Looking at some of the best scenery in the world
Trip Start Aug 07, 2009
54Trip End Ongoing
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As we say our goodbyes Sam cheerfully repeats that I am about to traverse the worse road in Tajikstan. It strikes me as strange because it runs between the capital, Dushanbe, and Khorog the regional capital of the Pamirs. He is not wrong. I follow the river Pyandzh all day from Khorog to Kalaikhum and the border with Afghanistan. The river starts tumbling and surging down, an emerald green flecked with the whites created at rapids. The mountains tower as they are wont to do here sometimes closing me and the road into a narrow gorge, sometimes opening out to cultivated valleys. Small communities dot either side of the river. By afternoon the river has become a muddy khaki torrent
There are two passport checks on the way. Both quick and friendly. The bike attracts great interest each time and there is always someone with a bit of English to do the translating.
The colours of the mountains are stunning and the layering of the strata can be anything from vertical to horizontal. It creates a backdrop of fantastical multicoloured designs.
The road, the M41, on the other hand is possibly one of the worst "main" roads I have ever been on. Where there is tarmac it is mostly broken, potholed, rutted and disintegrating. There is a lot of effectively piste which in many ways is better than the tarmac but I am constantly worried about the topbox frame disintegrating. Nothing lasts for very long so I cannot get into a pattern. Then, just when I need it most, the front brake, which has been playing up for a few days, ceases to work. At least I still have the back one. Hurrah! Later in the afternoon the wind gets up and throws up clouds of dust adding to the thick dust and fumes created by the trucks, of which there are now many.
On the Afghan side of the river a parallel track wends its way along empty of vehicles and looking far more manageable than my side. I wonder if it would be easier on there? No bridges unfortunately!
Sam, Cheryl, Elsa and Anne have given me a map directing me to a homestay in Kalaikhum. I foolishly consult some locals after I fail to find it first time
"Ah yes," someone thinks, "there was one but not now."
"But it was here a few weeks ago." I protest.
"Ah, he's gone to Dushanbe."
As I retrace my steps again I am waved over by a young many. Yes he has a HOTEL. I smile disbelievingly. He insists. We go down a track and arrive at the HOTEL. His parents house. But the room is clean.
"How much?" There is a hurried consultation with an even younger boy.
"How much will you pay then?"
"$5 with breakfast and a garage for the bike."
I park the bike in a shed further along the track and settle in for the night.
And I've done the easy bit. The road gets worse tomorrow!