above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Oh the “Yurt Mice”, Fermented Horse Milk, Travelers in Kyrgyzstan and Visa Woes

An oasis in a remote area - Yurts along the shoreline of Song-Kul Lake

It was brought to my attention that our latest yurt was infested with little mice running around the edges. I dutifully assumed the role of "mice whisperer" and tried to encourage them to leave our habitation. However this was to no avail, as these pesky little furry critters kept up their scuffling about all night. My spot in the yurt this evening was next to a 2 liter plastic soda bottle filled to the brim with some sort of berry jam that was … [Read more...]

Travel Massive October, Los Angeles

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The latest Los Angeles Travel Massive was held poolside at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills. I've been to the mega shopping complex, the Beverly Center across the street a number of times (one of Los Angeles's premium and very profitable shopping centers) but never actually visited Sofitel. Travel Massive Los Angeles is co-chaired by MaryAnn of JetSetExtra and Arnette of Round the World Girl. I've attended these meetups several times in town - … [Read more...]

Exploring Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan

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Waking up late at night and stumbling out of our Yurt we were overwhelmed by the clarity and brilliance of stars in all directions - the Milky Way stretched nearly from horizon to horizon and millions of little lights shone so clearly without any distractions of nearby cities. Earlier this year we saw the same awe inspiring sight from the Outback of Australia but here the brightness of the galaxy was even more clear because of the high elevation. … [Read more...]

Writing from a Yurt at 3000 Meters in Kyrgyzstan

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As I write this the temperature is falling dramatically, and the familiar mountain bone chilling air permeates everything. This Kyrgyzstan Yurt is spacious - there are seven of us sprawled out on various mats on the floor. The locals tell us it takes 2-3 hours for four men to setup one Yurt. The insides are colorful with thick canvas and blankets forming the walls. A circular portion of the ceiling opens up for fresh air and sunlight during … [Read more...]

Trekking in the Tian Shan Mountains above Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

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Waking up early this morning after a restless sleep, I watched the sun rise and I also watched one of the ladies milk several cows. The splish splash of milk from one teat to the next into a metal pail reminded me of the last time I saw this - in a small village in Romania. I have been battling a nasty flu and subsequent cold and ultimately a back breaking cough the past three weeks. A cough that is so spasmodic at times, fellow travelers … [Read more...]

Home-stay in Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan

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I always enjoy the "real" aspect of living as the locals live - having done home stay in various countries around the world. Before setting out on a 5 day trek into the Tian Shan Mountains of northern Kyrgyzstan, I stopped by the Shepherd's Life tourism office to make trekking arrangements. They also recommended a nearby family who rents out rooms. This elderly couple speak no English - we communicated via a few words in German, Russian and … [Read more...]

Start Building a Bucket List For 2015. Consider these!

Yurts, Song-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

It is never to late to build your personal bucket list - creating a list of must do activities and experiences. Our motto as it relates to travel is, "do it while you can", and now is the perfect time to start planning some trips and experiences for 2015. One company, Contiki Tours offers a number of worldwide based activities and experiences for those in the 18-35 range. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Climb a Mountain - choose … [Read more...]

No Rest for the Weary – Trekking in Ala Archa, Kyrgyzstan

The beautiful Ala Archa River

Armed with a variety of informative paragraphs gleaned from Goats on the Road, A Monk Bought Lunch, Backpacking Man and Wandering Earl and not much else in the way of plans we set off to explore the beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan. After 36 hours of planes and airports I landed in the warm air and darkness of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan at 5am. Hopping into a taxi where I was treated to music from the band Abba, silence from the driver after … [Read more...]

Travel Media Showcase & Lake Charles, LA

Sunset over Lake Charles

Travel Media Showcase is an annual industry event focusing on the USA domestic market, pairing representatives from mostly small to medium sized regions with a variety of journalists. Travel shows for the industry such as this one are a great way for journalists to make personal contact with destinations and brands - learn about some of the latest activities and attractions in each region and help coordinate future visits. This show was TMS's … [Read more...]

Travel Writing Contest Winners, 2014


We are excited to announce the three winners for this year's travel writing contest. There were many submissions this year (thank you to everyone who submitted an entry or two). The three judges unanimously picked the top two winners in that order - competition for the third winner was more intense. We received entries from a number of countries and US states - for the past 6 or 7 years one of the winners has been from Los Angeles or Orange … [Read more...]