A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about border

Day Trip to Niagara

Canada - Niagara Falls

sunny 22 °C
View Canada on kmmk17's travel map.


My first visit to Niagara Falls was back in the cold of November 2013, being stuck on the American side. Whilst you can walk between the falls and get right up close next to them, the way the falls are laid out means you don't really get to see them very well. I had at that point planned to quickly cross the border, but being short on time I decided this would have to be for some point in the future.

After then thinking more about visiting Canada itself, I decided it would be nice to see more of the country anyway, and with the opportunity at hand, booked the trip, and made an excursion to the better side of Niagara Falls part of it.

After a day of exploring Toronto with Halina, today Fara and I headed by ourselves to the waterfalls, and after a 2 hour coach trip arrived at the northern end of the border town. Being unsuccessful in navigating the buses, we walked along the Niagara gorge with views of the USA, before finally approaching the waterfall itself. And it soon became clear just how much more impressive it is to see it from this side.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

From the Canadian side, the whole falls structure becomes like an auditorium, and with it being a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed the light spray emerging from the crashing water, as we walked down towards the edge of the waterfalls themselves.

Overlooking the border bridge and the American Falls

Overlooking the border bridge and the American Falls

Other than the falls themselves, there wasn't an awful lot to see and do in the town - we had decided against crossing to the American side anyway, and didn't see a massive benefit of going on the boats, and so instead headed to grab some food, avoiding the much ruder Americans that had crossed the border, as opposed to the Canadians who were incredibly friendly.

And that's pretty much where today's story ends. We headed back to Toronto before our onward travel to Ottawa the following day.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:32 Archived in Canada Tagged waterfall border wet niagara Comments (0)

The Tian Shan

Central Asia - The Tian Shan

sunny 12 °C
View Central Asia on kmmk17's travel map.


Much like the previous day, today's journey continued the skirting of the Fergana Valley borders, before we then ascended into the Tian Shan mountains that transverse Kyrgystan.

With a very early start, we boarded the coach before sunrise - and as everyone by this stage had got at least mild diarrhoea, the thought of spending twelve hours on the coach wasn't exactly filling everyone with total excitement. Although quotes like "Treated myself to an immodium this morning" and "You know you're better when you can trust a fart again" did lighten the mood.

Uzbek Border Fence

Uzbek Border Fence

Whilst we skirted the Uzbek border passing through more villages with Afghan War Memorials, I continued to nap for a while before waking up to enjoy the views of the scenery.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

We then began climbing the mountains, passing numerous flocks of sheep and horses as we reached Lake Toktogul.

Lake Toktogul

Lake Toktogul


Stopping off en route many times for views of the rivers, lakes and hills, we then eventually made it to the highest point of the trip where the ground and hills were covered in snow.

Snowy Tian Shan

Snowy Tian Shan


Yurts

Yurts

After a mini snowball fight, we made our way down the northern side of the mountain range, passing yurts and more fantastic views before landing in the valley and making our way to Bishkek just after nightfall.

Meal Time

Meal Time

After a long busy day's travelling we checked in to our hostel and then headed out to a local pub for dinner. Although with it being so late, the number of us making it out was quite small. However the next day was a free day and thus we could finally have a lie in!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Kyrgyzstan Tagged mountains snow border centralasia Comments (0)

Delightful Dushanbe

Central Asia - Dushanbe

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Central Asia on kmmk17's travel map.


Waking up on Sunday morning - we had our last breakfast in Uzbekistan, before boarding our coach to take us to the Tajik border.

Whilst the exit from Turkmenistan and entry into Uzbekistan had been bad enough - with checks for carpets and drugs, it was the exit from Uzbekistan that would be the worst border experience on the trip.

Upon arrival we were given customs forms in which we were told to simplify our currency exports to just USD and EUR. However what they were really after was anything they could fine you for - pornography, photos of the border, drugs etc.

Quickly deleting anything that may cause a problem, I then had to pass over my phone and camera whilst the officials inspected all photos, whilst I put my bags through a scanner. Luckily I did not have a laptop with me - as those who did were subjected to an even longer experience, having "sex" and "porn" searched through their files.

I was then quizzed on what the contents of my baggage was, before having to show them all my drugs. Going back to the desk I still had to wait whilst my photos were inspected. I was then told to have another temperature test before being able to wait in a painfully slow queue to hand in my passport for the immigration check.

Eventually I was able to leave Uzbekistan and walk towards Tajikistan - or so I thought, as right at the final exit point I was required to hand over my phone again for the border guard to check my photos, on which he proceeded to quiz me over this year's holiday snaps, whilst looking for photos of naked women.

3D Tajik Map

3D Tajik Map

Upon arrival into Tajikistan, the process was far simpler, although there was little signage and many empty buildings, I did eventually find the right way, where they quickly stamped my passport, jotted down my name and details and let me through. Of the two hour process, perhaps 5% of it was actually spent on the Tajik side....leaving a rather sour taste in the mouth for what had been an enjoyable trip to Uzbekistan. According to our guide, it was worse treatment than you receive leaving North Korea!

Wedding in Hisor

Wedding in Hisor

Nevertheless we continued our travel and en route to the Tajik capital, we stopped off at Hisor to view the castle, as well as gain an insight into the make-up of the country, as well as witnessing local wedding celebrations.

Dushanbe

Dushanbe

We then finally headed to the beautiful Dushanbe, the city surrounded by mountains, and covered in photos of the president.

One of the many presidential posters

One of the many presidential posters


Parliament

Parliament

We began opposite the parliament building, before entering the Rudaki Park, viewing the surrounding monuments and buildings like the Independence monument, Palace of the Nation and Flag Pole.

Rudaki Park

Rudaki Park

We then went to our hotel - the 5* Dushanbe Sheraton, treating ourselves to a bit of luxury after the stressful morning.

5*

5*

After a quick swim at the hotel pool, some of us then headed out to the restaurant, where we had our own private room - complete with, you guessed it, kebab meat, bread and soup.

Private Meal

Private Meal

After the busy stressful day, we then headed back to the hotel for a well earned rest in our luxurious rooms before tomorrow's long drive to the Fergana Valley.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains wedding city parliament border centralasia Comments (0)

Almost Afghanistan

Central Asia - Termez

overcast 22 °C


After an overnight train from Samarkand, the following morning we arrived in the dusty border town of Termez, located on a headland facing Afghanistan.

Arriving in Termez

Arriving in Termez

After saying goodbye to Edwin, our Dutch companion who was headed into Afghanistan itself, we headed to the hotel to drop our bags before heading back onto the coach for our tour of the border city.

Entrance to the mausoleum

Entrance to the mausoleum

Termez, sitting right next to the failed state of Afghanistan naturally had a large buffer zone separating itself from it's neighbour. However at certain points the buffer was narrowed for historic attractions. This included our first sight - the Al Khakim At Termizi Mausoleum, dedicated to an ancient religious leader. This was just metres from the riverbank, and thus less than half a kilometre from Afghanistan itself. Not that you'd know, as it was surrounded by a bund on all sides.

Jim at the Temple overlooking Afghanistan

Jim at the Temple overlooking Afghanistan

Our next sight was the Fayaz Tepa - an ancient Buddhist temple. From the grounds of the complex you could see the border fence and watchtowers in all directions; whilst on the way back to the city for lunch we could briefly see Afghanistan itself across the Amu Darya river.

The border

The border

After having lunch, we spotted an Afghan diplomatic car, and so Christine put her scarf around her face - pretending for a moment we had left liberal Uzbekistan and entered the Islamic world.

"Afghanistan"

"Afghanistan"


Kyrk Kyz

Kyrk Kyz

We then boarded the coach again and made our way to the Kyrk-Kyz Palace before going to the Sultan Saodat Ensemble for our last sight in the city.

Sultan Saodat Ensemble

Sultan Saodat Ensemble

We then had the afternoon free, which gave me an opportunity to rest and repack my suitcase before our final dinner in Uzbekistan - with it also being Simon's birthday, we had a special cake and concluded our five days in the country before continuing our tour into Tajikistan in the morning.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged temple border centralasia Comments (0)

The start of the Silk Road

Central Asia - Konye Urgench

sunny 30 °C
View Central Asia on kmmk17's travel map.

Dawn at the Door to Hell

Dawn at the Door to Hell

Waking up in the desert, taking one last look at the Door to Hell, we got back in our 4x4s and headed towards the border.

Driving through the desert towards Uzbekistan

Driving through the desert towards Uzbekistan

This was a long drive, taking four hours along atrocious pot hole-littered roads stopping en route at the historic Konye Urgench.

Unlike the rest of wacky Turkmenistan, Konye Urgench was much more like what we would be seeing in Uzbekistan - being a UNESCO Silk Road historic city. However being Turkmenistan the site was relatively underdeveloped and dilapidated.

Konye Urgench

Konye Urgench

Walking around the site, consisting of a number of mausoleums, a minaret and a mosque, we got a feel for the next few days before finally heading to the border.

After a long crossing, including a health check and a taxi ride across no-man's land we eventually made it to our coach on the Uzbek side that would take us to the historic city of Khiva and our first night in a hotel in four days. Bizarrely, as unwelcome as we were made to feel by Border Control, as soon as we drove along the local roads every cotton picker and child stopped to wave at us. A nice touch, even if slightly spurious.

In Uzbekistan there is still a resistance to accepting that inflation has occurred. Despite the fact that $1 buys 3,000 Som, the highest note that is seen on the street is the 1,000 Som note. In addition to this, there is a black market that gives us double the amount of Som.

£25 later...

£25 later...

After us all converting our money for the next five days we ended up with a massive bag full of notes. For just £25 I had two large wads of money to carry around with me. No wallets needed in Uzbekistan - just bags.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Turkmenistan Tagged history fire border gas crater centralasia silkroad Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 28) Previous « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 » Next