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Talk:Istanbul to New Delhi over land/Part 1

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This has to be integrated with Istanbul to New Delhi over land. Yann 12:03, 7 Jul 2004 (EDT)


first person content[edit]

Description of a trip from Turkey to Indonesia, added with my comments and estimated time necessary. Remark: times indicated are rough estimates, subjective and do not take into account time traveled between places. This information and pictures and stuff can be found on my website

Part 1[edit]

information based on a trip in 2002 and 2003

this part includes the Turkey, Iran and the south asian countries

go to the second part for the remainder (Myanmar to Idonesia)

Turkey (in less than 3 weeks)[edit]

Istanbul[edit]

I consider this to be a very beautiful city. With its bleu mosque and the Aya Sophia as highlights. Of course, the city suffers from being not the most safe place for tourists, not everyone is nice out there and it can get pretty hectic. 2 days

Canakkale[edit]

The town is not the worst you have seen, but still. Also the ruins that make up the main attraction of this town are not that spectacular. 0 days

Celçuk (Ephesus)[edit]

For all you history lovers, although overcrowded, this site is quite interesting I can imagine. The town can serve as a basis to go to nearby beach, other historical sites and even Pamukkale, all discussed here-under. 1 day

Guzelcamli[edit]

Well, this is the gate to the nearby national park that serves for all you beach lovers. The water is fairly clean and there is some small fish and coral reef. But do not expect the most magnificent lagoon. 1 day

Karakasu (Aphrodisias)[edit]

The town is a weird non touristy place. The site built in honor of the goddess of love is rather nice. I enjoyed my visit there. It is almost empty and you can still see somewhat interesting ruins. 1 day

Pamukkale[edit]

This remarkable natural phenomenon is quite interesting and even beautiful. Except, at close look it is in general not at all that spectacular and even quite polluted due to the many of us tourists. If you are not that far out, you could consider a visit. 1 day

Antalya (and around)[edit]

This is a boring city to my opinion, nothing to do and no atmosphere. Also the waterfalls nearby are a joke. The only thing worthwhile as far as I can remember is the site Thermessos, and Aspendos where we saw 'La Traviata'. And even these sites where not the most spectacular. 0 days

Olimpos[edit]

This was a tourist hang-out for doing nothing. You can do the one-afternoon-walking-the-area though and have a swim in this not to polluted sea water. I hear that the nearby ruins are cool though. 0 days

Manavgat[edit]

Do not come here, there is nothing to do and the nearby waterfall is again a joke. Furthermore it was expensive and boring. 0 days

Cappadocia[edit]

Brilliant and relaxed scenery. Goreme being a true travellers place to explore. There are several things to do in the surrounding areas making sure you hang out there for several days. Maybe you could even stay in one of the caves. 3 days

Malatya (Mount Nimrod)[edit]

In Malatya I was only briefly but the people treated me nice. This was my first contact with so many Kurds. I used this town as the base to visit Mount Nimrod, my number one site in Turkey. This place shows some historic artifacts and even more so, a breath-takening view on the surrounding valleys that embed the Euphrates. 2 days

Urfa (Sanliurfa)[edit]

Coming from the west, this is definitely the middle east. The streets give you an idea of the surrounding region with its Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis, and other arabics. Besides that, the city is nothing special, just a city. But you go there to further visit Haran, a nice days to see one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth with their beehive houses. 1 day

Dyarbakir[edit]

This pleasant town gives nothing more than just that. There is not really much of interest there, but to hang around. 0 days

Mardin[edit]

Although beautifully located and nicely built on the slope of a rock, there is again nothing of real interest to find, except just that. But if you are near, it is just a lovely place. 0 days

Dogubayazit[edit]

The border town, and a fairly enjoyable it can be. There is actually something to do around there and if you really want you can stay there for some time. I enjoyed my one day visit. 1 day

Van[edit]

Some people and guidebooks recommend also Van, but I did not go there. 0 days


Iran (in less than 2 weeks)[edit]

Tabriz[edit]

As I entered Iran from Turkey in the north-west, this town was the first to visit. I would not recommend this town at all as there is not much more to do or see than the market area. The town in itself is a quit modern and dull place to hang out, but the people treat you nice despite the cities size. 0 days

Masule[edit]

I did not go there, but talking to others it sounds as if it should be worth visiting. There seem to be beautiful mountain villages near the Caspian Sea. It seems interesting to go out there even if it was just for the setting. 0 days

Tehran[edit]

Tehran: the capital. Not the worlds' most beautiful of capitals to say the least, overcrowded, chaotic, difficult to get around and to the main sites. Except for some museums and another bazaar, there seems to be not much to do. If you get stuck there for some reason, once you get around a bit more easy, the metro offers possibly good value for that, then the city may get more interesting. 0 days

Esfahan[edit]

Esfahan is plain beautiful and triggers a nice feel because of the fairly relaxed atmosphere. You can visit the bazaar, mosques, gardens, ... and meet people, loads of people. Unfortunately for the prices of the sites. It is hard to suggest whether it is worth going to the Emam Mosque if it costs you another four dollar or so... that is up to you. The teahouses were kind of nice. 2 days

Yazd[edit]

In Yazd you can get a glimpse of the earlier settlements many years ago, the style of mud-brick cities and buildings... So I enjoyed the short stay here in this desert town. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to drop by for a day. 1 day

Shiraz (Persepolis)[edit]

Shiraz I really thought was uninteresting. Although it is described by lonely planet as being a relaxed, cultivated city, with wide tree-lined avenues and enough monuments, gardens and mosques to keep most visitors happy for several days, I found it dull and un-inspiring. Of course, visiting all the tourist attractions would keep you busy somewhat but this is not for real budget traveler as there is a high price for every garden, museum, mausoleum, and so on that you will visit. The one good thing is that it is the city you can use as a basis to go to persepolis. This is defenitely a very interesting day out for history lovers. The Throne of Jamshid built in 512 BC are interesting ruins to have a walk around in. And although I am not the worlds most history minded person I kind of recommend it, unfortunate of the almost 8 US entrance fee. 1 day

Kerman[edit]

This town did not offer much, so my very short transit in this town was more then enough. But if nothing else to do, just go and sit in some tea house, or maybe go to the cinema. I went to Sirch, a very small town a little bit east of Kerman and went there to the hot springs, a great side trip it proved to be but not because of the hot spring nor the town itself though. 0 days

Bam (unfortunatly destroyed 26/12/2003)[edit]

The ruins of the ancient city were beautiful, very nice as well as interesting to explore and although the new town was kind of dull it was still not a bad place to hang out briefly. 0 days

Zahedan[edit]

A get-out-this-border-town-as-soon-as-possible place. Nothing of any interest, unless you still have to arrange for a visa for Pakistan. 0 days (pass through)

Pakistan (in less than 2 weeks)[edit]

Taftan[edit]

As you enter from Iran in the south-west of Pakistan, this is the ugly border town that serves as a shocking introduction to the country. The desert town, surrounded by junk and slums is not some place to explore. 0 days (pass through)

Quetta[edit]

Well, this city was a very nice 'just-a-city', bordering Afghanistan causing some amalgam set of people on the street and markets. I liked to just walk the streets for the two days I spent there. I do not think that there is much to do though. 1 day

Multan[edit]

I did not visit Multan and its surroundings but I heard several good comments by other travelers, suggesting that it may well be worth the visit if you are into nice town and interesting ruins. 1 day

Lahore[edit]

This diverse city is on the edge with India and is therefore probably the most visited city in Pakistan. The attractions are definitely worth a look with its nice market streets and beautiful fort. There is also an interesting dance every Thursday, performed by the Sufis if I am correct, try to go there, for many travelers this proves to be a highlight of their visit. 2 days

Peshawar[edit]

Your door to Afghanistan through the beautiful Kyberpass, but in itself also a nice city to have a walk through. Like Quetta, an interesting mix of people and a vivid market place to explore. 1 day

Gilgit[edit]

I do not recommend going to this town because there is really not much to do out here. You can walk around in this very bland town, maybe, or take a small walk in the surrounding hills. But I recommend to travel onward to the north as soon as you get here. 0 days

Karimabad (Ultar)[edit]

This beautiful valley is sure to keep you there for some days. The scenery is beautiful and it is a nice day out to walk up to the base-camp of the Ultar mountain. There are nicer base-camps to walk up though but the atmosphere around this town is nice enough to not want to leave it too soon. 2 days

Minapin (Rakaposhi)[edit]

This tiny town is of no interest and offers only one guesthouse that is surprisingly good. The only reason to be here is the hike up to base-camp of the Rakaposhi mountain, and that is brilliant. It is a four to five hour hike up there, and you can sleep at basecamp, at least I could as there are virtually no tourists so they do not bother going up there to ask an entrance fee. 1 day

Rawalpindi/Islamabad[edit]

The squared administrative capital and its dirty, polluted and overcrowded twin-city where the people actually live are both quite interesting. There is not much to do there though so the time I spent there was little. 1 day

India (in less than 3 weeks)[edit]

Amritsar[edit]

This is the home of the golden Sikhs Temple. If possible, be sure not to miss it as the atmosphere is strangely relaxing and just being there is rewarding as it is. There you can sleep near the temple, for a donation. You can get free meals during the day if you want, and just sit there and watch the people... 1 day

Delhi[edit]

There are worse cities I am sure. The embassy and palace area is nicely constructed and also other areas in Delhi are surprisingly beautiful but for me there is not that much there to keep me there. And the people treat you like shit, all the time being lied to. So I reckon a few-days visit would be worth it. 2 days

Pushkar[edit]

A holy city, very relaxed as there is nothing to do except drinking bang or other lassies or sitting and watch life go by at the gats. Also here the people kind of see you as the big stupid tourist that one should rip off. 1 day

Jodpur[edit]

To get some idea of the Indian cities this may be a nice choice. There is a beautiful fort to visit and the streets offer some nice people to talk to and also a market you can hang out for some time. But in itself there is not really an attraction besides the fort and one day was enough for me. 1 day

Jaisailmer (cameltrek)[edit]

The city is not so very spectacular, except if you are really into forts, but I am not. The people treat you really bad, with lies all the time... but you are there for doing a camel trek. And this is kind of nice. I enjoyed being in the desert on the back of a camel, although not extremely interesting it did offer me something to do that I would remember for a long time. 3 days

Agra (Taj Mahal)[edit]

Agra is where you find the Taj Mahal. This is as far as I know the monument that is representing India. The extreme high entrance fee makes it a tough choice whether or not to go in. I did go in and I thought the Taj Mahal was very beautiful. But on the other hand, for the entrance fee I can live over three days in India. The massive red sandstone Agra Fort was easy to skip as again it would mean paying a high entrance fee. 1 day

Varanasi[edit]

For over 2000 years this is the religious capital of India. This is the place known for the river 'Ganges', surrounded by the many gats where people come to pray and do all the other religious things. The atmosphere, although very rough, can be really enjoyable. Once I found a way to mentally deal with all the lies and annoying people I loved walking around, doing nothing really. Everywhere things happen that require you to stand still and observe, even to get amazed... You see people getting cremated, ceremonies of different kinds, and a vivid market... It is hard to miss out on this city if you are in India. 2 days

Darjeeling[edit]

Beautifully located but surprisingly polluted by exhaustion fumes, this city offers the nice and relaxed Nepalese atmosphere. The high altitude treks in the vicinity are rewarding and easy to do. The mountain town itself furthermore offers Buddhist monasteries and tea plantations around. Darjeeling also has the unique attraction of the famous miniature train that connects this town with the lower cities in the valley. 1 day + trek (see Nepal)

Calcutta[edit]

I just loved Calcutta because although this is a big city it still treats you quite good. People do not lie to you nearly as much as between Rajastan and Varanasi. Still, everything you need is all there and the people are in average quite friendly. 2 days

Puri[edit]

Well, there is nothing really close-by Calcutta, except some mildly interesting beaches in the Orissa region a bit more south. Nothing to do there, maybe swim but the water is rough. And there are not so many tourists as you might think though, and as usual, the few 'temple' attractions are costly. 0 days

Kerala[edit]

This is a region that I wanted to do but did not because of time shortage. Unfortunate though because it was recommended by many and said to be the Indian area most resembling South East Asia that I love so much. There should be a network of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals wherein you could do an interesting boat trip, observing the local life. ? 1 week

Nepal (in less than 2 weeks)[edit]

Sunauli[edit]

This is a relaxed but very small border-town. There are worse places to get stuck but try not to anyway. 0 days (pass through)

Pokhara[edit]

This is an ugly touristy town in my opinion. Especially now that there are no tourists, it is annoyingly empty. It serves as the base for going trekking around the Anapurna and the like. I can imagine that coming home from such a trek, mostly between 4 days and 21 days, it can be a fun town to hang out in with all sorts of food and bars... There are some Tibetan settlements that I did not visit. Instead I did a day walk to Sarangkot and that was ok. There are apparently also some limestone caves at Mahendra Gufa or Rupa and Begnas Tals lakes, maybe they are worth it?? 0 days

Chitwan National Park[edit]

This area in the Terai offers jungle and wild life. Although a bit expensive, sitting on the back of an elephant can bring you quite close to the rhinos around, and offer you a different perspective on the vastness of the jungle. I liked it, also the jungle walk we did the day after. We got to see some sorts of crocodiles, a bear, and some series of birds and insects. If you are lucky, there are also tigers and rhinos to run into. 2 days

Katmandu[edit]

Here in Katmandu you can find it all, the old temples and the new modern possibilities, food from all over and whatever you want to make your trip more easy. It is one of the most beautiful cities to wander around in, both during the day as later in the evening. Nearby Patan is maybe hardly to be called another city in the Katmandu valley. It is just across the Bagmati River and is much quieter than Katmandu. The atmosphere is again very nice, only unfortunate for the high entrance fee for the Royal Palace, unlike the entrance fee for the city center not possible to escape from. The third city in the Katmandu valley and again highly priced when entering using the main roads. Just take a small road in to avoid paying the 10 $ because it is probably not worth that much money to a budget traveler. Bhaktapur is said to be the least modern of the three with very nice architecture going back to the 17th century The Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath known as the 'monkey temple' offers a nice view on the surrounding Katmandu valley. The entrance fee is avoidable, otherwise skip it. Pashupatinath, the Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva on the banks of the holy Bagmati river was very interesting hanging out for a few hours. The entrance fee is again easily avoided, otherwise just have a look from up above the hills if you are on a tight budget. You can see cremations there, monkeys and cows running down the stairs. Then there is the huge stupa of Bodhnath, the largest in the country. If you have no time to actually go out and explore the Himalayas, go to Nagarkot to see the mountain range when sun rises early in the morning. 4 days

eastern border with India[edit]

I did a 3 day trek from Darjeeling. During the trek you are walking in and out of Nepal as the border is basically on the ridge of the mountain. I slept in a few of the small villages, the first day in Nepal, the second in India. And because the atmosphere is definitely not Indian but Nepali, I experienced this trek as well as my stay in Darjeeling to a large extent to be Nepal rather then India. 4 days

Bangladesh (in less than 1 week)[edit]

Dhaka[edit]

This was a very interesting city. Being a very poor, dirty and overcrowded city, it still felt quite relaxed and friendly. I loved walking around there doing nothing more because there is nothing more. Or you could take an old English double deck bus, or one of the seemingly millions of rickshaws. 2 days

Chittagong[edit]

I was only here briefly. It showed that people were again friendly and the market place was nice and vivid, even a little later in the evening. 0 days

Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts[edit]

I was also here only shortly. Police wanted to see the permit that the tourist information office claimed to be not necessary. And to do anything and I mean this almost literally, with an armed police escort I did not fancy, therefore, get out as soon as possible. But people there treated me again very nice and I had some interesting time up there in Rangamati. 0 days

Mongla[edit]

Very near to the Sundarbans National Park, this place can be used to do some canoeing in the area. The town is small and there is not really much to do there but to hang around. 0 days

Sundarbans national park[edit]

I went to Mongla but I suggest you go to the National Park, organized from Khulna. Anyways, although considered my main goal in Bangladesh, I missed out on this because of some visa problems. I would have loved the experience of seeing a tiger in the wild, or canoeing in the mangrove, ... but yeah well, you can not win them all. 1 day

Somapuri Vihara[edit]

Again, unfortunately missed out on. I hear it is very nice. Surprisingly the woman in the tourist information office did not even know this Buddhist Temple???? 1 day