It was a very wise move to hire a 4 wheel to tour the Pamir Highway and to leave Azulo at the Guest House. I don’t think Azulo and I could have made it alone because the road in some places was impossible and I also encountered road blocks and a landslide!
It was quite an adventure but now I’m back in Osh…Thank heavens!
The guide announced on 20th that there was a political demonstration on the road and the road was blocked! A great start!….Anyway, no problem as we merely took a car to the road block, walked through it and picked up the 4 wheel the other side. If i had taken Azulo instead of the car i wouldn’t have got very far!
(The demonstration was about the imprisonment of the local MP for corruption…The croud wanted him released!)
My driver Kuban was a lovely bloke who didn’t speak much English but proved to be a caring and capable driver.
The road went up a very steep Pass (The Taldyk Pass, 4250 Metres) to the Border Post.
It had been raining and the road was horrendous. Again I was pleased I left Azulo at the Guest House!
Once in Tajikistan we bumped along the road to Murgab some 300 k away. En route Kuban wanted to drop off something so we detoured to this tiny village
We were offered tea at this little house. From the outside the house looked like it was about to fall apart but inside it was quite cosy with lovely carpets on the walls and floor. We sat on the floor and tea arrived along with some white liquid….There was also some bread and Yak butter which proved to be horrible and rancid. I did my best to eat it! As for the white liquid it turned out to be Yak yogurt and it wasn’t too bad…a bit sour for me though!
The women never join the men over tea but I got this photo of the man’s daughter looking through a window
We arrived at Murgab and Kuban took me to his house to meet his wife and four little children. That was very sweet of him and I felt quite honoured, then more tea!!!
Kubans wife was very sweet. She is only 27 but when she smiled she has a whole line of front teeth covered in gold! I wish she was smiling in the photo. She also gave me a lovely dressing gown as a present. So kind
Kuban then took me to my Guest House….Well….What can I say….There was NO water and No electricity, The toilet was outside and fairly dirty and the bed was as hard as rocks. I could not fathom that I had been dumped here!
The next morning I had words with Kuban!
The next two days were long drives through lovely scenery on very bumpy roads.
The Tajikistan -China Border is very close. There is a fence all along but at one point there was a hole so i could easily have slipped into China!
There were English Marmerants (Do you get those in England???
I saw a number of cyclists. If you think I’m nuts then these people are out of their minds!
I met a lovely English couple who have been travelling for two years! I also saw a young Korean couple who I met later on at Murgab
We spent the second night in a better Guest House at Ishkashim which is right on the Afghanistan Border. The border runs along the other side of the river. The photo below shows Afghans on the other side of the river…It’s that close!
The next day we left at 6.30 as it was a long drive back to Murgab. we went via Khorog
One thing that vaguely amused me was we kept picking up people…It seems that everyone is a Taxi! At one Police stop we were asked to take this drunk to the next village! Boy was he drunk and also he smelt…I don’t think he had washed for days…I was pleased when we dropped him off!
We had a dip in some Hot Springs…Men only of course! It was nothing like South America where I had lots of lovely ladies all wanting to have their photo taken with me (haha)
We arrived back in Murgab and I told Kuban there was NO WAY I was going back to that Guest House…I said all I wanted was a shower and a comfy bed. He was very patent and eventually it dawned on me that NONE of the Guest Houses have showers and Electricity is via generator and only on for short periods!
Eventually I was put into the only Hotel in town which was awful but did have a shower of sorts and electricity and even a toilet!
I felt bad as the place is terribly poor and what seem like basics to us are luxuries to them
Clearly Tajikistan is very poor. I believe it is the poorest of the old Russian Stans. These photos are typical of Tajikistan villages …These are from Murgab
The food too is terrible. All I seemed to be given was soup…sort of fatty broth with bits of tough meat and some carrots and potato…Main course was rice with more tough meat and a few other things in it! All this is served up with stale bread and tea.. .
In the Hotel I met the Korean cyclists, Joel and Kim. They were a lovely couple of 30. They are from Seoul having sold their house and given up their jobs and are cycling the world till they run out of money! They started, funnily enough, in Melbourne. (I’m from Melbourne and started this trip in Seoul!)
Kuban had told me that the BORDER HAD BEEN CLOSED due to FLOODS…He didn’t know whether it would be open!!!!! I had visions of being stuck in Murgab
All through the night I kept waking and looking at the sky…there are no curtains of course. I was happy to sea stars…The next day was BEAUTIFUL….Much to my relief
We set off at 8.00 and had no trouble at the Border….except i got into trouble for taking a photo!
We stopped for lunch at Sary Tash near the Border and there were a couple of Danish Bikers there. They said they were stuck as there was a LANDSLIDE up the road….The storm that had closed the border had caused the landslide…
I wondered If I was stuck too!
Kuban was great and carried all my bags!!!! That’s him in the photo in the blue shirt
When we got to the bottom there were of course NO taxis but there was a bus going to Osh. The driver said it was FULL. I put on my most pathetic face and Kuban obviously bribed the driver and I was told to get on board. There were two spare seats, one of which I gratefully took. Kuban waved goodbye ond left
The bus didn’t move. We waited half an hour and then some people got on the bus. They arrived at my seat and showed me their ticket….I didn’t have a ticket although Kuban had told me he had paid the bus driver…Anyway I thought I was going to get kicked off the bus but instead I just sat on the floor and tried not to be seen!
I sat like that in the centre row of the bus for about an hour till the bus stopped and someone got off.. I then had a seat for the rest of the journey!
We arrived in Osh and my next hurdle was to find the guest house. I didn’t know the address but I knew where it was…. but I didn’t have a map! I was wondering how i would explain it to a Taxi driver.
Anyway, I didn’t have to worry as Kuban had obviously given the address to the Driver along with some money and the bus driver beckoned me and showed me a taxi which delivered me to Lada’s Guesthouse where I am now!
So, tomorrow, Azulo and I are off to Tashkent and probably more surprises….I hope they are good ones though!