Lazy Day

Trip Start Aug 07, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Tajikistan  , Gorno-Badakhshan,
Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm up early and spend an hour or so on the bike. Tightening anything I can see although that is not much with the covering of mud the bike has acquired. The topbox frame needs constant attention with two bolts sheared now. I say goodbye to my hosts and the other travellers and head south towards Murgab. The road by Lake Karakol is as straight as a die and good and the scenery stunning. This is why I came. It is cold, bitterly cold, but dry, so the climb over Akbaytal Pass (4655m) is problem free. I've noticed since yesterday that at this altitude I need to conserve my energy and take things easy. No, it's not old age! I hear it takes between a week and a fortnight to acclimatise to the altitude. I don't want to have to pick the bike up too many times. I pass through a succession of high desert valleys. There are rivers with frozen edges and some sparse grazing but it is predominantly sand and scrub. Settlements occasionally come into sight but invariably they have been abandoned. Just after the pass I spot one habited house and a snowplough outside. I guess that is what keeps a family up here. In the whole morning I pass two other vehicles and the occasional herder in the distance.

I get to Murgab, a dry low slung dusty town spread along a river at about 12.00 and sort myself out with money, the bank seems to be staffed by incredibly young men in jeans, Tshirts, trainers; a bed, you definitely need offroad tyres to get to a lot of the accommodation and fuel. No, there is no filling station in Murgab. You ask around. Every time I do ask I am vaguely waved in a particular direction. After a few false starts and a tour of Murgab I am introduced to an old man who starts shouting at me when I ask the price and the octane rating. What a fool he must be thinking. There is only one octane rating. He storms back into his house. Some children come to my rescue and I am sold someone's entire supply of 80 octane petrol. I wonder how the bike's engine management system is going to manage at 4000+m?

And I remember to register! Though how they will know at the border is beyond me when registering at the OVIR office consists of writing my details in a jotter? No stamp, no piece of paper. Just my name in a book! Will this be enough to avoid a $100 fine when I leave Tajikstan?
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