(39) Khorog, Tajikistan to Osh, Kyrgyzstan: The slow road

I get down to the transportation area before 10, bypassing a final opportunity with internet.

We wait for 2 hours. Seems like they aren’t actively looking for more passengers, but we finally are joined by two more, and we’re off. The other tourist in the van is a young Japanese woman. 

But first for gas. Then for picking up the last passenger (at hospital?). Then for some sort of mechanical things. Finally off just before 1pm. Sigh.

They say it will take 5 hours, are they lying or stupid or do they serious have no sense of time? The trip is 8 hours. So bumpy. Bumpier than I remember. At least there were only two of us in the cramped back. 

I felt like I had been punched in the kidneys for 10 hours. The first time I was on this road I expressed my desire not to travel on it again. After travelling it twice more, I still do not want to travel it again.

Same scenery. Still nice. Saw 4 eagles. One group of three soaring together. The Japanese woman is in love with the bright orange fuzzy marmots.

We stop in Alichur to eat. My stomach is in pain so I don’t eat and instead I walk off a lot of gas.

We finally get to Murgab after 9pm. It’s dark. I manage to get to the guesthouse. I stay in the Lonely Planet one this time because I want to meet people going to Osh.

Who do I meet there but Surprise! Aziza and Yarma, who I first met way back in Mashhad, Iran, and Chris. The larger groups enjoys late night chat. We share riddles. So late.

In the morning my diarrhea starts again in earnest. For fuck sake.

I head at 8 to the market for transport. It’s dead.

I rest some more. Have breakfast. Head back to the market and get sunglasses. I don’t think they are sunglasses so much as glass frames with grey lenses.

I find a Jeep advertising going to Osh the next morning. I bargain from 200 to 150, as I’m the last passenger they need. It sounds like two other tourists are going too. I try to guarantee a window seat. Not sure if I did.

We have a lazy day. We joke about having a traveller newsletter, with updates on who’s doing what and where and on what timeline. We see the same people over and over again.

A negative German guy harps on the young woman working at the guesthouse–“If I was manager I’d fire her.”

I have possibly the best guesthouse meal yet – fries and yak.

I encourage others to go on the same hike I did with Nick and Nic.

I’m up at 5am for the Jeep, and wonder if a scheduled plan is a plan this time. It is – they honk, and I’m ready. I’m so tired. One of the passengers is a Spanish-Dutch guy I met in Samarkand.

More lovely scenery. Karakol is beautiful, especially from beyond it and looking back. Many tourists likely don’t get this far.

Border crossing is a few shipping containers. Finally, a real mountain pass.

Down into Tajikistan have to stop at another border station. Play with the dog. Wait a looong time. Vehicle thoroughly inspected.

Road washed out, we drive through a river. Russian Jeeps are the best. Stop so some passengers can get kymyz (fermented mare’s milk). A couple gets out as they are heading east to China.

We ascend again, very windy roads. Lots of road construction. Mud. Trucks. The Chinese are improving transportation routes for their goods into Central Asia. Lunch is lagman, but different than in Tajikistan.

As we get closer to Osh, there are green hillsides, the sites of weddings and parties. A place to get away to party in the “country”?

The first time I’ve seen working gas pumps in a long time.

Beautiful valleys.

In Osh, it take a long time to get to a guesthouse. A taxi can’t find the address I want. Finally I find that I have to walk off the road to get to it. It’s full with Red Cross and other workers (ethnic tensions still simmering here, the major violence was just a few weeks ago). I eventually get to the other one in the guidebook. It’s in a residential area, in an apartment building. Finally. It’s been an 18 hour+ day.