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Part 7 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Travel Health in Central Asia

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 10, 2016 | 4 Comments

(Back to Part 1) When the travel doctor told me I’d need a typhoid vaccination, I clenched my teeth, envisaging a long, thin needle creeping closer. No such thing. All I did was swallow a little pill every other day for three days. Bliss. It’s not always this easy, and depending on where you travel, protecting…

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Part 5 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Breaking the Central Asian Language Barrier

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 5, 2016 | 3 Comments

(Back to Part 1) Communicating with people is one of the greatest gifts of travel. We can do it in many ways – art, gestures, expressions – but to me, language is the most complete, allowing for nuances, emotion, information and even the intangible. Language helps us walk into someone else’s world and sample it from their point of…

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Part 6 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: My Central Asia Itinerary

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

(Back to Part 1) Every trip starts with an arrival destination – but it’s anyone’s guess what happens after landing. Some trips are highly organized, with sights and facilities reserved each step of the way. Others, like my own trip across Africa, are more hit-and-miss, with few plans beyond landing. This time I need some sort of plan,…

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Part 4 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: My Central Asia Travel Budget

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 1, 2016 | 6 Comments

These are my Central Asia travel budget preparations as Part 4 of a step-by-step look at planning a one-month backpacking trip.

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Part 3 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Security Concerns in Central Asia

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | July 27, 2016 | 8 Comments

(Back to Part 1) “Weren’t the Istanbul Airport terrorists from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan?” Yes, they were. Scared, no. Cautious, yes. “So why are you going to visit those two countries? Aren’t you scared?” And that’s been the gist of my email Inbox for days. I’m planning to travel through Kyrgyzstan the first half of September and…

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Part 2 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Coping with the Unexpected

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | July 22, 2016 | 10 Comments

Part 2 of a step-by-step look at preparing for a one-month solo female backpacking adventure. Here’s what happens when the unexpected hits – and how even the simplest of plans can go haywire from the beginning, and how to deal with change.

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Let’s try that health thing again, shall we?

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | April 29, 2016 | 15 Comments

Warning: this is about health and eating, not about travel! For travel, go here. A year ago, when I retired from my job at the UN, I decided to take a month, go to Sri Lanka, and put my health back together. I’d abused my body for a hectic lifetime of fun and constant travel. Raised…

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My Perfect Hour in Venice

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | April 19, 2016 | 28 Comments

The shrillest sound of early morning Venice is no sound at all. As I slide across the cobblestones, my rubber soles grip the alleys, sticky but silent. The sun and the moon are invisible, in that tiny wedge of time when dawn is darkest and daytime about to announce itself. Even the motorized vaporetti boats have taken a break…

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What the Heck is a European Capital of Culture?

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | February 16, 2016 | 3 Comments

And what does that have to do with a bunch of cows migrating across downtown Marseille? Plenty. Because the transhumance  – the migration of herds between pastures – was staged during Marseille’s tenure as European Capital of Culture for 2013. Yes, culture, one of those terms so broad it could strangle you. It can mean the arts… painting, theater, dance, poetry,…

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The Fascinating Story of the Indonesian Rijsttafel

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | January 18, 2016 | 9 Comments

The fascinating thing about the Indonesian rijsttafel is that it isn’t Indonesian at all: it is a Dutch invention. Indonesian food is involved, of course, but the construct is a product of colonial Holland, which ruled Indonesia – calling it the Dutch East Indies – for more than 350 years. Because yes, initially the Dutch colonists avoided the…

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