(Note: I’m posting this 3.5 years after the fact. My notes are variable in quality, so what I give up in narrative quality, I get back in just getting this damn thing posted).
We leave Bulunkul late, after having slept long at high altitdue. It’s about 3800m here.
We plan just to get to Murgab with some photo stop along the way.
We stop at an abandoned russian base. Used for spying? It has be destructed. We spot an old bathroom and the captain’s cafeteria. There are other men here at the moment, using a truck to tear down and salvage an old wood frame. Lots of goats’ feet lying around.
We stop in Alichur to check the gas situation. Literally look into it. The drive looks into the take.
We stop at a renowned fish pool with super clear water. Are there any fish around? Apparently Russians fished it dry 10 years ago.
Eventually we find a yurt we can stop at for a snack. With fish. It’s and old couple–this is their summer home. In the winter they live in Alichur. They don’t work, just “enjoy nature.” The river fish at lunch had been caught by their grandson and was accompanied by yak’s yogurt, yak’s cream, fresh bread, tea. Delicious, though we weren’t really all that hungry. We had an interesting conversation with our hosts (through Nick’s translation) about race relations in America. I’m almost falling asleep sitting up. The wife is making noodles as we sit. The yurt has a satellite dish and DVD player.
We joke that the hole in the roof is their incandescent light.
Our host speaks a bit of English. “Come please.” “Tea drink.”
He tells us that “up here, the land is everyone’s.”
A yurt costs $3000. $2500 for a Russian Jeep. Sounds like a great summer to me. I imagine having a little yurt off the main road. I’d have a sign at the road with an arrow pointing down to the yurt — BANANA PANCAKES. BOOK EXCHANGE. Wouldn’t the cyclists be dumbfounded.
We leave, and as we descend to Murgab we pick up a local hitchhiker.
In Murgab, we find out that META (the community-based tourism agency) is no longer. Our driver explains high commissions and a requirement to be involved as reasons. At the home stay we end up at, it’s $2 for everything–breakfast, lunch, dinner, shower. I guess this means sleeping is $2 too?
I indulge in the $2 “shower”. Scrub feet. Hot water. So good. Clean clothes. Sunny little sitting area.
I will sleep soundly again tonight.
We tipped our driver, and he offered to drive us to ACTED tomorrow (another community development initiative). We may do a hike.