We flew to Bangkok with Turkish Airways. It's a Star Alliance company with relatively good service, good food and the attendants had a pleasant attitude. Unfortunately, they insist on a full service ( hot towels, than a round of drinks, then another round of drinks, then supper, and then you get stuck with your tray for another hour.. same routine at breakfast) even during night flights and I'm talking about a flight that leaves after midnight and the cabin's lights were off after 3 am. Since it's our second round using Turkish with the same drill, I thought I would mention it.
I entered the Pamirs & Tajikistan by land from Kyrgyzstan via the Kyzylart pass. Located 4280 meters above sea level, in the Trans-Alay mountain range, this pass is not reachable using buses or any other form of proper public transportation.
If you are traveling independently, the only options are either trying to arrange yourself in a group of 3-4 people in Osh, Kyrgyzstan that shares a hired car or do your best at praying for the heavens that something with 4+ wheels will finally come your way and will be willing to take you to Tajikistan. I'm not saying this to deter anyone from hitching, as I've heard about few people who did succeed in doing so. Having said that, I've heard even more stories about people who failed to do so and had to return to Osh after spending cold & long days on the roadside in Sary-Tash, waiting for a savior (that didn't come). How bad is it? On the day that I went from Sary Tash to Murghab in Tajikistan I counted only one car going down the road (to be precise - that was actually the car I was going in!) Even if you choose to hitch, be prepared that you will wait for a long time until something will come along and even then, hitching is very likely not to be free-of-charge. You may be expected (and rightly so) to share the costs of gas with the driver. It's best not start hitching when you have only one more day in your Kyrgyz visa before it expires. Make sure that your Tajik visa is valid for the proper dates before you enter Tajikistan (if it's not valid yet - you will probably have a problem) and make sure you have your GBAO permit with you on your passport. Going through the border might take a while and the guards at the Tajik checkpoint (which is pretty far from the Kyrgyz checkpoint) will probably do a thorough search through your belongings so make sure you don't carry any unpleasant surprises with you. Going straight from Osh to Murghab will take the better part of the day so be prepared.
Arranging a car in Osh to carry you and your friends is the easiest, most convenient option there is to cross - but it will cost ya. The whole car will cost something like 200$, so you'll end up paying probably around 50$ per head. It is possible to arrange a car by asking around near the market in Osh, where all the Marshrutkas gather or asking the help of locals, like the guys who run the Osh Guesthouse.
The drive over the Trans-Alay is spectacular so try not to nap too much and soak in the great views. There aren't too many spots of civilization to stop for a break. Probably the most notable one is Karakul lake, found not too far after you cross over to Tajikistan (not to be confused with the Chinese or Kyrgyz lakes that have the same name). You can break your trip there for the night but it's not necessary.
#Osh #SaryTash #Murghab
We got our luggage picked up around 11:45. We didn't know when the last ferry to Koh Chang (KC) leaves and we were under the assumption that the ride there would take us 5 hours, so we jumped on the first option of a taxi we saw without doing a lot of shopping.
Before customs checkpoint, there is a booth of AOT limousines. We asked them about a ride to the pier in KC and they started with 6800 Baht for a minivan. After a quick bargain the price went down to 4600 Baht. If you don't need a minivan you may get a better price. If you're not in a hurry try to close a deal with them or other companies which include the ferry transfer and the drop at the hotel (The ferry used in KC is a ferry that can carry cars, so the passengers sit on the top floor).
The AOT driver was very nice, the minivan was vary spacious and clean, and he was kind enough to do toilet stops whenever we requested. We started the ride at 12:00 and were at the pier after buying tickets at 15:45.
An important note - there are two piers from Trat to KC. Someone told us that the other pier (not the one we used, the one that is closer to the White Sand Beaches) uses faster ferries and is closer to Bangkok. So make sure to research this.
Anyway, while buying tickets (300 Baht two way - don't buy two ways - see why below) we were offered a pick up back to Bangkok from the hotel at KC and a ride to Bangkok for 4500 Baht total. We took the guy's phone number in case we would want to take him up on his offer.
The ferry ride was about 30 mins. When the ferry stopped we saw some taxis (pick up trucks with two adjacent benches on their back). Since we were the last to disembark the ferry - the kids wanted to see how the cars disembark - there was a full taxi and an empty taxi. We were offered to join the full taxi for 50 Bahts per person ("...kids free.."), or take the private taxi for 600Baht to the hotel. When we asked them how 4 people would fit in an already full taxi they said that my wife and the kids will somehow fit in the front seat near the driver and I would stand (the pickup had a standing positions in its rear end- similar to garbage track).
So we tried to bargain. Big mistake...
We refused to join the already full Taxi and it left. When we offered the other taxi driver 400 Baht, the driver just snored with contempt at us ... So we took all our stuff and went out to the main road, checking our chances there. After 10 mins of waiting for our savior (none!), we went back to the driver with our tail between our legs and gave him the 600 Baht for his ride. From the pier to our hotel it was a 20 min drive, full of steep descents and ascents (not sure how I was suppose to do it hanging from the taxi but I guess it would have been fun).
Given all the above I recommend booking the ride from Bangkok directly to the hotel including the ferry fees, or simply don't be the last one to leave the ferry so you can catch your seat in the taxi...
After a long day that started in the U Beins bridge and ended in Inwa, we decided to ride back to Mandalay. We took another small boat back from Inwa, and it took us more than hour to get back to the E.T. hotel in Mandalay from the Ava Bridge
In order to get to Burlington there are two options -
(1) Take the direct ferry from Port Kent (one hour on the ferry)
(2) Drive to Plattasburgh, and a ferry via Grand Isle
We chose the second option. There’s a ferry every 15 minutes, and it takes about 12 minutes to reach the island. We visited the Grand Isle Art Works – an artisan gallery in an old farmhouse built in 1797 – and took a horseback riding.