Day 69 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: From just past Tajikistan border to Karakol Lake (just past Karakol Town) (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 47.7km
Time / 時間: 3h 38m
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.2km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 3214.2km

English summary: Uybulaq Pass was a no brainer, and after that a long downhill to Karakol Lake. I was counting on getting water from the lake, but I’m a bit concerned about the fact that the lake isn’t fresh water. It is slightly salty…filtered some anyway, and I guess I’ll find out soon enough if it is a bad idea to drink it.

ありえませんよ、この景色。自転車をちゃんと漕げないくらい周りがすっごいんです。写真を撮っても、その美しさが伝わりません。

The shores of Karakol Lake, Tajikistan / タジキスタンのカラコル湖岸

しかし今日はちょっと疲れ気味です。なぜなら、食べ物の計画に失敗したからです。食事(朝、昼、晩)の分はちゃんとありますが、その間に食べるおやつは足りません。食事と食事の間に何かを食べないとエネルギーがとても持ちません。ムルガブ町(Murghab)まで後2日間かかるでしょう。また食べ物が切れちゃうのか。

One the descent to Karakol Lake, Tajikistan / カラコル湖へ下る途中(タジキスタン)

それに、ちょっと心配なのは水です。湖のそばに野宿していますが、湖は清水ではなくて、ほんの少し塩水のようです。問題にならないでしょうが、大丈夫なのかな・・・

Snow? No, minerals - Karakol Lake, Tajikistan / 雪?いいえ、塩(タジキスタン、カラコル湖)

Day 68 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: Just past Sari-Tash to just past Tajikistan border

Distance / 距離: 45km
Time / 時間: 4h 54m
Average speed / 平均速度: 9.4km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 3166.5km

I have ascended and then descended on rough gravel roads into a moon-like landscape – absolutely barren at a present altitude of 4000 metres.

Moonscape on the Pamir Highway, just after border / タジキスタン国境付近

The day began with cold but fair weather, but just as I was about to pack my tent away, wet snow began to fall. I dithered for too long as to whether I should wait for the snow to stop, or just continue packing my things away and get going. In the end I decided to go for it, and by the time I had donned my wet weather gear and packed away a now very wet and slushy tent, the snow had stopped.

Fearing that it might snow again, I kept all my warm clothing on as I started to pedal. Of course in no time I was overheating, so the morning consisted of frustrating stops and starts as I tried to figure out a good balance of layering for warmth while pedalling. The dodgy weather lasted all day, with dark clouds always only a few kilometers away.

At around 1pm I arrived at the Kyrgyzstan customs and immigration post, this still being about 15km from the actual border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (seeing that the actual border is at 4280m, you can understand why).

The Kyrgyzstan customs and immigration people are in a word, corrupt. After he had a quick look through my bags, the customs guy said in good English with gold front teeth glistening, “So, Robert. Do you have a present for me? If present, immigration is very easy. Open gates for you!”

“No, no present, I’m afraid” I replied.

He let me go, but warned me that immigration might be tough. I said I would risk it.

I wheeled my bike over to the immigration building, and instantly had six or seven border guards jostling to have a go on it while I went inside with the immigration officer, a large man with thick glasses and of course the compulsory gold front teeth.

Immigration was easy. The officer took my passport and wrote down my details in the register. Then in Russian, “OK, Robert, $5 please.”

I don’t speak Russian, but I made clear that I wanted to know what the $5 was for. The officer indicated it was for the registry entry. I thought that this was very odd, considering I had never been asked for money at any other immigration post before.

I tried to inidicate that I wanted to see the official written rule that tourists must pay $5 for registry entry. Either he didn’t understand, or chose not to, but he just insisted that the $5 must be paid. Still not convinced, I gave him a $5 note anyway. As I was walking out the door, I saw him put it into his pocket.

Um, that is not where money paid to a goverment instituion usually goes, buddy. “Niet good, niet good” I said.

We walked back into the registry office, and the officer asked what the problem was. I asked why the money was going into his pocket, and that I would like the money back. Perhaps he thought I was going to snark on him, because he gave me the money back, and said “Durug, yes?” Head tilted back to see through the glasses that had slid down his nose. I think durug means friend.

He wasn’t giving up though. He explained that if I give him the $5, then he could call the Tajikistan immigration and ask that I am let through without any hassles.

I said I would risk it.

No man's land between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan / キルギスでもない、タジキスタンでもない。そういうところにある道はこのようになるものです。

Tajikistan at last / 念願のタジキスタン

Tajikistan immigration was a no-brainer. The immigration officer was more interested in whether I had any New Zealand coins on me. He is a coin collector you see. He has coins from 119 countries. Africa is the most difficult to get coins from, apparently.

So here I am, well and truely in Tajikistan on the Pamir Plateau. The silence is what amazes me. So silent.

Campsite at 4100m, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan / 標高4100mの野宿(タジキスタン、パミール高原)

Day 67 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: Oh boy, it’s getting serious – just past Kichi-Karakol to just past Sari-Tash (English Summary)

English Summary: I must admit, I freaked out when I saw those mountains. A massive wall of cold, dark mountains, and my road going straight into them. I had to ask myself, ‘am I ready for this?’ This is no longer your Sunday avo bike ride. There are a few well stocked stores in Sari-Tash. I was able to buy instant noodles, eggs, sardines etc.

ええと~

その山々を見てくださいよ。

Those mountains were a shock - I was headed straight for them - Sari Tash, Kyrgyzstan / 山の壁(キルギス,サリタシュ村)

その中に入っていくわけですよ。

ちょっと真剣になってきたかも。こりゃ日曜日のちょっとした「そこまでこいでみよう」のような自転車ツーリングではなくなってきました。真剣に怖くなってなってきました。

サリタシュへ下っていく峠を越えて、サリタシュに入ったとたんに思ったことです。真正面に山の壁がずら~っと伸びていました。寒そうな、怒っているような山々。「あなたが僕らを入ろうとしたら、おまえを殺してやる」と。そう伝えている。その山たちが。

サリタシュまでに関しては、大きな峠がありました。標高3615mの峠でした。とにかく風が強くて、細かい砂があらゆる方向飛んでいました。峠の頂上までの最後の2kmの道路の路面はセメント(コンクリートの材料として用いる細かい砂)のような細かい砂でできていて、その砂にちょっとした風でも吹いていたら先が見えなくなるほど周りが真っ白になっていました。

3615m high pass before Sari-Tash, Kyrgyzstan / サリタシュ村に行く道(キルギス、3615mの峠)

そして峠を越えた!と思ったら、まだあとひとつの小さな峠がありました。今日もなかなかハードな一日でした。

Even the sealed bits had ruts! On the way to Sari-Tash, Kyrgyzstan / 一応舗装しているが。(キルギス、サリタシュ村へ向かう途中)

サリタシュでちゃんとした買い物ができます。お店(ロシア語で「マガジン」といいます)がいくつかあって、僕はコンロ用の燃料(ガソリン)、インスタントラーメン、卵、トマト、パスタ、缶詰魚などを買いました。

Day 66 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: From just past Gulcho to just past Kichi-Karakol

Distance / 距離: 68.91km
Time / 時間: 6h 32m
Average speed / 平均速度: 10.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 3070.3km

Tough day. The tail wind that I had enjoyed yesterday had turned on me and was for most of the day a headwind. Without mention is the fact that it was all uphill today also. This road is heading up up up into the highlands of Tajikistan…

Contrasts near Kichi-Karakol, Kyrgyzstan / 対象する景色(キチカラコル村付近、キルギス)

 

To my surprise there were three cafe places along this stretch of road. All of which were in the middle of no where. Certainly not in tows. The first I stopped at and had some colourless but tasty enough permenyi (mutton wrapped in pasta). The second place I gave a miss, and the third I bought some bread. My guess is that these places make their money from the regular truck traffic along this road. Most of the trucks seem to be coming from China loaded with bales of cotton of all things.

There were some small villages along this stretch, but I wouldn’t count on finding any stores to buy food.

I’ve had a real mix of experiences with the locals today. Kids are a delight but a little annoying when they run along behind you and hang onto your bike. This means you’re dragging them up the hill too! At the third cafe a couple of drunks were having goes trying to ride my bike while I bought my bread. They started getting agro when I refused to let them continue playing on the bike when I needed to leave. I got really close to yelling at them. After their friend dragged them off into their car, I noticed that my map and a water bottle were missing (always attached to a pannier).

I was 98% sure that the drunks had taken off with them, but gave them the benefit of the doubt, figuring that they may have fallen off the bike on one of the short downhills further back. This did not stop me from getting more and more upset that they would steal my map! In the end, to my immense relief the map (in a map case) and bottle were on the road about 3km back.

The best experience of the Kyrgyz people has been left to last it seems, however. My image that I had built up regarding Kyrgyz people was ‘look, a foreigner – let’s see how much money we can make off him!’

This image was broken down this evening when two local lads (I’m thinking twins, since they were brothers but the same age – they were 20) discovered my tent and promptly set about spending the entire evening with me. They spoke no English, I spoke no Russian or Kyrgyz. No problem. We managed to have a conversation over dinner (my rolled oats, potato, tomato, egg, onion, cheese and carrot stew), them sitting around the entrance of the tent where I sat.

Friendly Kyrgyz lads, near Kichi-Karakol, Kyrgyzstan / フレンドリーな青年たち(キルギズ、キチカラコル村付近)

 

While I was preparing the stew, one o the brothers, Jilkalbek, said “You’re going to need some more potatoes! And how about some eggs?”

I explained that I would love to have some more potatoes and some eggs would be great. How much do you want for them?

Jilkabek would hear nothing of it. It was his gift for me. He sent his brother Ulanbek off to their house (apparently just over the hill) to get them, and sure enough he came back half an hour later with about 2kg of potatoes, several onions, three eggs, and to top it off, 1.5 litres of freshly milked cow’s milk (like, it was still warm).

I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Thank you seemed pathetic.

Friendly Kyrgyz lads, near Kichi-Karakol, Kyrgyzstan / フレンドリーな青年たち(キルギズ、キチカラコル村付近)

 

It was pitch black by the time Jilkalbek and Ulanbek left to go home (about 8:30pm). I offered to light the way with my torch, but they said they knew the way. I suppose when you live in what I consider to be wilderness, you get to know your way around…

Day 65 – PAMIR HIGHWAY: Osh to just after Gulcho (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 87.02km
Time / 時間: 5h 35m
Average speed / 平均速度: 15.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 3000.7km

English Summary: Yeah, I reckon I done good today. Wasn’t totally sure if I could get over the pass (Chirchik Pass – 2408m) in one day, but I kept the pressure on all day and it is done. Heard from two British motorcyclists that there were two cyclists 35kms behind me in a hurry to make it over to China before the border closes for ten days. Apparently they have three days. That’s tough Possible to buy some food in Gulcho. I bought bread and sardines..

「パミール高原」の初日です。英語では「Pamir Highway」です。この道はキルギスのオシュ市からタジキスタンの首都のドゥシャンベ市まで続く。「世界の屋根」と呼ばれる、この道は世界中でももっとも離れている地域のひとつを通る道です。ここからどんどん車も人も通らないところへ入り込みます。

The local ladies, on the way to Jalalabat, Kyrgyzstan / 街角に座る女性たち(ジャララバッド町付近、キルギス)

しかし現実へ戻りますと、今のところ中国からキルギスへ入ってきているトラックが次々とこの道を通っています。確かに僕が目指しているサリタシュ町(Sari-Tash)から東へ向かうと中国へ行く道があります。僕はその道ではなくて、南に行く、タジキスタンへつなぐ道を通る予定です。

しかし今日はなかなかよく自転車を乗りました。予定の40kmではなくて81kmができて、絶対に一日で越えれないと思った峠を立派に越えて、今は木の下に座ってこのレポートを書いています。今夜もテントなしで寝るつもりです。雨は本当にめったに降らないような地域です。朝は冷えるけど、大した寒さではないので、テントを張る面どくさよりはましです。

Lunch break at a check point - about 20km from Osh on the Pamir Highway (Kyrgyzstan) / お昼です(オシュ市を出て20km時点にある軍隊チェックポイント)

ところで、今日はたった2回目、自転車を運転中に外国人と出逢いました。今回はイギリス人の2人で、バイクに乗っていました。そしてなんと僕と同じくタジキスタンのパミール高原を目指していると。そして彼らによると、僕の35km後ろに2人のサイクリストがいると。その2人はタジキスタンではなくて中国へ目指していると。しかも、中国・キルギスの国境はあと3日で閉じるらしい。その2人は急がないとやばい・・・

Now that is the sign we like to see! (1100m drop from Chirchik Pass, Kyrgyzstan) / ロバートが大好きな下り坂。今回は1100mをくだった(チルチック峠、キルギス)

明日はサリタシュ町まで行けといいですけど、一日で100km近くと標高3615mの峠はちっと無理かも・・・

グルチョ村で簡単な食料は購入可能

Three grand, just outside of Gulcho, Kyrgyzstan / 3000km達成(グルチョ町、キルギス)

Day 64 – In Osh

Ugh. Slow internet. Internet that doesn’t work…

But finally I have found an internet cafe with decent internet. Once again, the photos are uploades, but I don’t have the time to put them into posts. But do check them out in the Photo Gallery section.

Right then, tomorrow I head for Tajikistan. At least 3000m altitude gain, 220km to cover. I have 5 days left on my Kyrgyz visa. It will be a mission, but it will be done. I doubt my ability to be able to do any updates for up to 15 days as I cycle the Pamir Highway from Osh (Kyrgyzstan) to Dushanbe (Tajikistan). But you can be assured that there will be some major adventure to read about once I do get to Dushanbe.

By the way, thank you all for your great encouraging comments on the site. They are really appreciated, and I am torn up not to be able to answer to all of them. I am looking forward to getting to Uzbekistan, where I can take it a little easier and spend more time on the website. At the moment, the highlands of Tajikistan (altitude 4000m plus) are on my mind and with cold weather approaching, it makes me all the more keen to get through the big mountains as soon as possible!

If you need something to mull over while I hoof it over ‘the roof of the world’, then take a look at this post and let me know if you know the answer.

Till my next post…

Day 63 – From Jalalabat to Osh (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 119.51km
Time / 時間: 7h 20m
Average speed / 平均速度: 16.3km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2914.2km

English summary: Feeling the pressure of my Kyrgyz visa end date (in 6 days time) I pushed for Osh and actully made it. Stoked.

かなり急いでいます。タジキスタンのビザ期間は5日間前に始まりました。キルギスにいてOKな期間はあとわずか6日間。しかし一応今日の目的は達成できました。長い一日でしたが、オシュに到着できました。

Drying sunflower seeds on the roadside, on the day to Jalalbat, Kyrgyzstan / ひまわりの種を乾燥させるキルギス人(ジャララバッド町付近)

Day 62 – From the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass to just before Jalalabat

Distance / 距離: 102.59km
Time / 時間: 6h 53m
Average speed / 平均速度: 14.9km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2794.7km

Once again amazed at the strength of this bicycle. Absolutely bombing it down the pass at between 30 to 40 km/h, hitting some fairly chunky rocks, and not a scratch…the suspension really comes into play in these situations. There have been many times on the trip so far that I am certain I would have bent a rim or broken a spoke if it had not been for the suspension. Also, even though the bike has abou 35kg of gear strapped to it, you’d never know it. It is extremely nimble, and the disc brakes are a real bonus too – you stop when you want to stop.

What is that creature? Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan / なにものだ?!(カルダマ峠、キルギス)

As for surroundings, I feel as though I have dropped into another country all together. Lush valleys with apple trees, walnut trees, and then wide valleys with sunflower plantations.

Shed under tree in valley after Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan / 木の下の小谷(カルダマ峠のあと、キルギス)

Day 61 – From just past Kazarman to the foot of Kaldama Ashuu Pass (Englis Summary)

Distance / 距離: 34.31km
Time / 時間: 3h 45m
Average speed / 平均速度: 9.1km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2692.1km

English Summary: Stopped early at a good campsite at the foot of the zig zags. But more importantly, time for you mathematicians to put your thinking caps on. The question of the day is, can you work out the gradient of a road using the variables ‘velocity’ and ‘altitude gain’. Example: I am cycling at a speed of 5km/h, and I am gaining altitude at a speed of 8 metres per minute. What is the gradient of the road I am on? I thought it had something to do with the amount of fies buzzing around my head divided by pie….mmmmm, pie…

登る、登る!峠まであと700mのところにテントを午後4時に張りました。まだまだ乗る時間がありましたが、登る途中にテントの場所があるかどうかわかりませんでした。となりの農民によると狼がたまにいるから食べられるかもしれませんよ!

The local lads, near Dodomol, Kyrgyzstan

Foot of Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan

More local Kyrgyz blokes that insisted that their photo be taken - Kaldama Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Day 60 – Dodomol to just past Kazarman

Distance / 距離: 76.80km
Time / 時間: 6h 01m
Average speed / 平均速度: 12.7km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 2657.8km

My hopes for a nice long dowhill to Kazarman were dashed with a big fat pass in the middle. This did give me reason however to continue to marvel at the incredible piece of engineering that is this bike that I am riding on. The roads here are appalling. Very rocky, very bumpy. However, no matter how hard I ride the bike down these steep steep passes, the bike just laps it up. I am quite convinced that it is most entirely indestructable…

Meeting the Naryn River again - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

A Kyrgyz bloke trying the recumbent - Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

I sleep with no tent tonight. Just because.

Sleeping out near Ak-Tay, Kyrgyzstan