There’s getting to be a certain rhythm to these #travel1k blog rankings, yep; last week they missed our posts and we were at #630, and for the week of November 28th, why they found them again, at up to #157 we go. If anyone is graphing this, they’re certainly going to think the algorithm is very strange…
Hello and welcome to our travel blog. We are Mark and Kirsty Bennetts, the travellers behind Kathmandu & Beyond, a website designed to inspire you to travel to off the beaten path destinations and seek out unconventional things to see and do in better known places.
Our personal interests combined with our passion for Asia and Eastern Europe have shaped our travel blog over the years, and today we focus on the regions of Asia, the Far East, and the New East (Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic states, and Central Asia). In-depth subjects include off-the-beaten-path travel, street art, monuments and buildings from the former USSR and other ex-communist countries and all architecture that falls in the genre of Brutalism (aka concrete porn).
The more we travel the more find ourselves looking beyond the conventional sights. We’ve always travelled independently and on a budget and have always been drawn to lesser-known places. These are the places and experiences that we write about.
We want to inspire you to explore the road less travelled, and we hope our mantra of ‘stop the bus’ will encourage you to break longer journeys with stops in lesser-visited places, and that our suggested itinerary section will provide you with the framework to start planning your own adventure on the road less travelled…
Oooh, will you look at that destinations page? There’s some good ones here! How about Nagorno-Karabakh? These are the first people I’ve run across that’ve actually been there:
Officially, Agdam is a deserted city in Southern Azerbaijan but the answer is not as quite as simple as that. It is also a deserted city in Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR), a small republic in the Caucasus nestled between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The problem is however, that Nagorno-Karabakh is a self-declared republic that is recognised by no one (*). It therefore does not officially exist.
(*) This is not technically correct. Nagorno-Karabakh is not recognised by any other country or state but it is recognised by Abkhazia and South Ossetia (both also situated in the Caucasus) as well as Transnistria (which is located between Moldova and Ukraine), all three of which have rather dubious status on the world stage. Interestingly, Armenia doesn’t recognise NKR as an independent state, but continues to support it.
So whilst there are question marks over the political status of Nagorno-Karabakh, expanding on the history of Agdam and what happened there is a little more clear-cut. Until the early 1990s, Agdam was a thriving city with a large population of reportedly up to 150,000 people. Of this population, practically all were Muslim Azerbaijanis (also known as Azeris). This is key because the majority population in the region at the time was (and still is) Christian Armenians…
Why, these people are even more eclectic in their travels than we are visiting the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and all, aren’t they? Let’s look for another, oh this is a good one:
Have you ever done your research and thought you had ‘discovered’ somewhere that you hoped nobody else knew about? That was us before we arrived in the central Vietnamese city of Hue.
Ho Thuy Tien Water Park is an abandoned water-based theme park near Thien An Hill on the outskirts of the city. We found out about it via Atlas Obscura, one of our go-to websites we visit regularly in order to get inspiration and find some out-of-the-ordinary places to visit. Atlas Obscure is a very popular website, with thousands, if not millions of regular visitors but, from our experience, we have often found that even though a location is featured on their website, when we actually get to it we are the only visitors around.
Perhaps we have been lucky, but we assumed this would be the case with Ho Thuy Tien Water Park. The park’s most striking feature is a fierce-looking, concrete dragon perched on top of what was once an aquarium. As per usual when we arrive in a new place, the first thing we did after checking into our hotel in Hue was to go out for a walk in the local vicinity to see what’s what. We were staying in the main traveller’s hub which is full of guesthouses, restaurants, bars and other services catering for tourists. There are also plenty of travel agents offering trips out into the surrounding countryside (Hue is renowned for its outlying tombs and pagodas) and it wasn’t long before we started noticing photos of the distinctive concrete dragon on posters advertising these tours. Bummer, we thought, the place is more well-known than we initially assumed…
Now that’s a different attitude to travelling, isn’t it now?
p dir=”ltr”>Technically, BuiltWith tells us it’s a standard WordPress setup, and as always we recommend Dreampress as your best choice for that, free Jetpack Professional and all; not too many monetization or tracking plugins, to our mild surprise.
Well, this is both an unusually well presented blog and by far the most obscure in destination choices that we’ve run across yet in these reviews; we are putting them on our priority Twitter list immediately … and we can see that we’re going to be spending hours upon hours going through the oodles of stuff here we’ve never been near, or even ever heard of. Unconditionally recommended!