As I make my way further east I settle down in a homestay and spend a day hiking up to another hot spring and some impressive ruins of a centuries-old fortress. Yet another few kilometers down the road I stay in homestay with a guy who learned a bit of English and founded a museum of local culture. Cars are getting few and far between but it seems like every village has at least one bed and breakfast catering to the tourists coming through on bikes or in cars. In a way the poorest region of Tajilkistan has the best tourist infrastructure.
At the point where the road stops following the Panj river and starts heading into the mountains local traffic on the Pamir highway dies off almost completely. Only tourists and soldiers take this road. So I start sticking out my thumb whenever a car comes along which is not very often, luckily I brought a book along. By the end of the day I’m still in the same place and I decide against spending the night by the roadside and take up the offer of a night in a homestay. Somewhere it feels weird to spend a day waiting for a free ride only to pay for a meal and a comfortable bed in the evening.
Later the next afternoon I’m finally taken along by a Tashkent-based Pakistani tour guide and his Tajik assistant and driver. They make for really interesting company through an impressively harsh landscape. We part on the other end as I head to a lake about 20 kilometres down a side road off the highway and the guide goes the other way to pick up a bunch of tourists from Lenin Peak.