Aral Sea Ship Graveyard – Shipwrecks in Aralsk, Kazakhstan

After driving across the featureless desert of Kazakhstan for 4 days, and safely passing Kazakhstan’s “road of death”, we found ourselves in the small town of Aralsk on what used to be the coast of the Aral sea.

Aralsk is a small town, just 30,000 people live there. With the Aral sea coast having vanished decades ago, this former fishing village isn’t much to see. We heard there were a few slowly rusting ship carcases sitting on the old Aral seabed not too far from town. Since they were potentially the most interesting thing to see withing 750km in any direction, we decided to go check them out.

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Kazakhstan Road & Driving Conditions

I’m not entirely sure how it all started, but somehow this year we got the idea in our heads that driving across Kazakhstan would be a fun thing to do. At the very least, it would be an adventure.

We knew that most of Kazakhstan would be big, flat, empty, and hot. Some thorough planning for the drive seemed like a good idea.

Where to stay, which route to take, and what the roads would be like were all questions we wanted to answer before we started driving across the steppe. We drove across Kazakhstan in August and September 2016, and while there was plenty of outdated information available online, I’m hoping that sharing some of the practical information we gathered might make a few future road trips a little easier.

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How to buy a car in Tbilisi, Georgia

I recently purchased a car in the Republic of Georgia (that’s the country in the Caucuses, not the US state). I found very little information online about the process of buying a car in Georgia, how to find a car for sale in Georgia, or if it is even possible for a non-resident to buy a car without an address.

Georgia turned out to be a great place to buy a car to explore Europe or Central Asia. Hopefully our experience will help some future travellers find the process a little less daunting.

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Learning the Georgian alphabet in 90 minutes

One week before landing in Tbilisi, Georgia, we decided it might be a good idea to try and learn the Georgian alphabet. At first, the Georgian Mkhedruli script looks like more than a challenge, a bunch of squiggles and loops.

The Georgian alphabet looks like a bunch of squiggles and twists

The origin of Georgian alphabets is not entirely known, but some suggest the current Georgian script was modelled after the loops and twists of grape vines.

As hard as it might look at first, the Georgian alphabet has a few things on it’s side for beginners. There are no capital letters in Georgian, so you only need to learn one set of characters. And unlike English, Georgian letters are always pronounced the same, regardless of where they appear in a word.

Since Georgian is used on all street signs and most aspects of everyday life, learning the alphabet seemed like a good idea, since we were planning to spend a few months there.

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Istanbul’s Best Hidden Cafe For Working

There are 4 things I look for in a cafe or co-working space – a comfortable chair,  good air-conditioning (or heating in winter), fast Wifi, and ideally, a steady flow of green tea to sip on.

After falling in love with Ukraine’s anti-cafes and co-working spaces, I struggled to find somewhere good to work from in Istanbul, Turkey. The library and at SALT Galata was an okay option, but the doors open at mid-day, and you’ll need to arrive by 12:05 PM to find a decent desk to work from.

I’d almost given up on finding the ideal place to work from, when I decided to see if there was an anti-cafe in Istanbul.

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Visiting Transnistria – The Last Outpost Of The Soviet Union

We were planning our exit from Ukraine. My visa was expiring soon, and we’d already rode the train across the country from Kyiv. Sitting black sea port city of Odessa, we plotted our possible next moves on a Google Map. The plan was to spend a month in Istanbul, but we weren’t in a rush to get there.

“Well, we could go to Moldova. I don’t really know anything about it.”

“We don’t need visas there. We can catch a bus from Odessa, and people speak Russian.”

Moldova it is then.

“Oh, and there’s this disputed region in Moldova, on the border with Ukraine called Transnistria, it’s a partially recognised state. They call it the last outpost of the Soviet Union, they’ve got their own currency, and the flag still has the soviet hammer and sickle emblem.”

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