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The Magic of Lake Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | November 24, 2016 | 3 Comments

Imagine an immense steppe. A sparkling crystal lake. Rough snow-capped mountains in the distance. Scattered yurts, horses running wild. If your eyes happen to be seeing this, you’ll know you’re at Lake Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest lake – for me, its most beautiful by far. (The largest is Lake Issy-Kul.) Lake Song Kul’s beauty isn’t a pleasure…

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The Mysteries of Khiva, Uzbekistan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | November 21, 2016 | 6 Comments

When the lights go off at night and the streets are swept clear of day-trippers, what’s left are 2500 years of walls and dust. Inching along paving stones I might once have shared with camel caravans on the Silk Road, I round a corner lit only by stars, nearly expecting a brigand to swipe me with his…

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My 9 European Foodie Destinations for October

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | October 2, 2016 | 20 Comments

Returning home after spending September in Central Asia, I was shocked. I’d left in summer, yet some of my trees were bare, and the rake was waiting for my swift hand. Suddenly I was reaching for a jacket in the evenings whereas days earlier, I had been hiding from the hot Uzbek sun in shaded patios. It only…

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A Solo Woman’s 3-Week Central Asia Itinerary

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | September 30, 2016 | 21 Comments

For the past month, I’ve been traveling solo through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and posting my travels to Facebook (starting with this post on Day 1). Many of you have asked for itinerary details and specifics. So quickly, briefly, here they are. Welcome to my three-week Central Asia itinerary. Any woman traveling on her own can do…

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Part 11 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Packing for Central Asia

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

(Back to Part 1) I should have started far earlier. Yet here I am, the day before departure, my bed strewn with odds and ends that I think I’ll need for a month in Central Asia. It’s not that I don’t have a packing list – I certainly do, and it’s elaborate. But I’m traveling solo, I’ll be…

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Carouge, Geneva’s Alter Ego?

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 27, 2016 | 5 Comments

Like siblings who can either be in synch or at odds with one another depending on the minute, Carouge teases Geneva by being so close, yet so distinct. To Geneva’s solid tradition Carouge serves up rebellion, thumbing her nose at the broody burghers of Calvin’s city. And if your first approach to Geneva seems a bit severe, along comes…

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Part 10 – Anatomy of a Solo Female Backpacking Adventure: Finding a Place to Stay in Kyrgyzstan

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Finding a place to stay in Kyrgyzstan, part 10 of my real-time series on preparations for a month of solo travel in Central Asia.

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Part 9 – Anatomy of a Female Solo Backpacking Adventure: Blogging Tools of the Trade

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 19, 2016 | 1 Comment

(Back to Part 1) In ten days I’m off on what part of me wishes were a calm vacation, swooning in gentle relaxation along a balmy seashore, watching the palm fronds tickle the horizon. Instead, I’ll be going to the office. I’m incredibly fortunate: I have a job that allows me to travel and write so for the next…

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Part 8 – Anatomy of a Female Solo Backpacking Adventure: Researching Central Asia

By Leyla Giray Alyanak | August 15, 2016 | 2 Comments

(Back to Part 1) That little bit of research I undertook to plan my initial itinerary barely counts. I now have to engage in more serious research. My pattern tends to be the same wherever I go: I start off with a long list of things to read and do, and feel lucky if I make…

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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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