Friday, 22 March 2019

Backpacking Sri Lanka - my island Itinerary

Backpacking Sri Lanka - my island Itinerary
Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise, blessed with unspoiled bounties from nature, myriad golden beaches, unique wildlife population, and home to an ancient Buddhist culture stretching back to over 2,500 years of rich, unbroken history. I had traveled to Sri Lanka twice in 2017. Those visits were very short and I had blogged little about those experiences. Although, exploring its tourism facet was not in my agenda that time, I had passively imbibed a fair bit of Sri Lankan intoxicating aroma to respond back to her call in 2019. It was an unhurried two weeks of solo backpacking in the later part of February. I had went out with my old backpack, return tickets, e-visa, fifteen days in hand and of course few hundred dollars. Honestly, the travel plan wasn't chalked out till I landed in Colombo. Reasons could be many. Exactly a month back, I had returned from my Uzbekistan trip. There were a hell lot of pending priorities to wrap up. For some uncanny reason, whenever I sat with the island map in my leisure, focusing mind on any particular thing seemed almost impossible. Moreover, my subconscious mind knew that the destination was not unfamiliar to me. Although the journey had begun without an itinerary, I knew which places I wanted to touch in my two weeks of Sri Lankan sojourn.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Bukhara

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Bukhara
Pardon me for the inevitable delay in publishing this final chapter of my Uzbekistan trip. I was backpacking in Sri Lanka for good two weeks, and soon enough you'll get to see myriad colorful collages of the erstwhile Ceylon. In the earlier post I had narrated a fair bit of our day trip to Samarkand. Today I'll introduce you with Bukhara, another historical city located about 600 kilometers west of Tashkent, prominent on the ancient Silk Road map, and also popular among tourists for being one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Uzbekistan. It was the fifth day of our itinerary. We had a return flight to board that midnight. We could either spend the day lazily exploring market areas of Tashkent, or hop onto an early morning high-speed train to Bukhara for a whirlwind guided tour. By now, you already know which button we had pressed. Well, it wasn't an easy call. Just understand the mathematics first. Afrosiyob dropped us at Bukhara railway station by 11:15 AM and we had to catch the train back for Tashkent right at 3:45 PM. So, practically we had less than 4 hours to get a decent glimpse of the city. Was that time slot sufficient to explore Bukhara? Hell no! Was it worthy for us? A big 'yes'!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Samarkand

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Samarkand
Samarkand, often affectionately referred as "Rome of the East" is not only an UNESCO World Heritage site of Uzbekistan, but one of the oldest cities in the world which has gallantly preserved centuries-old history of human civilization since 742 BC. Like a phoenix, this ancient city of Samarkand has suffered repeated knockouts, and after each fall it has rebuilt itself from the ashes, appearing more majestic and appealing than before! We took a guided day trip to Samarkand from Tashkent on the fourth day of our itinerary, and I feel blessed to have taken such a right decision. If you read my post on 7 days of ideal Uzbekistan itinerary, you'll get to know that exploring Samarkand is not feasible unless you halt overnight there. But, at least we got a glimpse of the beautiful historical city, which was chronologically capital of various empires, starting from Sogdia in 4th century BC, to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 20th century AD. More importantly, Samarkand remodeled our perspective on Uzbekistan which our subconscious mind had archived after exploring Tashkent in first two days.