Blogs from Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, Tajikistan, Asia

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If you’re wondering whether the Pamir Mountains, the 3rd highest mountain range in the world, are the right destination for your trip, you should read the following lines. It’s been almost two years since I travelled to the Pamirs in Central Asia. The group was small and consisting of avid travellers. All were happy and kind during the first days of the trip. That was until we reached the High Pamirs. Once we were at altitudes above 3,500 m, the living conditions became rough. Everyone, travelling to this part of the world, should come prepared for both the mental and physical challenges of the journey. To my surprise, a large part of our group came totally unprepared. My travel companions Dave & MJ and url=../../Asia/Tajikistan/Gorn... read more
Bumpy Road At High Altitude In The Pamirs
Children Dancing To Traditional Kyrgyz Music
Chinese Temple On The Silk Road


Day 18 Alichur to Bashgumbez to Ak Zoo Lake Yurt Stay Sleeping Altitude 4210m, 35km driving distance. Snow fall on the distant Pamirs greets me this morning, very scenic. A solo breakfast in the little kitchen room while the Dutch guys are having their breakfast in the lounge. My bf is huge(!) and consists of tea, coffee, butter, yoghurt, cream, 3 fried eggs, bread and jams- so delicious- I wonder what the Dutch are having, maybe something different to me? I seem to be getting amazing attention. I gave some gifts to Aunty yesterday as well as a tip (she waved the money away but I leave it with her anyway, she seemed really happy with the clothing, I had an extra merino tee and long sleeve tee that I thought would be great through ... read more
Kitchen
Breakfast
Farewell To The Family


Day 17 Rest Day in Alichur (3881m) Aunty (Tamara) brings me rice with salty milk, 3 boiled eggs, bread, cherry jam and yoghurt for breakfast. M and B turn up later after farewelling Mohammed's Mum, who is a teacher, off to school. A decision is firmed up- we condense Days 16 and 17 into 1 in order to take a day off here in Alichur. I think it's a good plan: 1. Gives me another day at 3881m for acclimatisation 2. I can have a shower (!!) in the spotlessly clean bathroom and potentially wash my hair (joy), although I have been firmly instructed not to do so until after lunch when it will be a bit warmer "as I will catch a cold". 3. I can wash clothes. 4. I can catch up on writing ... read more
Central Stove
Tamara's House


Day 15 Chadbar Valley (Somewhere on the Gunt River) to Marjanay Jailoo (Summer Pasture Spot) Sleeping altitude 3840m Highest point altitude 3940m Feel utterly fatigued this morning, really sluggish. Initially I wonder if it's the river water that we are washing everything in but ultimately decide it's probably altitude related. I have absolutely no appetite for breakfast (like in Nepal as we were ascending), but make myself eat something as we have a big day ahead. We are aiming to camp past Yachikul Lake, it involves an overall 400m further altitude gain. Yashikul is a freshwater lake in the Upper Gunt Valley, 3600 hectares with a max depth of 52m and is in the "Bulunkul and Yashikul Lakes and Mountains Important Bird Area". The area is a combo of grassland, desert, wetland and rock habitats. Birds ... read more


Day 14 Guisimo Home Stay, Bachor to my tent in a spot by the Gunt River Sleeping altitude 3523m 07:00 I'm ready as per plan, no one else is (great sleep btw). 07:40 I'm still ready, so is breakfast- rice with milk, Nescafe, M and B have milk choi with bread and butter in it. 09:38 This is so funny, the reason we are still waiting is that the donkey man is trying to find his escaped donkey. Apparently it went AWOL in the night but it has been found... across in the main village. The other major delay is that our leaking gas bottle is still leaking and given that we are on the trail for 3 days we need it. B is attempting to fix it with duct tape and liquid nails. Should be ... read more
The New Toilet
More Door Porn
Breakfast


Day 9 Dushanbe to Kalai-Kum (Qal'ai Khumb - fortress on the banks of the river of Khumb) in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. Distance- 352km Sleeping altitude 1287m I need to get up early to try to repack my entire belongings into 1 manageable pack from which to work from for this next chapter of the trip- it takes an hour to create order from the explosion of my stuff from yesterday. Head down the stairs for an early breakfast- it is too early for Marian's so sit in the garden for a bit until the kitchen guy is organised. Eggs, coffee, yoghurt, muselei, cheese and bread consumed, Mohammed arrives ahead of schedule (I'm happy with early). I have a new driver- Baakah (he reminds me a lot of Dhana the Nepalese guide that i met in ... read more
Time to change a few $ before embarking on the Western Pamir Highway
 River Vakhsh
Dam


It's been a crazy 24 hours, after being denied access to the lounge at Dubai T2 I had a dispute with the girl in the cafe who want to charge me 5 bucks more to replace the dairy with almond milk. The short but uncomfortable flight allowed no opportunity to sleep so when I reached immigration first in an empty hall I was feeling positive only to be sent away to fill out an entry card, no pens of course so by the time I managed to borrow one and complete the card there were 3 hundred or so people pushing and shoving in the lines. I finally got out of there and was at my hotel by 4 but couldn't sleep, eventually I must have gone under as my alarm went off at 8am and ... read more
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum


FACES OF TAJIKISTAN...the Cultural Divide. I still shake my head in disbelief this could happen...but it did. Then when it became known...and I made it clear to them that they had disgraced the whole group by doing so...the protagonists tried to change the facts and attempted to justify their appalling behaviour as if it was to help the local people to improve their lot. But pigs fly and wind is wind. And those that know what happened...know it happened...and no conniving or mis-truths changes that. QED. What a delight to travel with the Travel Camel again...our Mischief on the Mekong being entre...main course travelling from Dushanbe to the Afghan border...hugging cliff roads along the Panj River...daring us to dip our toes in so it could attempt to bite them off...then ascending into the High Pamir for ... read more


TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws Part 6...War & Peace...the Rise of the Kool Kids. Through the Akbaital Pass at 4,655 metres...the highest point of the trip...long descent to the village of Kara Kul 3,914 metres...spectacular landscapes on our left...the Chinese border with razor wire fencing on our right. A Tajik military post opposite our homestay...cross the road at your peril made clear to us...guards with rifles visible...a tourist ended his trip by doing so...the Germans irritation that there are restrictions on them because of that. Enter the homestay...flat roofed white dwellings with the highest salt lake in Central Asia behind it. Suggested the Irish woman share the fourth bedroom with Naddya..."No way" she yawps...entering the room. "This room is filthy, I'm not occupying this room until it is cleaned...and the window sill is dirty"...stamping her feet. ... read more
Road to Kara Kul in the Higher Pamir
Black Lake
Sunset at Kara Kul


TAJIKISTAN with the Tajik Outlaws...Part 5. Sherali our guide lives with his wife and two children in Alichur in the High Pamir (see last blog). Zamanbek (Mr Zee) our driver lives with his wife and four children in Murghab.(our next destination). In the 4 months of Summer they must work and earn as much money as possible to support their families as Winter is a gruelling 8 months long...temperatures averaging minus 45 degrees Celsius during the day and minus 55 degrees Celsius at night. In preparation for Winter Sherali buys 3 tonnes of coal and a lorry load of yak dung for fuel. He also buys a lorry load of a woody bush that is used for kindling. These are burnt in a stove in the middle of their dwelling which has pipes running off it ... read more
Yurts in the High Pamir
A lorry load of dung
Mr Zee visits his sister & nephew




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