I love adventures. From Iraq to Belarus, from Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus to the West Bank, from remote Bolivia to Iran, my sense of adventure has taken me to fascinating places around the world—and now I depart for a previously unexplored part of the world: the –stans.
A busy work schedule and attempt to fit the trip into a long weekend so I am not derelict with my school duties means that this will not be a complete trip. Uzbekistan is actually at the top of my list, but Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan will have to wait—my focus on this trip will be on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which border each other and offer easier visa regimes.
My first stop is Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a city that has been described as what Eastern Europe was like 30 years ago. I am expecting something like Minsk, Belarus—where the Soviet Union lives on—with a central Asian bent. Actually, I really don’t know what to expect, and that is what has me so excited about this trip. People say Bishkek is a rather dull city, so I hope to check out Al-Archa National Park as well, though there is a lot of snow on the ground.
Then I will travel overland to Almaty, Kazakhstan, which is sure to be an adventure. I’ll stay in Almaty for a day and a half before stopping in Frankfurt for a half-day on my way back to Philadelphia.
I took advantage of a $500 fare awhile back (which earns full mileage and double RDMs on the Air Canada and Lufthansa segments!) so I guess you could say this trip is a bit of a mileage run as well. It’s funny—it seems like I have traveled so much already this year (and to be honest, I have traveled every weekend, most weekends by air) and yet I’m only halfway to re-qualification for 1K status. Domestic transcons certainly do not add up as fast as international journeys.
One last item: after holding bmi gold status for four years, I let it lapse last year, angry at the high fuel surcharges levied on award tickets and the impending changes to the Diamond Club program. Gold members are awarded four upgrades per year and this would have been the perfect opportunity to use them. Sadly demoted to silver status, though, I’ll be flying in the back while most of the A321 business class cabin goes empty (at least according to the loads I am seeing). It always happens like that, no?
I’ll check-in again in the next day or so.