ASIA INSPIRATION SOLO

CONQUERING STIGMAS: TRAVELLING SOLO THROUGH THE SILK ROAD

December 27, 2016
Conquering Stigmas - Travelling through the silk road solo as woman

Three months ago, I took a 2.5 month trip through the Silk Road, a ancient network of trade routes, starting from China, I went through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and finally Turkmenistan and it was honestly the most unforgettable trip I have ever had traveling. The rawness of the hospitality and kindness was beyond any words that I can describe. It was as if I was going into a time machine to see how people really lived millions of years ago.

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A trip such as this carries many misconceptions and the majority of travellers may select what is deemed to be a ‘safer’ destination. I wanted to share my experience travelling solo through the silk road to encourage others to consider traveling to this beautiful part of the world.

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Before my trip, there were many challenges and worries because of the American stigma of danger for these areas since it is predominantly Muslim, with the Taliban and ISIS so close by. Even my most adventurous friends, whether male or female, did not want to come with me!

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Once on the trip, even locals would even tell me I was crazy going to these areas, because of the Taliban, and that the men will treat women in a disrespectful way (by western standards) through touch and by words. On top of that, the visa process for all the countries was so time consuming, expensive, and difficult, that I almost gave up this trip altogether.

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Although stressful, I knew this trip would change my life, and it did forever. I was careful and mindful of the religious and sexist traditions: I wore a ring to show others I was “married” and was respectful when speaking with both men and women. During my trip, I only met one other solo traveler since most travelers shared the same fears as I had before arriving and felt that they needed a companion to keep safe. But even as a solo female traveler, I was treated with respect, I was kept safe, and was accepted into every locals family as their own.

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I am incredibly grateful that all things worked out and I was able to experience, first hand, the most welcoming and hospitable people in the world! Where the people who have the least, give the most. I was constantly invited to stay in homes with home cooked meals for free, invited to a local wedding as a guest of honour, locals constantly wanted to help without anything in return, and I was always offered a ride or a bed for free!

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It made me realize that no matter how different we may be, we are all the same; we are all human. No matter what race, religion, or color, we all want love, health, education, acceptance, family/community. There is still an overflow of kind and loving people, even in this part of the world that is seen as so dangerous. It was incredible to meet people who were so giving just from the goodness of their heart.

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I hope this post will inspire you travel women to not only go to the untouched, breathtaking UNESCO Silk Road, but to just have the strength to go to places society keeps telling you no, but where your heart keeps saying YES!

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Don’t let others’ beliefs and stigmas get in the way of your dreams, especially as a female solo traveler. We can go anywhere any man or person can go, if our heart is determined. I hope that my story brings faith back into humanity, to show that there are still such amazingly warm hearted people out there, despite what the news or social media says. Don’t give up on people because sometimes they can surprise you!

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Have you travelled through the silk road? Please share your own tips with our readers in the comments below.

By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Sophia Kim of SophiaKimTravels.com
Connect with Sophia Instagram | Facebook

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15 Comments

  • Reply Kaylee December 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    It sounds like you had an amazing experience Sophie! I travelled the Silk Road last year but did it via an overland truck. We spent about a third of our time camping in the most beautifully remote locations and another third in home-stays with wonderfully hospitable people. I will never forget my time on this road – it had been a dream for many years before I finally went. It’s so nice to ‘meet’ someone else that didn’t let misconceptions prevent her from going!

    Good luck with your future travels 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer December 27, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Wow! What an amazing experience. Glad to hear that everything went well for you. 🙂

  • Reply Kendra December 30, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Wow! This looks like it was a phenomenal trip! I have always wanted to travel the Silk Road. Your words and especially your photographs have reminded me why I want to go – it looks jaw droppingly beautiful, the history sounds wonderfully intricate, and it feels like it would be adventures galore. Thumbs up for going alone!!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls December 31, 2016 at 6:44 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Kendra – glad you enjoyed this post!

  • Reply Anna January 3, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Phenomenal photos! I’ve been wanting to travel the Silk Road for a long time now and hope I get to do so in the near future. Such an inspirational post!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls January 4, 2017 at 2:12 am

      Thanks for reading Anna, glad you were inspired by this post! The Silk Road looks absolutely beautiful and so pleased that more female travellers are looking to explore it. Look forward to seeing your photos if you go and please share your story with us!

  • Reply Fiona January 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Beautiful, touching and inspiring, well done Sophia Kim!

    • Reply Becky van Dijk January 5, 2017 at 1:07 am

      Thanks for reading Fiona! Glad you enjoyed this post

  • Reply Karine January 20, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Just wow, amazing! I would love to go!

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls January 20, 2017 at 7:38 am

      Thanks for reading Karine, glad you liked this post and hope you are inspired to visit!

  • Reply Caitlin February 2, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Planning the same trip in the summer, do you have a rough itinerary ? Also you were able to get a visa to Afghanistan? Did you only go to the north? Do you think it makes a difference if I was a white American vs. Asian American? In terms of safety? I’d also be doing it alone.

  • Reply Nancy February 9, 2017 at 3:14 am

    What a great trip and fabulous photos…would be great if you could make a note on them to say where each one was taken 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls February 9, 2017 at 3:23 am

      Hi Nancy, Thanks for reading and commenting – we will try and get that added!

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