Instagram Update: The Best of January+
Somehow between Christmas and New Year and running off to India for both of those and more, I managed to skip posting my favorite and best/most popular photos from Instagram in December. The past few months on Instagram have reflected my actual travel and location a lot more than the blog, which I haven’t had as much time to post to. My Instagram followed me through a frozen weekend campout in Kyrgyzstan’s Ala-Archa National Park, along on a food-focused but sadly short trip to Istanbul, and to India for a few weeks of travel through a country I’ve long wanted to visit but only now made time for.
I went for a little #hiking and #camping trip in the #Mountains of #Kyrgyzstan last weekend and, while cold, it was also a great chance to get out and see a #winter version of the country that seems a lot less appreciated. Plus, on a sunny day with plenty of warm clothes, what better time for a bit of light reading and a couple of #selfie shots? #Travel #Travelgram #DSLR #Portraits #CentralAsia #AlaArcha
The #Taigan is a breed of sighthound particularly suited to the #mountains and environment of #Kyrgyzstan, which is perhaps part of the reason they’re claimed with such pride as a national symbol. Having read and heard a lot about them I definitely hoped to find one at some point, however I didn’t expect it to be in the middle of a quiet patch of #forest just off the trail in #AlaArcha! I’m not certain which of the two of us was more surprised, but it only last a minute before the #puppy bounded off in the other direction. #animalsofinstagram #Travel #Travelgram #DSLR #Hiking #CentralAsia #nature #animal #dogs
Though this camping trip was actually the weekend after Thanksgiving, I didn’t warm back up enough to edit the photos till a few days later! It was cold, of course, but I wanted to get out partly in order to test my gear and my own resilience to that cold to see how well I might fare on later and longer trips into the mountains during the long Kyrgyz winter. To that end: it wasn’t actually that bad. I mean, I couldn’t feel the tips of my toes for a few days afterwards; but other than that it wasn’t actually that bad. It was, on the other hand, extremely beautiful and amazingly quiet. (All the more surprising when I stumbled across the dog in the photo above!)
Today is #InternationalMountainDay and, while I’m stuck in the city for the day wrapping up projects before I leave for Turkey, the #Mountains of Ala-Archa and the #TianShan are always just outside my window. This shot, from my last #hiking and #camping trip just after Thanksgiving, reminds me of the #winter cold as the sun went down and that moon kept rising. #Travel #Travelgram #Nature #Landscapes #Kyrgyzstan #CentralAsia #DSLR #Latergram A photo posted by Stephen Lioy (@slioy) on
After getting home from the mountains I think I only spent about two weeks in town before running off again, this time for a super short working trip in Istanbul. I was in town for just four days, and I only took like 50 or 60 pictures the whole time (and the majority of those in a 30 minute span!). On such a whirlwind trip, it often seems like the quiet moments are the ones that stick out and this photo was just such a moment for me. The calls of the muezzin resound throughout the city, but combined here with the sounds of bustle floating up from the Grand Bazaar just behind me as well as the silhouettes of those at the mosque door was one of those ‘take a moment to be truly present’ situations that we (or I, at least) don’t always make room for.
Though I missed the big one, I did make it to a lot of the minor tourist sites in #Agra. Even here at the Baby #Taj, the crowds were nowhere near the masses that squeeze into that more famous palace. Instead, one could wander unbothered or sit and read or (as was still occasionally the case) pose for “just one snap” with Indian tourists. I’m still puzzled by what happens with these photos when somebody gets home, but in the end I almost wish I’d asked at least one or two groups to use my camera to take just one snap for my own memories. #Travel #Travelgram #DSLR #India
The major draw for tourists and pilgrims to #Varanasi is of course the #Ganges #River. Every evening, just after the sun sets, both of these groups gather on the #ghats to watch the nightly #Aarti ceremony asking for blessings from Shiv Ganga. It is a wonderful thing to watch, though an admittedly difficult one to photograph. #Travel #Travelgram #India #Hinduism #SouthAsia #Religion #Ceremony #Portraits
A photo posted by Stephen Lioy (@slioy) on
And then, of course, there was India. I spent one night at home after Istanbul, something like 36 hours in Bishkek, then headed off to Kazakhstan to catch a flight to Delhi. It was everything you’ve heard: crowded and disgusting and frustrating and challenging. It was also amazing, and I’ll definitely be back. This trip was just a taste, hitting the absolutely most popular tourist cities in the entire country (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi). The next, hopefully, will go deeper into the depth of a smaller area; Rajasthan and the area east of Varanasi are both appealing but, really, my heart is set on Ladakh in the north or the Sundarbans in the east. Both seem like regions of true adventure, mangrove swamps and Himalayan peaks and both without the easy connections and westernized restaurants that make Central India so (relatively) easy.
I’m all about the normal sort of pretty things, the #palaces and forts and temples and mosques that you’re supposed to visit in a new place. Equally important, though, is good old fashion unstructured wandering through whatever dark corners of a place seem most interesting. To get on the city walls of old #Jaipur you have to walk up a dodgy staircase, past a viciously barking dog, and duck past two screaming old women who really don’t want you around. Once you get there, though, it’s a totally different world from that of the city streets below. #Travel #Travelgram #India #SouthAsia #DSLR #Night #Walls #OldTown #Asia A photo posted by Stephen Lioy (@slioy) on
#India Gate. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand the appeal of the triumphal arch phenomenon. A holdover, perhaps, a different mindset and a different era. This one is a war memorial commemorating the 82,000 Indian soldiers who died in wars from 1914-1921, but the atmosphere on the ground is anything but somber. Whether you want pictures with strangers or hands covered in henna, you can have it here. #Travel #Travelgram #DSLR #Latergram #Monuments #Delhi #NewDelhi A photo posted by Stephen Lioy (@slioy) on
For now, keep an eye over the next few weeks for photos and blog from India and Turkey and Kyrgyzstan and maybe even some stuff from Europe that I’ve been intending to post for almost a year now. 2015 is looking to be another year of fantastic travel, and India is only the beginning.
Already following along on Instagram? Is my Facebook Page not your thing? Check out my Twitter and Pinterest (brand new!) profiles as well, leave a comment to say hi, and stick around for more adventures from Central Asia, the Silk Road, and beyond.