past the Pamirs 04 to 05-09-2016

I’ve seen some harsh scenery these last few days – the Wakhan valley didn’t look like the easiest place to settle down – but at least it is possible to grow food. here at an elevation of almost 4,000 metres there’s a village on the lakeshore. I really do wonder how people survive. Though it’s late August it’s cold already and the lack of oxygen leaves me tired just from wandering around the village for a bit.

As remote as the village feels the guest house negates any feelings of romantic isolation. I meet about half a dozen fellow tourists there including a guy I spotted at Yashlikul lake two days ago. His rented car had gotten stuck somewhere and he had declined my offer to help out. With the encouragement of the place’s owner who hardly speaks a word of English and has been using me and two Russian tourists as make-do translators I ask him if he could possibly give me a lift across the border to Osh and he thankfully agrees. With so little traffic coming through I figured I’d be stuck in the village for at least a day or two but I guess the Pamir Highway has been my lucky road.

The border crossing takes a while. There’s a lot of extra paperwork and attention involved with driving cars across borders, but I tell the driver I won’t be able to help him out since I always pretend not to understand a word of Russian at borders as it severely restricts the possibility of someone trying to squeeze money out of me. I hope the driver forgives me: he ends up paying a border guard a small bribe, while as a pedestrian without anything drawing attention to me my process goes smoother.

After a rough road through the mountains we end up driving past farm fields to a village just on the other side of the Pamirs. The contrast with that morning’s scenery is huge: the place feels like the Garden of Eden with an impenetrable backdrop of mountains. The next day after a brief detour to the old trading center of Uzgen we part ways in Osh.