with an obligatory evening camel-ride. From Samarkand I travelled to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, which is a huge, sprawling metropolis, with even less going for it than Tbilisi. I travel along the Ferghana valley, a militarised area where the taking of photographs is prohibited, and leave Uzbekistan behind, to enter the last of the countries in my tour of Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan.... read more
Medrassa Madness
View from the top

Asia » Uzbekistan » Bukhara July 9th 2008

On to Bukhara - another ancient and historic city - famous for it's huge prison. The weather really begins to heat up in Central Uzbekistan and my farmer's tan comes on quite nicely. (For some reason, city tours always happen in the heat of the day). Bukhara had the feel and charm of Khiva, but it was much bigger and more touristy. The city walls were huge and imposing and the central square, with it's large pond and surrounding shashlyk (kebab) restaurants, was stunning. One evening, I went to what was alledgedly a cultural evening at a restaurant in the courtyard of an old madrassa, but it bizarrely turned into a kind of Uzbek fashion show... That night I went to a nightclub in the basement of a large hotel - one thing you can say ... read more
Bukhara City Walls

Asia » Uzbekistan » Khiva July 9th 2008

The next day I finally have an easy border crossing and enter Uzbekistan. I stay in the historic town of Khiva, inside the ancient city walls. After Turkmenistan it feels really nice here - people are friendly, relaxed and interested, and of all the muslim countries I've been to, it's by far the one that ahs best integrated the religion into their lives without it interrupting it. I walk the streets of the old town, taking lots of photos of mosques and madrassas. I was sorry to only spend such a short amount of time here, but did have my first experience of the Central Asian cullinary delight that is Plov - a greasy fried rice dish containing carrots, with a few pieces of mutton on top - the first of many in the region, no ... read more
Khiva's Wall
Scary dolls

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat July 9th 2008

Straight to Ashgabat, the capital, and probably the strangest place on earth. Some interesting facts; Ashgabat has more hotel rooms that the average number of tourists for the whole country, ANUALLY. Petrol costs less than 4p a gallon. There are 17 gold-plated statues or former president (and local madman) Niazov Turkmenbashi in town. There are no taxis in Ashgabat, you just flag down a car going in the right direction. I wander the streets, amazed by the brand new and empty ofccie and residential buildings, but am unable to take any photos for fear of arrest. I can't wait to leave. The currency of Turkmenistan, the Manat, has been devalued so many times now that their smallest note is 10000 manat. I shared a bar-bill with two others on the first night. It came to 1.6 ... read more
Earthquake memorial

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