Descend to Wakhan Valley
Trip Start Aug 18, 2010
38Trip End Jun 13, 2012
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He also had a long farewell with his family. While the road isn't very dangerous, break-downs and other problems do occur. The police is also more strict with the locals then tourists and he'll be gone for at least a week, depending how long it would take him to find people who wanted to go back to Murghab
We were treated with breathtaking scenery as we drive along the lonely road winding around snow-capped mountains. deep valleys and lakes, across plains and river valleys. There was a small lake with sapphire blue color. For lunch, we have fish from a river in the Pamir highland, quite possibly the highest fish I will ever eat. I was a bit worried about the bones because this is probably the worst place to choke on bones.
Life is scarce on the highland. So it was a complete shock to find all the vegetation and farms as we descend into the Wakhan valley. A river dotted with villages on both sides runs through the valley, separating Afghanistan and Tajikistan. People from both sides were living and working together until some foreigners (British and Russian) decided to make this river a border during the Great Game. There are a few crossing points for people to move around and trade but it's definitely not as easy as before.
Tajikistan is by no mean a well-developed country but it's ages ahead compared to Afghanistan. On the Tajik side, there's a 2-lane paved road but on the Afghan side, there's only a small dirt path clinging to the cliff side linking up the villages
The geography cut off these villages from the rest of Afghanistan. There are only a few steep mountain passes through these mountain ranges. In some ways, I guess it's a good thing to be forgotten in the middle of nowhere. It looks like the war in the rest of Afghanistan hasn't reached here. Lives here hasn't changed much for years and it will probably stay this way for a while. There's enough fresh water and the soil is fertile enough for food so they are quite self-sufficient. It's certainly not an easy life but at least it's safe and peaceful, probably to the envy of the rest of Afghanistan. There's also nothing valuable in these mountains, at least nobody has found anything yet, so people aren't fighting over this land. I even wonder how much drugs pass through this part of the border just because it's so difficult to get to the rest of Afghanistan.
Our car surprisingly only broke down once and our driver fixed it in about 20 minutes. You can't depend on other passersby because there are so few of them. We saw only about 10 cars in our whole day of driving.
In the village where we spent the night, I walked around and received very warm welcome from the locals. They crowded around me and were so excited and happy to see me. They actually greeted me first, very different from Kyrgyzstan. It felt like they really want me here and they couldn't wait to talk to me. We had some good laughs even though they spoke very little English and I spoke very little Russian.
Along this road trip, we saw the Hindu Kush, showered in a hot spring (hot spring here isn't a pool, it's actually a hot river), sneaked in some photos of the Afghan border crossings. For the last stop, we returned to civilization and arrived in Khorog.