Our first goal is to go to Khorog. It is 550km from Dushanbe mostly on gravel road with a 3252m pass. We took 12 days to get here. Not too many km per day but the heat, some recurrent stomach problems, the load, the bad road conditions and the climb make each day hard work! But no matter how hard the cycling is I am very happy to be here. I have dreamt of cycling the Pamirs mountains for a long time so I am thrilled. I love the sense of unknown and freedom that travelling on the bike brings. New country, new culture, new language, everything is new and there is so much to discover. The adventurer in me is in heaven!!!!
The road between Dushanbe and Khorog takes us from the rolling hills outside of Dushanbe to some spectacular canyons then to a first pass at 3253m then back down through another great canyon to reach the valley of the river Panj. We are riding on the Tajik side of the river all the way to Khorog and on the other side it is Afghanistan. Pretty cool. Kids on the Afghan side of the river are waving us good bye. On the Afghan side there is no road. Only a track where people use donkey to carry stuff to their village. It looks very basic.
To enter the GBAO (Gorno Badkshan) we needed a special permit which I got in addition to my visa and we had to register through few checkpoints but no hassle there other than officer wanting their picture taken with us!
|Young girls selling fruits|
|Young "business" women selling fruits|
|One of the many tricky passages!|
|Thank God I didn't have to cycle on that bridge!|
It is great to cycle here. Everyone is super friendly and wave us. We get invited for Chai many times in a day and around lunch we stop in the Chaikhana ( tea house) and we eat and then rest for couple hours. It is also very easy to find place to sleep. If there is no guest house someone from the village will put us up without any problem at all.
|Afternoon card game|
|Awesome road going down the canyon|
|On the other side of the river Panj - Afghanistan|
Life in Tajikistan is not easy. People have little and they are doing subsistence farming. There is no work or no industry. But regardless of their living conditions they are very welcoming.
|View from the Pass (3252m)|
The area we are cycling was active area in the war between the Soviet and the Afghan between 1979 and 1989. We saw sign of areas where there are still mines and also some mine removal. Yesterday we stopped for lunch and realized there were “tranchees” made of stones. One older man we stayed at one night talked to us about the time the country was at war. As he said war doesn’t accomplish anything and nobody around here wanted that war.
|Not a good camping spot!|
|Entering the Pamirs - Great cycling|
|Family coming back from the field in the morning|
When I looked at my emails in Khorog I had a nice surprise as someone contributed to the Ladakh Project so it was very encouraging and will motivate me to continue pedalling those high passes.
I am not sure when I will have access to internet between now and China. Chances are that I will be without any access for the next 6 weeks but once in China we will have few rest days in Kashgar and I will do another update on my blog. Please do not worry about me if you don't hear anything for the next 6 weeks.
PS: Tashi is also doing very well in Calgary.
Note: All pictures can be seen on my flickr stream (link below). Only few selected photos were included in the Blog. To view photos select "slide show".