It's unlikely ever to get better than this

Trip Start Aug 07, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Tajikistan  ,
Friday, September 25, 2009

I speak to Subar, my friendly and helpful homestay host, about registration and return to the OVIR office. It's closed until 11.00. I read another bit of the LP and interpreted it that I can register in Murgab but get no stamp but then must register again in Khorog, pay for the registration there and get the all important stamp. We'll see!

I set off at 10.00 and within a few miles there's a passport checkpoint. When I say passport checkpoint I use the term losely. Two of the three have uniforms but they are more interested in the bike and the Autocom speakers in the helmet than the passport. They loved Bob Dylan! We have an endless photoshoot. A World Food white 4x4 (my pet hate in developing countries. How come all UN, Charities, NGOs need white 4x4s with large antennaes?) shoots through without stopping while I'm still taking shots of the guards in every conceivable pose. My passport never gets so much as a cursory look.

I have some vague memory from my sociology studies hundreds of years ago that one characteristic that seperated middle class from working class was the concept of deferred gratification. The middle classes can delay taking their pleasures, the working class cannot. I wonder what modern sociologists think of that notion. Anyway, today I establish myself as well and truly working class.

The plan is, yes, another one, to potter along and take a couple of days doing the main bit of the Pamir Highway from Murgab to Khorog. Pass follows pass. Broad valleys follow ravines. Good tarmac follows rollercoaster tarmac follows potholed tarmac follows piste and all the time I am surrounded by peaks climbing to the sky. I am blest with a clear blue sky and the temperature is a little higher than yesterday. It is truly a magical days biking. So much so that I never want it to end. Before I know it I am near the end of the Pamir Highway in less than a day.

Late in the afternoon as I drop down from the Koy Tezek Pass (4271m) I join the Gunt river as it races southwest through ravines and valleys and fields strewn with huge boulders. Something hits me like an express train though I can't quite put my finger on it . I can be slow at times. I finally get there. It's probably the altitude. It is not just the increasing cultivation of the valley floors but the trees. The autumn colours, the fading greens and the vivid yellows are such a contrast to the high desert plains of the Pamirs of sparse grazing and scrub.

So much for plans. I know stretching the ride over two or three days would have given me a different experience but "I just couldn't help myself guv'nor."
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