Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cycling Day 6-8 - Along the Afghan Border

Kala-i-Khumb - Khorog

Kala-i-Khumb (1300m) - Camp 4 -Vanj Valley (1600m)

Sun 23 Aug. 09
Today we started to ride along the Afgan - Tajik border. The two countries are only devided by a river and we will cycle for the next 3 days along that river.
Its amazing but entering that area we have the impression, people are getting friendlier and friendlier. The scenery is just incredible on the afgan side side you see serious mountain trails and people walking there with their mules and we on the other side have a "fairly" well paved road and going along on it. The secenery changes, sometimes you only see rocks and sand, sometime green areas ... this for sure mostly there where water is coming down the mountains and thats where you also find the settlements. It is extremly hot ... we have 44 degrees and i got blisters on my sshoulders ... we got warned already from some soldiers which are patrouling along the border. Those are 16 - 18 year old guys fully armed and seem to be bored ... so they stop cyclist, ask for the passports and then try to get some money out of it. We heard people given theri passports and had to pay a lot of money to get them back. This day we met 2 on the road but we just passed them and cycled with our noirmal speed today we were lucky.
We looked for a place to pitch our tent and found a bice spot. We decided to not pitch the tent and sleep under free sky. The stones on the floor where giving us a hard time and then the wind started ... we woke up in the morning and both agrred that it wasnt the most comfortable night we had in our lives even so it was worth it to sleep in with the soundtrack "Into the wild".

Camp 4 -Vanj Valley (1600m) - Vomar

Mon 24 Aug. 09
The scenery gets every day more impressive. The heat stays the same 44 degrees. Early in the morning we bumped again into 3 soldiers. This time we had to stop. I bribed them with some candies out of my BloodRed - chocolate bar bag but still they insisted on passports and money. We showed them the copies and gave them 5 Somoni (less then a Euro) and they let us pass. The 1st 35km went quite fast, and we were enjoying the countryside. The road is definitl improving and watching over to the Afghan viallages ... let the kilometers pass.
The next 25km was a torture ... the heat got almost unbearable and we missed the "lunch" place. There are not so many places and if you miss the view existing onces that will give you a hard time. We had a climb to get over and with the heat and no shadow ... that wasn't so easy. But at the end we reached Shidz, a nice place at a lake (or better saying where the river gets wider) where we had tea, bread and a melon. The local "chief" tried Martins bike and we had a lot of fun, because he couldnt find the breaks and thats why he didn't turn but continued cycling and cycling ... Martin got already nervous but finally he came back. After that welcome break and the fact that the temperature went down ... we started with the last 30 km of the day. It went very fast on good road and nice scenery. The last 5 km before Vomar was like cycling the last few kms into Paris of the Tour de France. Kids and farmers were greeting us from the fields and we heard at least a 100 times "Ad Kuda" ... what we later found out means where are you coming from.
We had a nice sausage and a beer before we tried to find a place in Vomar. With some local help we stayed in the governors place ... not such a bad option, except that the shower water was black ... and we were wondering if he never has guests or what ... anyway there was some much water flowing in the city that we were able to was ourselves.

Vomar - Khorog
Di 25 aug
It was a nice and easy ride ...the 60 last km to Khorog. We found a nice spot 10km after Vomar where it would be nice to have a coffee but we were to much in the mood for Khorog and continued cycling. Another 10km later we stopped at a creek, where kids and young girls sold Cocoa Cola, Snickers , Mars and Beer cooled by the running water. We had a tea and chatted with the girl to find out that she studies english and german in Dushanbe. It was quite impressive what she had learned alreday adn we were impressed by her business idea. For 8 days along the road from Dushanbe to here we were looking for something like that.
We continued and had another stop around 20km later on a well, where we hadf a coffee ebfore we continued our way to Khorog. Khorog was in a way disapointing. You expect for such places an oasis to chill out and rest before you continue ... like Pokhara in Nepal, or ... but this wasn´t really it.
We found ourserlfes anyhow a nice spot at the river and celebraeted our first 500km with some cold beerOur guesthouse was an old house we had totally for ourselves, 2 rooms 10 USD each. On our serach to some decent food we found a coffee at the river side (quite fancy) and they serve westernb dishes cheeseburger and chips was a nice decision.

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