I couldn’t get to sleep last night. After finishing the first novel I had read in ages, it left me ….deeply depressed. The book, ‘The light Between Oceans’, by M L Stedman. Great read, once you accept and get past the flowery introduction. It beautifully captures the Australian psyche and is cleverly composed. Why was I left depressed? You will need to read the book. I guess the sadness that every family faces in one way or another. Loss of a family member, disconnection etc etc.
It was a much colder night at around 3500meters and the wind whistled past the nose of the Land Rover but the morning dawned fine and sunny and the vista around us, breathtaking…… On the road by 8.30am.We are sharpening our act up a bit. The effect of altitude is causing mild headache and unsteadiness.
What a journey we have had to the Tajik border. The mountains and valleys with colours of every hue. It’s useless trying do describe it. Lets hope we can get some photos that will do it justice. The most significant statistic is the height of the two passes on the way to the border. The first at 4200m the next 4600m and past a lake as blue as blue formed by a meteorite 10million years ago. How do I know that.
Thank you Lonely Planet. It seems some joker is trying to hold a regatta on it, to claim that it is the worlds highest navigable lake!! Why wouldn’t you..:). Along the way a barbed wire fence. It is separating Tajikistan from China. Well, a buffer zone between the two. It seems China and Tajik negotiated a border settlement a couple of years ago and maybe it is not settled? Which reminds me. There is a lake, Sarez, at 3239m in the central east that was created by a landslide during an earthquake in 1911. It has grown to 60k long and behind a 770m natural dam that has the potential to be catastrophic for towns and countries downstream if it collapses. It seems the Chinese have, or are discussing, purchasing it. Like much more of the country.
Right now we are stuck at the Kyrgyzstan border control. Talk about chaos. We have been here nearly three hours. A German couple are having fun. They flew to Bishkek and bought two brand new 50cc Chinese made motorcycles. They did their homework before leaving Germany and know that there is no registration costs for a 50cc machine, but the Border people don’t know about that. Stand off. Right now Jen is trying to pay the 1000som fee for importing a vehicle into Kyrgyzstan, with no som. It will be interesting to see how that resolves itself. It’s basically extortion, as we are taking it out again, but they are their rules. Well, Jen came back with a grin ear to ear as the young customs guy was chatting her up but she did well by managing to resolve our currency problem. I am going to have to keep a close eye on her now..:). The border was abuzz with the news of four cyclists being murdered on one of the roads out of Dushanbe. Two Americans a Swiss and a Dutch citizens were ploughed into by a car and finished off with knives and guns, it would seem. It will be interesting to see how the Tajik President, Rakhmanov now known as Rahmon, deals with this. It is a muslim country that has brutally suppressed extremist activity in the past and there is an outward show of religious tolerance, but who knows what is simmering underneath?
There was a real collection of different travellers waiting to cross in each direction. A French couple on their GS1200 BMW’s, a Belgian guy and his French girlfriend? on two 350cc Royal Enfields who were on their way west from Tibet.
A group of Poles, with their two TD5 Discovey’s, a Toyota Land Cruiser and Mercedes G Wagon with their dash and elan. Neal will recall the group of Poles setting out from the southern end of the Canning Stock route in Australia, many years ago. They were in a motley collection of vehicles, with Polish flags flying and great gusto, headed off…:)
We caught up with a French girl Anna, who we met in Samarkand a week or so ago, who was travelling alone using local driver/guides. She is an amazing young lady, from Cleremont Ferrand? Which reminds me, while crossing one of the mountain ranges we came across a chap washing his hands in a stream and when asked where he had come from, pointed up to the mountains. He had walked across them!!!
Back to the border, on the other side, crossing west a brand new Mecedes 4X4 truck with cabin on the back, from Russia. Just after the border we stopped and chatted with three cyclists, one, an Aussie had ridden from Bejing through Mongolia and had met up with two South Africans on the way. They had one hell of a climb ahead of them but were unfazed, as you are after being on the road for several months. Another young Aussie from Rockhampton was not far behind them. He had been travelling with two Germans.
The people of this part of Kyrgyzstan appear to be very much of Mongolian stock. The countryside well stocked with horses, cattle and a scruffy looking sheep, Yaks and Yurt’s. It’s a wide flat grassy valley between mountains. The children are active hawking on the roadside and on horses, rounding up stock.
Clocks have gone forward an hour.
A note for the many who have commented on the blog, but who’s comments have been treated as Spam. Unfortunately there are too many to respond to in the time we have but we would like to thank you for the many lovely words and constructive hints. We recognise that for some reason, photo’s seem to become inactive. With time, we will try and rectify that. Cathy, if you are reading this, do you have any ideas why?