#VisitJyrgalan – Backcountry Skiing in the Tien Shan

#VisitJyrgalan - Backcountry Skiing in the Tien Shan Mountains

#VisitJyrgalan – Backcountry Skiing in the Tien Shan

 

Winter Panorama of Jyrgalan Village and the Tian Shan Mountains in the IssykKol region of Kyrgyzstan

There’s something special, I daresay sacred, in the quiet of a bright winter morning. A silence that seems to stretch for miles, disturbed only by the faraway call of a lone bird or melting ice crashing to the ground. It’s a feeling that stretches across all the remote backcountries of the world, whether wintry Ala Archa or the canyons of Wadi Numeira on the Dead Sea coast.

“Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.”

– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

It’s the kind of beauty, that is to say, worth working hard to find.

Cross-Country Skiing in the Tian Shan Mountains near Jyrgalan Village in the Issyk-Kol region of Kyrgyzstan.

There are any number of bases to go skiing in Kyrgyzstan, from the top-class resort at Karakol to the many mini bases that dot the hills surrounding Bishkek. They have solid snow, decent facilities (sometimes), and are packed on weekends with Bishkekers out for a day on the slopes. The one they’ve always felt lacking, however, was that snow-blanketed silence of the wild outdoors.

Enter, Jyrgalan (Жыргалан).

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Categories: Kyrgyzstan, Travel Words | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Instagram Updates: Talkin’ Turkey – Photos of Istanbul

Instagram photos of Istanbul

Instagram Updates: Talkin’ Turkey

I hang out in Istanbul a lot. Like, a lot a lot. By my count, next week’s visit will be my 20th in the past three years. Part of that is just that, living in Bishkek, Istanbul is the obvious flight hub. Part of it is that I quite like the food and the culture. A big bit, however, is simply that it’s an amazingly photogenic city. Everytime I go, I find something or somewhere new… and I’ll be d***ed if it isn’t always something I want to take a picture of!

#Selfie time! This last trip to #Istanbul was a rough week, but the last few days I was reminded of how comfortable the city has become to me over these past few years. So many places, restaurants and neighborhoods and ferry rides and baklava shops, that I know and love and long to revisit. There are also, luckily, still surprises to be found. This trip, the biggest and best surprise was the @IstFotografMuze in the city’s Kadirga district. On a random wander to try to find some food, finding a #photography museum tucked away in the middle of nowhere was not only a chance to distract myself for an hour or so but also a simple reminder that even in places that have become familiar there is always the opportunity to discover. I need to be reminded of that, sometimes.

A photo posted by Stephen Lioy (@slioy) on

Sometimes it’s a new mosque, or a new amazing restaurant. Others just a new angle on an old favorite. No matter what it is, though, Istanbul is one of those cities where as a standing policy I never leave for even the briefest of errands without carrying the camera with me. (After all, you never know when the next Instagram shot will pop up amiright?) Read more »

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The Rubin Museum: Himalayan Art in NYC

The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in NYC

The Rubin Museum:
Himalayan Art in NYC

It was only from a fellow traveler – the kind you take recommendations from without question, because you know they know what’s up – that I knew of New York’s The Rubin Museum in the first place. It was only because of a favorite country – an almost obsessive  appreciation for the beauty of Nepal – that I decided I’d have to make it a priority for my time in New York.

Copyright Stephen Lioy - Photography and Travel Media

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Categories: Nepal, Travel Words, USA | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Instagram Updates: Best of… Summer.

Hey there! I’m still here! No but seriously, I’m still alive, even if this website may not reflect that. As a matter of fact, there has been SO much going on that I’ve barely even covered my external writing gigs. So don’t blame me! Blame Lonely Planet and GoMad Nomad and… well, to be honest that’s pretty much it on the publishing side. But I’ve also had to deal with a bit of a broken computer and a bit of a death in the family and OH LOOK AT THOSE PHOTOS!

See, here’s the thing. A cousin of mine, he decided to get married in D.C. in July. Which, of course, means the whole family is in town and everybody wants to go do something and of course I’m the de facto tour guide because why wouldn’t I be and so there’s no time to get on the computer and write anything because I mean I do kind of like these people cause they’re pretty all right so I try to hang out with them sometimes when I can. (Let’s not forget that I woke up around 4:30am to take that photo above. How’s a man supposed to write after that? I mean, really!) Read more »

Categories: Photo Blogs, USA | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

X Reasons You Should Get To Greece This Year

X Reasons to Go to Greece

X Reasons You Should Get To Greece This Year

With a friend recently planning a trip to Majorca for her upcoming vacation, my cries that now is the perfect time to head to the Greek Isles fell on deaf ears due mainly to fears about the current state of the Greek economy. Though she didn’t listen, you shouldn’t make the same mistake. This summer is the perfect time for beach-hopping or culture-vulturing (is that a verb?) or hiking along poorly marked trails through the Greek Islands, and here’s why:

Athens' Parthenon at Sunrise

  • The €urrency has never been more favorable.

Not only is the Greek economy down (like, seriously down) but even the €uro itself is at a historic low compared to the dollar. My Greece travel budget in 2013 was just under €34 per day, which at the time amounted to around $44. Today that same cost in Euros would equal around $38 per day, almost a 15% drop, and that’s not even considering the fact that costs are going to be lower as the economy continues to decline. There has been a lot of talk about ATMs running out of cash and people having difficulty accessing their accounts, but recent reports seem to indicate that this only applies to Greek bank accounts and that international travelers will be largely unaffected. Even better, you’ll be actively doing something to prop up that faltering economy – at a time when Greeks definitely needs all the economic support they can get. Take some spare cash, hop on a flight or ferry, and reap the benefits of a faltering global economy!
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Instagram Updates – Best of May

Instagram Updates – Best of May

Well, hello there. It has been quiet around here, hasn’t it? I’ve been off tramping across the dunes of Dubai and up the volcanoes of Indonesia for the last few months, and of course spending time glued to the computer for my desk job back here in Bishkek; but that’s no excuse! You deserve better! Luckily if you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ve seen a whole host of delightful updates. I mean, what better way to start your day than with this handsome mug?

No, but seriously, I spent the first ten days of last month climbing volcanoes and rafting rivers and biking above rice terraces and eating dirty ducks and watching dudes in Hanuman costumes dance through fire. Bali really is quite a spot, much moreso than the EatPrayLove-decrying hardcore traveler would ever give it credit for. I’ll blog about it all eventually, probably, but for now you’ll have to be content with the photos and the half-stories contained therein.

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Categories: Indonesia, Photo Blogs, United Arab Emirates | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Instagram Updates: Best of April

Instagram Updates April in Nrpal

Instagram Updates: The Best of April

 

Though I’m writing well after, I took all and posted most of these photos before the string of earthquakes that hit Nepal starting on April 25th. I encourage you to view these photos with an eye to the beauty of the country, but don’t forget that it will be a long road of reconstruction in a country whose infrastructure was already underdeveloped even before disaster struck. If you haven’t already, consider supporting the country either through formal aid structures or informally through a Nepalese friend of mine (one who, for what it’s worth, I trust implicitly to use donations at her best discretion for whatever the greatest needs in her community are).

 

I was beyond excited to find out I would get to go to Nepal again this year. My first trip, in 2011, was one stuffed to the top with hiking and nature and wildlife and temples and religion and culture. I spent WEEKS in Kathmandu, more than a month on a single hike, and a fair bit of time poking around places like Janakpur and Chitwan in wonder about how amazing (and how photogenic) the country is. So many good people, cool places, and delicious food. It will take time to rebuild what can be rebuilt post-earthquake, but while I have other commitments at the moment I’m already thinking about when I might be able to make it back to the region – with any luck it will be before the end of the year even.

Some of the places in these photos no longer exist, this first shot in particular from Patan’s Durbar Square which was hit very hard by the disaster, but even if the structures themselves can’t be repaired the people and culture that make Nepal so amazing to visit will still be there.

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Categories: Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Photo Blogs | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

Victory! Celebrating Victory Day in Bishkek.

Victory Day celebrations in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Victory!
Celebrating Victory Day in Bishkek.

I’m currently out of the country, missing this year’s Victory Day celebrations in Kyrgyzstan. This is a big year, though, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and likely the last big anniversary that will see a significant number of veterans of the fighting able to take part in the ceremonies in person. If you’re in a country that celebrates Victory Day, in the weeks leading up to May 9th make sure to seek out celebrations of this historic anniversary.

If you had to guess, what would you say was the best way to celebrate Great Patriotic War Against Fascism Victory Day?

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Categories: Kyrgyzstan, Photo Blogs | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments