My least favourite parts about traveling in Central Asia

My least favourite parts about traveling in Central Asia

Wow. I can’t believe that my dream trip has ended. I came home a few days ago to Sweden after spending my final days in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It’s been intense, to say the least, and I’m actually quite happy that it’s over. Not because I didn’t love it – I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! But because I didn’t really have a proper plan after Tajikistan and I just felt like I didn’t have a purpose with my traveling. And because of the fact that some things started to annoy me. Even though I think Central Asia is by far one of the most fascinating places to travel in, there’s a few things that I didn’t like.

The food

As a vegetarian and part-time vegan (it still cracks me up that I use this term), Central Asian food is terrible. I’m not so sure it’s good for meat eaters either, but I can speak for all vegetarians. My biggest problem with it is that there’s literally no vegetarian options. If you ask me how I survived there, I don’t think I can answer because I think I’m too scarred from this food experience and I’ve just neglected all the memories that includes food. Okay, I’m being way too dramatic, but I hated the food there and food is such an important part of why I love traveling and for me to function properly. There’s no spices, no diversity, no flavour and I always found pieces of meat in my food, even though I specifically asked for vegetarian food. After a while, I just gave up, ate whatever was given and came to terms with the fact that I would constantly feel tired because I didn’t get the proper nutrients.

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One of the better meals we had and just look at it

The long mashrutka rides

I can’t hold Central Asia accountable for this because at least they have public transportation and at least it works. Well, most of the time. But the distances are quite big so you always have to count with at least a couple of hours sitting in a crowded and hot mashrutka with people who refuse to open the windows. I have no idea why the locals don’t want to open the windows when it’s 40 degrees outside but OKURRR…

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A beautiful stop with the mashrutka

Some things just don’t make sense

Speaking of the long mashrutka rides… The drivers never filled up gas before they left so you always had to count with a few extra minutes for them to fill up gas. And the thing is – they never fill it completely! So after an hour or so, they have to stop again to fill some gas. The drivers can also stop randomly whenever they want to and wherever they want to. Once, me and my friend had been on a 10 hour journey and just wanted to get to our destination, but our mashrutka decided to stop for some fruits on the side of the road. We thought it would be a 5 minute break but it turned out to be a 20 minute one. Great.

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Speaking of things that don’t make sense… This map that the CBT office gave us to explain where to find our yurt camp.

You will get scammed

This happens in a lot of countries but Uzbekistan drove me crazy. I know when I’m being scammed and sometimes I just let it pass, but when it happens every single day and even when you’re trying to buy a train ticket at the official ticket office, you just get tired. I felt like everyday was a battle for my money and I never knew when they were lying or not. I somehow always ended up in first class because all the other tickets were “sold out”. Mmmhmm…

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Usually, first class didn’t even feel luxurious

You often get the wrong information

Whether it’s getting wrong information about the train schedule, hiking routes or how long it’ll take for you to get your Tajikistan visa, you always had to double check everything. We were told it was going to take just 2-4 business days to get our Tajikistan visa, but it turned out to take 10 days instead. I also got the wrong information at the CBT (community based tourism) office once and it led me to the wrong hiking route. Not fun, I can say.

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At least the surroundings are always incredible

But besides that (and getting my phone stolen the last day I was in Kyrgyzstan), I really enjoyed traveling in Central Asia. Yes, it was frustrating as hell and there were times I cursed myself for not going to Bali where I could at least chill on a beach and eat good food, but it also turned out to be one of the best backpacking trips I’ve ever done. I really fell in love with it and I’m so happy I finally dared to book my flight ticket to this part of the world and see it with my own eyes. The good definitely outweighs the bad.

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