2019- A mysterious comeback on the Silk Road

Where am I?


Greece

A mysterious comeback to Central Asia

Few snaps since 2014

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To see more beautiful pictures, go to the Wallpapers

15 days


Iraqi Kurdistan - Don't tell your relatives you go there


This is the paradoxe of this place. For historians, cilizations, writing, the wheel, all was born and discover there, in Syria and Iraq, between 2 mighty rivers : Tigris and Euphrates. About 5000 years later, while Babylon has been transfered from the first huge capital of our world, to the hell for rastafaris ; the war, the politics, and the human stupidity have transformed this places in hell for the locals. I would say that over there, everything that has to be visited, if I can use this word, is very very ancient. And the human kindness and simplicity at its best.
But actually, I entered Kurdistan, not Iraq. Probably none of you knows what is Kurdistan. This is an autonomous province of Irak, where Kurds are living, where Daesh has never been committing murders. But Kurds, the proud peshmergas, defending Kurdish villages went to the other side of Irak, and even Syria, to fight it. Peshmergas, you probably have all heard the word on TV. The soldier of the Kurdish lands. Kurdistan, it is also a land that has suffered of genocides, recently, under Saddam Hussein bloody regime. The funny expected fact was that, I was coming there, wondering about what do they think of westerners, as so many of them join Daesh, and fucked their country. But being French is something unique in Kurdistan, as Mrs Mitterand, 40 years ago, when the Hussein regime started to kill them, was the only person in the political world to pay attention to them. To even visit them.
But actually, I entered Kurdistan, not Iraq. Probably none of you knows what is Kurdistan. This is an autonomous province of Irak, where Kurds are living, where Daesh has never been committing murders. But Kurds, the proud peshmergas, defending Kurdish villages went to the other side of Irak, and even Syria, to fight it. Peshmergas, you probably have all heard the word on TV. The soldier of the Kurdish lands. Kurdistan, it is also a land that has suffered of genocides, recently, under Saddam Hussein bloody regime. The funny expected fact was that, I was coming there, wondering about what do they think of westerners, as so many of them join Daesh, and fucked their country.
But let's not get into a plot theory, just in case the C.I.A would read my stories. So many smiles, food and drinks offered, as well as accomodation, even from the Police. Very few foreigners are coming here, and they are all true backpackers. Actually, I saw less poverty here than in the neighbouring Turkey. And even pretty much everywhere in Asia. I would say that this is one of the most expensive country I've been in Asia. One of the most English speaking country to. Indeed, every body has got a decent job, and the salary are quite high, especially because the dollar is an accepted currency. So fancy cars everywhere, and even if the autonomous province receive no help from the bigger Irak, people are very happy to be finally recognize as the nation, after 2700 years on Earth. And also they are happy to be on the other side of the arabic terrorists-infested Southern Iraq.
The green mountainous land is offering incredible landscape far from the ones we could expect after 30 years watching the numerous Iraqi conflits. And the kindness and the curiousity of their people, as well as their education is simply stunning. I met more english speakers in one day, than in 2 weeks in Turkey. And obviously, which can be criticized from our western point of view. The fear of nothing. Indeed, few drivers I met fled to Europe with no documents, and lived for a while in Switzerland, Germany, or the sadly famous camp of Sangatte, on the way to English. They came back, and are now happy here, seeing it was too hard to get a future in Europe. And now, their land is pretty safe. They cought some basics of the languages where they have been, and are all so thankful about the way they have been treated in Europe. So obviously, they give what they can back, when somebody is losing himself in the old Mesopotamia.
Well, don't watch and trust TV. And discover Kurdistan, its lovely people, and amazing scenery. However, my last days there were weird. Lots of passports control, what was I doing here... And why do I want to cross the border to the next country. Iran. Where I've been again, but anytime, anywhere, the relation between Iran and other countries, including Muslim ones are very special. As they consider themselves as bad believers.

8 days


Rediscovering the Eastern wonderful part of Turkey, land of Kurds


I remember having been fed each time a driver was picking me up in 2015. 6 drivers meant 6 kebaps. And some invitations to stay home. This time, the experience is a little bit different, mostly because I look for long rides, and because I know what can happen to my stomach.
Between this arabic Turkish guy who is driving from Russia to Kazakhstan, and being drunk very often, speaking russian, farsi, kurdish, arabic, turkish, and all the Cay offered to me, when people refuse that I pay my few Turkish Liras, this sounds like a deja vu. But the stunning turquoise lakes, the frozen ones, the snowpeaked infinite horizon, and this farmers living with nothing in clay-bricked houses, where the temperature is positive at night maybe 3 months a year, the feeling that I have left Europe, is really there now.
The communication in Turkish is still pretty tough, but my few words are enough to have a chat with everybody. And everybody means a lot of persons as travelers are rare in this part of Turkey. So every one wants a little piece of chat, and obviously some Cay. While the international truckies try to exchange some booze, as there are consuming some when they go the ex Soviet countries. Old citadels, and rugged immensity of open-landcape, with no trees.
Something has happend really quickly, after this mountain pass in Georgia. And with the simplicity of the locals, a touch of real poverty is added, as quite a few migrants, Kurds, from Iraq and Syrian, are trying to survive in the cold there, because of the recent modern craziness called Isis. The Tigris and Euphrate rivers are there... Cradle of civilization, here I come. But before a new adventure, I accept to do a U-turn on my road, to accept an invitation of 2 kurdish young hitchhikers, living in the city of the superhero, and the super kindness : Batman. What a best way to achieve this Turkish journey. Where the pictures don't need to be taken with your camera, but with your mind and eyes. Live the moment, don't miss it because of the damn social network addiction.

3 days


Georgia - Finding the sun with a lot of wine


... In Georgia! Visiting this ex-URSS country wasn't planned, but is a fine plan B solution. However, the idea is just to follow the Turkish border, and enjoy the gorgeous mountainous and green landscape, to come back in Turkey quickly.
Remembering my Russian learn on the Silk Road 4 years before, is outstanding, as everybody speaks it, over 20 years old here, and as soon as the first car open its door, I can clearly explain myself. Kind people, drunk too early, like where I was before, and very generous, I end up having my first 'conversation' with a 40ish years old wasted guy during a 8min cable-car trip to go to the other slope of the valley, next to a small traditionnal village of sheperds and farmers. The night will be cold, but the nature is simply amazing, especially after my recent 3 years, with no mountainous adventure like this, and no snow perceived during all these years.
Only 3 days there, to cross the 2025m pass in a old Jeep, with walls of snow 2m high on a bumpy road with no asphalte during 50kms. A nice fortress, and the Georgian kindness will lead me to Vardzian monastery, being drunk myself for 50cts, after I got offered 2L of wine, and wodka by the owner of a small eatery, and a local guide for tourist. The Turkish border is almost there... And what a scenery for a border. But that is just the beginning.

12 days


Turkey - Couchsurfing, and rediscovering the snow


After having been exploring it from the Bulgarian border, to the Syrian one, 4 years ago, the idea was now to discover the Black Sea area. How amazing it is to hitchhike there, as locals are also doing it, and the highway are in really amazing conditions.
Between long distance truck drivers, and fast cars, a day can be use to cross almost 1000km. Looking for a dorm in Istanbul as the temperature is near 0, I decide, considering the next part of my adventure, to spend some money on a decent sleeping bag, as my current, old, one is only for 10-15 degrees. Picked straight away by crazy drivers Iraqi people, I ended up in Duzce, city of nothing special, but invited by a nice turkish student from a Facebook traveling group, and rediscover a little bit what I have been used before. Generosity, hard language to pick, intensive smoking men, and plenty of Cay, the red turkish tea.
Direction the black Sea, but the grey clouds are still there, and on my way to Erzurum, in Central Turkey at almost 1500m above the sea level, I rediscover the stupidity and the brainwashing of the Police forces in the world, as they totally questionned and searched me, just because of my keffieh, which is, in most of the Arabic world, a symbol of support for the Palestinian cause, but here, a terrorist item, as they are worn by the PKK, kurdish independantist group, who committed various attack in order to protect and emancipate Kurds from the autority and dictature of the turkish power. An iranian visa done with almost -5 degrees, and snowflakes, and I am ready to discover the green slopes of the Northern Turkey. But between showers, and cold weather, the landscape is a little bit odd, and I end up, in Borcka Karagol National Park, to see this very famous Black lake as its name means... white, and frozen on the surface, with about 50cm of snow on its banks.
I decide then, to discover the Black Sea mountain area.... by re-entering Europe, trying to catch some sunlights in a country, worldwide famous for its wine, cheese... and its hospitality. The last criteria eliminate France from the possibilities, and here I am....

8 days


Greece - Unexpected weather in Europe...


Starting the trip in April, in Greece, was in my mind, an easy way to reach a decent temperature in weather before summer. But a big surprise was waiting for me, as I never, in a week experience more than 20degrees. Traveling as much as I used to do, camping, the rain was a major problem, and forced me to take the train one day, to avoid a disaster in Delphi, famous place of the Greek Mythology.

From the dirty Athens, and its stunning hills offering nice viewpoints, to the hospitality of the people from Thessalia, on the way to Turkey, who were very kind when they picked me, I also had the chance to have some sun, even if it was freezing cold at night, in the mighty Meteora, and their monasteries perched on top of rocks.
After 7 days, and a shortened adventure, due to the bad weather, a last ride from a turkish truck driver, brought me to Ipsala border-ready for Asia again.

Why coming back?

When I left France in August 2014, Central Asia was one of my dream. Discovering this pretty unknown part of the world, wild, and full of history, where the Silk Road paths are scattering the endless landscapes.

Hitchhiking through this place in 2015, I haven't visited everywhere, because of how big is the area, the visa policies, and some other constraints or choices.

Camping next to an abandoned soviet airstrip. Tajikistan, 2015

The next goal to achieve, is discovering South America. But having been all the way to Australia, the question was, how to go from the Oceanian continent, to America. Flights are expensive, and the network not too big. The Pacific Ocean is a crazy one, and by boat will be a silly experience for somebody who didn't spend more than 3 days in a row on a boat.

So the idea, is to go back to Europe, and from there, analyze and decide of the nicest way to cross the Atlantic. But before that, on the way back from the land of Kangaroos, I decided to book the cheapest aircraft from Singapore, to Europe, Athens actually. And while spring and summer will be allowing traveling with a nice weather, cross the Middle East to Central Asia, through a different itinerary than the one I've used before. The final city will be Almaty, again, in Kazakhstan, which as the cheapest flight from Central Asia to Europe, with a great deal for 100euros, 6h in the plane, and with a comfortable airline.

Back in Europe at the end of summer, if everything goes well, I will then, think seriously about South America, probably across the Atlantic ocean


The realtime map and the business -not too planned - plan


I have about 4 months to discover the few thousands kilometers, and between 5 and a dozen of countries, coming back to some of them, discovering new ones, drinking tea or vodka with the local, playing Durak that I learnt with the ex-USSR inhabitants, and that I've taught and enjoyed with the people I met afterwards.

If I have to make a short todo list it would be :

The visa policies have become easier in the area as it used to be

Few more snaps

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