Marie & Emma

Travelling Fraggles

Marie & Emma

This is our travel journal that anyone is welcome to read.
It doesn't get edited on the road and we travel technology free so have to use whatever computers and keyboards we find both good and bad. Typos, missing words and bad English are par for the course



Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Wellington Region October 15th 2017

Marie got a ride to the airport with a colleague and set 'camp' up a corner with a precious power socket. A cancelled meeting enabled Emma to catch a slightly earlier flight. After a quick change and some trading of packing, we bought water and headed out of the building, with the sign Emma had made saying 'South' We'd had a brief discussion about what to say to people that were kind enough to give us a lift. Maybe not everyone would appreciate giving us a ride if they knew we'd turned down a paid flight home (Marie) and in fact paid to fly up in order to hitchhike back (Emma) and that actually we were just seeking an adventure. It was tempting to invent a story, a whole new exciting fictional life. But that doesn't ... read more
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World's smallest 2 person room...
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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland October 13th 2017

The first question you probably have is 'why?' The answer is because at the end of every trip we land in Auckland and instead of taking our flight home to Wellington we crave leaving the airport and hitchhiking home. We simply don't want the adventure to end, and emboldened by managing to get ourselves around and returning intact from wherever we have been gallivanting around, it is hard to resist the temptation. But then the reality of needing to get back for cats, dogs or work kicks in and we duly get on the plane. So it has long been there as something we want to do. The tipping point from 'want' to 'do' was meeting 4 Russian hitchhikers on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. They were fabulously bonkers - upbeat, optimistic, embracing life. They had ... read more

Asia » Tajikistan » Dushanbe August 31st 2017

Click here to watch a vlog from us both covering highlights, challenges and surprises of our trip through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » Astana August 30th 2017

Another early start to catch a flight up to Astana. With the train taking 20 hours and time being short as we draw near the end we'd opted for the 90 minute flight. From the taxi as we approached the airport we could see a bunch of aircraft that literally look parked in someone's backyard. We hoped none were ours. We'd arrived just over an hour before our flight which was earlier than most locals; we had checked in and through all the screening and checks within 10 minutes. We'd assumed our seats on row 2 were because we were comparatively early but it turned out the NZ$175 cost for both of us (the cheapest we could find to buy online) had bought us business class seats. The aircon still dumped cold water and lumps of ... read more
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Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan » Shymkent August 27th 2017

Our original idea was to take a night train from Almaty to Astana, but just before we left NZ we read more about Turkistan and changed our plans. From the 16th to 18th centuries Turkistan was the capital of the Kazakh khans. It is home to the mausoleum of Turkic Muslim holy man, Kozha Akhmed Yasaui, and was built by Timur in the late 14th century. It is Kazakhstan’s greatest architectural monument and most important pilgrimage site. The guidebook claims that it rivals Timor's creations in Uzbekistan such as the Registran in Samarkand, and says it has no rivals in Kazakhstan for man-made beauty. We figured that it would likely be the last chance (and only time on this trip) that we get to see the stunning blue tile work so quintessentially Central Asia. At only ... read more
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Asia » Kazakhstan » Southern Kazakhstan » Shymkent August 26th 2017

Our night train to Shymkent left at just gone 10pm. The people at the hostel told us to get there 2 hours before and that had been the drill in Uzbekistan, but after collecting our bags from the hostel and getting a taxi there it turned out we could have arrived 30 minutes before and been in plenty of time. We were a bit disappointed to be leaving on a Friday night as the nightlife in Almaty was just beginning to stir (though not that anywhere remotely decent would have let us in with the outfits we have anyway). For the first time we were travelling first class. It was a big modern train, we couldn't see either end from our carriage and a sign on the side suggested it had a top speed of 200kmh. ... read more
First class luxury
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Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty August 26th 2017

As transport leaves when full we'd been told to leave our Bishkek hostel at 8am for the Almaty (Kazakhstan) minibus to ensure we got seats and that it would likely go by 9:30. We didn't quite buy into that so went a little later. The station was a much more civilised affair this time. We were early enough to watch 3 cases of scotch get hidden in a hole underneath the seats. By 9am we were on the road. By 10am we were in Kazakhstan. Marie held up the Kyrgyzstan exit queue when the immigration officer couldn't find her entry stamp (it is in there we made sure to check we'd been stamped as we entered) he processed her exit on the basis of Emma's entry stamp and then Emma's processing was delayed for some unknown ... read more
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Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Bishkek August 23rd 2017

Our driver was 10 minutes early, which was a pleasant surprise as usually our drivers are 10 minutes late. He was a young guy, as well groomed as his car, which we figured by the tortuously slow speed we headed off down the gravel roads, was his pride and joy. We tried to relax and enjoy the scenery but with quite a bit of travelling to do to get to Bishkek we kinda wanted him to put his foot down a bit. Also his windows didn't work so we had to stop and delay the journey further if we wanted to take photos. We passed through beautiful mountains and valleys but only stopped to photograph a huge herd of yak in a valley. When we came off the mountains we hit the perfect seal of the ... read more
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Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Song Kol August 22nd 2017

The driver who brought us to Kazarman swung by before dinner and we did a deal with him to take us to Song-Kul Lake the next morning. Our routine in the Pamirs had been to breakfast at 7:30 and leave at 8, so that has become our default but he suggested 7, which was fine by us, the earlier you hit the road the more of the day you have when you get there. We couldn't budge him on the hefty price, but drivers have the negotiating power because they know you're effectively stuck. When the next morning over a quarter of the fare went into the fuel tank it felt less hefty. He asked to bring a friend along for the drive back, we knew it was going to take between 4-5 hours and he ... read more
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Asia » Kyrgyzstan » Jalal-Abad August 20th 2017

When we weren't eating dinner and talking to the 3 other guests, we spent the evening in Arslanbob doing some planning, as we hadn't got anything more than a very rough idea of how we are going to get to Bishkek from Arslanbob and we couldn't put off any longer getting a plan. The guidebook says "beware although maps show a road across Kyrgyzstan...the central cross-mountain section...is an unpaved, seasonal affair. It can become impassable after mudslides and closes altogether from October to late June." "With barely 2 vehicles an hour passing through even in summer." We looked it up on the map and noticed it went over a 3000+m pass. We asked the CBT coordinator in Arslanbob. Bad road he said "very rough". That sealed it and it became our Plan A - to get ... read more
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