Sunday, July 16, 2017

iffy omelettes at altitude

A short drive today from Vishkut to Langar via a stop along the way at an old Buddhist stupa at Vrang. The scenery continues to be sweeping and grand with the mountains of the Hindu Kush constantly appearing on our right horizon and the mud hills of Tajikistan on our left.

Once settled into our accommodation in Langar we set off to climb the hills behind the town to see some of more than 6,000 petroglyphs etched into the stones on the hill side. Some Bronze Age but others obvious copies plus a considerable amount of recent graffiti.

The climb was fairly steep and by now I was fairly certain that my chest infection was a return of pleurisy (which I suffered an attack of a few years ago). I started a course of antibiotics in case it was bacterial.

Leaving Langar the next day we set off for Lakes Bulunkul and Yashikul which meant we finally left the Afghan border and headed north rejoining the Pamir Highway.

Arriving at Bulunkul we had lunch in a local house. No electricity or running water and a pit toilet out the back. Lunch was prepared by the woman of the house while the man hacked an entire loaf of bread into 6 chunks. Hygiene was completely absent having decided to stay well away from the town.

Paul also had developed the runs again. He decided he wasn't going to eat anything here!

Our driver then took us about 8 - 10 kms up into the hills to visit Yashikul ( the "kul" suffix means lake in the local language). A very large lake it had the feel of a giant reservoir.

After returning from Yashikul we returned to Bulunkul and went for a long 5 -6 hour walk around the lake which was a few kms away from the town. It was quite beautiful with some wonderful colours in the rock and the hills being highlighted in the late afternoon sun.

Breakfast the next morning was an omelette. I ate mine before I realised our driver had toyed with his and hadn't actually eaten any of it. I spent a very nervous 6 hours waiting to see if I was going to get sick or not.

We then drove for several hours by some salt lakes to the town of Murghab. A dreary and depressing town its only reason for existing is as a giant truck stop for intercontinental deliveries. Huge trucks from China and Kyrgyzstan pass through this town in both directions. We were changing drivers here and Daler, our driver from Dushanbe was returning home.

However our hotel was great and I had a really good roast veggie dinner there. Also my morning omelette had left me unscathed.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

border line

After leaving the lakes and the Fann Mounains we drove down to Dushanbe the capital. We only had the one night there and it was over 40 degrees when we arrived. We spent the last couple of hours of sunlight wandering around the city centre but found it fairly uninspiring (perhaps all the natural beauty of the Fanns spoilt it for us.)

Early the next morning we set off for the Afghan border and the Wakhan corridor.
"The corridor is in part a political creation from The Great Game between the United Kingdom and Russian Empire. In the north, an agreement between the empires in 1873 effectively split the historic region of Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between Afghanistan and the Russian Empire. In the south, the Durand Line agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land ruled by Afghanistan as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as the Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century." : wikipedia
The 9 hour drive from Dushanbe to Qalai-khum started well with decent roads but halfway along the roads turned to the worst kind of potholed dirt and mud.

     Our guest house in Qalai-khum was pretty basic, the bedroom full of flies and the beds hard and old. But it was only for one night. Dinner was spent on the balcony that cantilevered over a fast flowing glacial stream.

(Click on pix to see full size - then hit back button to return to blog.) 

From here we drove south along the Afghan border to the town of Khorog for the night. The scenery was beautiful as we followed the swift flowing Panj River that twisted and turned kilometre after kilometre. Each projecting bend on either side seemed to be populated with a tree and field filled village.

From Khorog the next morning we continued our drive along the border to our next nights stay at Vitchkut. We stopped at the ruins of Kha Kha Fort:

(Move along...nothing to see!!)

A couple of hours further along and we arrived at Vichkut, checked into our guesthouse and went up the hill behind our accommodation to visit Yamchun Fort: