Like any great travel destination, the more you explore Central Asia, the more there is to see. Japan constantly surprises me – I never fail to be amazed at both its non-stop energy and fiercely-held traditions. It’s a country I keep coming back to – Tokyo’s buzz is addictive, and only the terminally unromantic can failed to be moved by Kyoto’s blossom, tea ceremonies and zen gardens. I probably prefer the capital though. It’s got the bustle, from the early morning mayhem of the fish market to late-night karaoke and jumping nightlife, but it’s also got a blissfully peaceful side of shrines and gardens – a great mix. Away from the cities, I was bowled over by the mountains, not just Fuji, which is perfect, but by the Japanese Alps – so close to the city and really unspoilt. It’s obvious when you’re walking the pristine hills just how much the Japanese revere and care for their outdoors. A few days in the cities, then some time in the countryside walking and soaking in the onsens, all the while feasting on what I reckon is the world’s finest cuisine, is the ultimate Japanese holiday. I reckon ten years from now Central Asia is going to be one of the hottest adventure destinations. I visited Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and they’re both incredible – the former for the grand buildings that rose out of its religion and silk route history, the latter for astounding scenery that is often literally untouched. There are giant 5000+metre mountains everywhere in Kyrgyzstan that are begging to be explored. I did a couple of walks in the valleys and foothills that are often alpine in feel, but without any development. It’s how I imagine the Himalayas or Europe’s Alps must have looked a couple of centuries ago. I’ll definitely be back for more exploration. And maybe next time I do I’ll also be able to take in Mongolia – stories I’ve heard and photos I’ve seen from friends who have been there have never failed to turn me green with envy! It looks full of endless plains and enormous skies, and if I’m feeling adventurous I’d head to the west where the Altai Mountains rival Kyrgyzstan in offering the last word in remote, wild trekking.
"Generally a good trip and let us do and see things we would have found more difficult on our own. Packed a lot in to time but had good balance between free time and organised time."