CONTINUED FROM PART 10 KHOROG –
MAY 13 th, 2018
In Murghab, we find the Pamir Hotel, a small house with fitting rooms and beds. The only problem: it is not heated, and it is freezing cold inside.
When opening the taps the shower stays dry, but at least we have a WC in the room and do not have to go to a courtyard to the outside toilet.
The manager of the hotel is Tajik and surprisingly speaks not only English but also German. He has learned German at school in Osh, and we talk for a long time about his plans for the development of tourism in Pamir.
Besides us, there are also some Russians there, but they are traveling by car. He also informs us about the condition of the road and the passages that are still ahead of us.
All right, he says, only the departure from the last pass in Tajikistan, where the border crossing to Kyrgyzstan is, is awkward, he says. As it turns out later, he has not been exaggerating.
When driving off, we look forward to a relatively good road to the four thousand six hundred and fifty-meter high Akbaytal Pass.
As usual, the actual pass height is again gravel road, but we cross it without problems. On the one hand, the next hundred kilometers offer beautiful views of the peaks of the Pamir Mountains and finally a ride along the Karakul Lake, which is still frozen.
The sky is blue and cloudless, the mountains are white and snowy and the sun shines bright. Two passes are still ahead of us, the Uy Bulog Pass, four thousand two hundred meters high, and the Kizil Art Pass, four thousand three hundred meters on the border with Kyrgyzstan.
The runway is not so bad – we’ve already gotten used to the many potholes – but for miles on it’s been plowed through with extremely unpleasant cross grooves, which did not sooth us ( and the BMW ).
Finally, that’s done, we cross the penultimate pass and make the climb to the last. It is not much different from the previous ones and we are already on the pass. There a few booths and containers for the border area are nestled .
We stop and now I see what the hotel manager in Murghab meant by difficult. The whole area at the border crossing is plowed with half a meter high mud tracks. Thank God it has not rained for some days and therefore the tracks are dry today.
BORDER TAJIKISTAN – KIRGYSTAN
We make it to the other side of the border and we complete the customs formalities. Done, I think, but far from it.
Departing from the Kizil Art Pass on the Kyrgyz side sheerly is a nightmare.
Snowmelt trails cross the slopes from the mountain slopes, which, on top of that, wind down the valley in steep serpentines. Although I usually find a dry track but in some places I have no choice: into the mud, eyes closed and all the way passing through it.
Miraculously our bike digs through all the mud forwards and we make it to the valley without crashing – or getting stuck. If the weather had been a little different – wet – we would not have had a chance to get down the mountain road.
Once again, I admire You Song, who sits behind me without panic and calms and cheers me again and again. I’m sweating and entirely cramped when we’re finally on a more standard road.
Another customs checkpoint in Kyrgyzstan and after a ten-dollar customs fee we are on our way to Sary Tash, the first significant settlement in Kyrgyzstan. Sary Tasch lies on the edge of a mountain slope on the other side of a broad valley, and we admire the magnificent mountain panorama of the Pamir, which extends here to China.
Here we find again a “Hotel”, which however has the character of a farm. Four Hungarians with their motorbikes are already there, but they plan the opposite way from Osch over the Pamir Highway. The leader of the group knows the track precisely because he has traveled on it often.
Finally, there are four other travelers, three boys and a girl; they arrived from China and are moving without vehicle. They check local transport facilities, and progress so gradually.
We talk and share our experiences before heading to our warehouse – two mattresses on the floor in a walk-through room that looks like a mixture of kitchen and living room. No matter, for ten dollars per person including dinner and breakfast it fits, especially considering the magnificent view of the snow-capped Pamir Mountains, which is free.
The toilet is a bit different this time: outside the house, across the yard; passing through a gate, three meters down, over two cows.
In the night one fears for his safety going to the bathroom; you pass with the flashlight, then over two running planks and you find it there in the ground.
The morning brings back fantastic weather.
And then we are heading for Osch in Kyrgyzstan. From here the road is a dream: fully asphalted, no potholes and a beautiful landscape.
First, it goes over the Taldyk Pass, which does not frighten us with its three thousand six hundred meters. Then we drive through beautiful valleys which are beautiful again slowly green, we finally see the first bushes and trees still.
We feel like we are in the high mountains in the Alps, but the houses are different, and the landscape looks rougher and wilder. We meet many schoolchildren, who wave to us and hardly come back with the back wave.
It is about two hundred kilometers to Osch, but they are not a problem on the perfect road. The Kyrgyz city of Osh lacks only an “M” to perfection, so we have high expectations and are looking forward to it.
In Osh, we are looking for a hotel and get lucky. After the hardships of the last few days we want to rest properly and the hotel, whose name I can not decipher, because it is written in Cyrillic, offers all the general pool.
In three days we want to start again, towards Bishkek, that is about six hundred kilometers. So we will need at least an overnight stay, but the route to Bishkek should be beautiful.