Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (06/12/2013) - 31200km cycled

15 Mar 2013

Planning for the Pamirs

Posted by Will

Just a quick update for anyone who’s interested. I am in the middle of planning for the Pamir Highway, a road running west to east through Tajikistan along the Afghan border and then south to north up into Kyrgyzstan. It is the second highest international road in the world, reaching up to 4600m, and as such requires quite a bit of planning. Tour companies tout temperatures as low as -20C, snow-covered roads, blocked mountain passes and warn of the dangers of altitude sickness. So far my preparation has stretched only as far as buying two extra pairs of gloves, 10 cable ties and 5 right-sized screws for my baggage racks. I won’t go solo though: Tieme from the Netherlands, Laurens from Belgium and Kaleb from the UK will never be far away.

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Today I leave Samarqand by bike to pick up a Tajik visa in Tashkent. I’ll then cycle south to the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, where I need to pick up the required Pamir permits. Bureaucracy is starting to weigh heavily on my progress as I pick my way through the various visas, permits and barricaded border posts in Central Asia. Everything will work out, as it always does, and with friends these kinds of obstacles are much easier to navigate.

As for Uzbekistan, I have a mixed impression. Iran is a hard act to follow. Uzbekistan is more expensive, the people are less friendly (although still perfectly nice), the food is less varied and tasty, understanding is harder, the landscape is less interesting and the restrictions on independent travel are greater. I suppose it’s unfair to compare with Iran. On the bright side, the bazaars, although hard work, are great fun with hundreds of sellers sitting and standing, running and jumping, pushing and pulling and above all haggling with all their might. The historical centres of Bukhara and Samarqand are a pleasure to walk around, especially as they are all pedestrianized – an alien concept in Iran.

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I have stayed in a mixture of hotels and local’s houses. It is required by law that tourists stay in a hotel at least once every three nights which is an expensive pain but that’s made up by the lovely man who had me to stay near the border, the farmer who housed me when the snow came down and surely the coolest couple in Tashkent Stas and Olga, who showed me the colourful side of an otherwise dull city.

All being well, I’ll next be in touch in Dushanbe – probably another rushed post given the growing list of things to do there. I’ll get on the bike in about an hour after I’ve packed everything up. Out the window it’s just started to rain. Lovely.

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2 Comments already on “Planning for the Pamirs”
  1. 6:29 ampermalink
    15 Mar 2013

    Mumsy

    The M41 highway looks a little bumpy without many food shops! Good luck and be carfull please! xx

  2. 1:31 pmpermalink
    20 Mar 2013

    Kirsi

    Hi Will,

    Snow, wow! Starting to look like Finland last April ;)

    Take care,
    Kirsi