Sunday, November 09, 2008

Home sweet home?

I thought I would've been more anxious to return to NYC at the end of the summer to start my new life, but I had mixed feelings. I was thankful, however, that home was still NYC. Although my life in NYC would be drastically different.

So, just as I thought it would be OK to wrap up my entire life in 5 days before embarking on my travels, I also thought it would be just fine to come back from two months of travel and start my new life the next day after! I arrived Tuesday afternoon and was instantaneously knocked down by the flu. Then Wed morning I went to pick out a new apt and catch up on two months of work e-mails (apparently my new job that was suppose to start Aug 21, actually started before I defended my thesis and flooded my e-mail box while I was traveling. oops.) Then on Thursday, I was thrown into meetings all day long. Friday I went to lab, and Saturday I moved to my new apt. And my new life began... in all its craziness. Unfortunately, it made for a hectic new beginning and my new job was rather intense, hence these posts coming way late.

I miss traveling. At first, I didn't have time to think about anything but work, but as things settled a little more, I find myself reminiscing for the summer and the days of wandering countries. And as I began to have time to breathe, sleep and meet up with old friends and people in my life, I recounted the tales of the summer as I have here. So the grand adventure that I had looked forward to for so long is done. But of course the question already looms: Where am I going next? Well, I can barely leave Manhattan these days, but rest assured, those who know me, know I will never stop exploring! Hmm... I am thinking South America?

But for now, this trip was everything I could have hoped for and more!!!
Highlights and my trip in numbers!


- country: Kyrgyzstan (although Italy is always a staple)
- food: Italy! (gelato.. need I say more?)
- city: Istanbul

- town: Manarola in the Cinque Terres in Italy
- view: the cliffs in Santorini, Greece, glaciar lakes in Kyrgyzstan
- transit: day 1 on horse over the mountains to the country/lakeside of Kyrgyzstan
- jam: sour cherry in yurt #3
- moment: stepping out into Athens at the beginning of my trip.
- leg of the trip: the Tri-stan trek.

- night: a toss up between the 1 hr moonlight walk to the secluded rock beach with Joy and Otto, and the night in Skopje, Macedonia airport
- day: Day 2 in Montenegro (the guy, the old lady and the swedes in that town)
- moment: flying off my horse in the hills of Kyrgyzstan
- meal: mutton dumplings (I just couldn't...)
- ice cream: the gooey gummy stuff in Istanbul
- sight: Jane catapulting from the outhouse with her headlight in the pitch dark in the Kyrgyz

- transit: carrying my 50 lb backpack when my back gave out while also being pick-pocketed in Athens subway, the not so safe big plane ride from Tashkent to Bukhara, Uzbekistan
- quote: "Can I hassle you?" "I would like to make love to you."
- point of confusion: why was I the only person not carrying 2 melons onto the plane from Uzbekistan to Moscow?!?! Do they know something I don't?

- The caldera views
and lazy days in Santorini in the Greek Islands
- Dinners + gelato at the Ipata house
- Eating gelato anywhere in Italy
- Walking the towns in the Cinque Terre with mom

- Dipping into the cool ocean in Croatia with Joy
- Gazing at the Fjords in Montenegro
- Exploring and chilling in Istanbul
- Staying with Abby and Jake in Almaty
- View from the top of the pass at the glacier lakes in Kyrgyzstan
- Playing the Kyrgyz card game with Jane and Aipeck in our third Yurt

- Admiring the architecture in Uzbekistan

OK, so as I was traveling, I kept tally of random things. So, here are some stats for fun!

Days traveled
: 56

Countries visited
: 8

(1 repeat, 7 new countries, + 2 nights in 2 new countries' airport: Macedonia & Russia)

Different "beds"
, or rather, different places I spent a night: 30
(hostels, B&Bs, hotels, homes, apts, ferries, airports)

ice creams eaten
: 33
(greatly enhanced in Italy, and dramatically reduced in the 'stans)

Hours spent on the internet
: 20 (mostly in Istanbul)

Weight of big backpack leaving the U.S.
= 20 kg ~ 44 lbs

Weight of not so big backpack leaving Uzbekistan
= 9.8 kg ~ 21.5 lbs.

Number of shoes thrown away at the end of the trip
: 3

Number of shoes acquired
: 1

Hours in transit
: 167.5 total

Plane - 43

Ferry - 33.5

Bus - 28

Foot - 16.5

Horse - 15.5

Train - 15

Car (driving) - 10

Taxi - 6.5

Hours waiting at airports
: 43

Number of different airlines flown
: 6
(British, Olympia, Croatia, Turkish, Krygyz, Uzbekistan) keeping it local!

At Tashkent airport - the main international airport in Uzbekistan. All of the departing flights for the day fit on this one screen. And this was one of the larger airports I flew out of on this trip!Please let me leave your country!
Me and all my documents trying to get out of Uzbekistan.
Rule of thumb: always keep all your paperwork, ESPECIALLY any paper that has a stamp on it. The more stamps the better. Just flash them all and say a prayer.

So, it took me 48 hours, and 4 flights to get from Bukhara, Uzbekistan back to NYC! We spent 8 hours in Tashkent waiting to leave the country, watching everyone saran wrap their bags and getting our paperwork in order. Then Jane went east and I went west to get back to our respective parts of the U.S. and start our respective new lives.

My second leg got me to Moscow, where I was relieved to find some English speaking agents. They let me spend the night hassle free at the bustling airport without a visa. My third leg got me to Heathrow which was my entry way to Europe at the beginning of my journey. In my fourth leg, I thoroughly enjoyed the British meals and English movies across the Atlantic.

The moment I got back to my apt, I collapsed on my bed. And then my body decided it had enough of the crazy food in the stans and ridiculousness of traveling and went on strike. I could not move for the rest of the day, attacked by the stomach flu or something similar. Go figure.