Getting sick again
Fan Mountains Travel Blog› entry 373 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
Our second excursion to the Fan Mountains had been unplanned, but I'd enjoyed the first one so much that i just had to return! This time we caught a minivan from Penjikent to the village of Artush and it has to be one of the most cramped rides that I've ever experienced. When we left the bazaar, i was already sat on a stool in the aisle of the van and figured that this makeshift seating was the final spot available. During our three and a half hour journey, we must have stopped for at least another dozen people, as the driver decided that the passengers could perform their own version of the Chinese circus trick of fitting countless bodies into a mini.
It was a real relief when we finally made it to Artush and we could stretch our legs in the grand scenery and exercise our lungs in the pure air. The villagers offered us a warm welcome as we walked down the street and children would stop whatever they were doing to wave and shout hello. A jeep track led into the mountains and we followed this for about an hour uphill, before a kind old man invited us into his house.
The day was coming to an end, so we didn't stop for too long, just long enough to consume some naan bread, watermelon, yogurt and tea. The friendly old bloke chatted away to Julia, telling us about his family and when he had visited Russia.
The last hour to the Alplager was filled with chatter of what a genuinely nice person the man had been and it really filled me with happiness to have met him.
We sat in the garden where youngsters on a holiday camp were running around and playing with two incredibly cute dogs. Once we took the Yahtzee out for a quick game, we were immediately surrounded by the kids, who all wanted to watch and figure out what the rules were. At 20.00 we had Dinner, which was soup, salad, bread and tea (10 Somani / $2.90) and then retired to the room for an early night.
On Tuesday morning i woke up feeling a little stiff, as though i had the start of a virus. Normally a good walk sweats these things out of me, so i decided to just grin and bear it and try to push through it.
The walk up began steadily enough, as we crossed over a small stream several times, passed a few farmers with their donkeys and after an hour finally reached the foot of a rather imposing mountain. Once we started to ascend, i had to stop every so often and wait for Julia to catch up, as she was struggling with the heat, altitude and slippery path. The trail was also not very clearly marked and Julia ended up taking a different path from me, which led to the two of us getting split up. I spent a very frantic 20 minutes running around the mountain trying to find her again and when i eventually did, i felt physically and mentally shattered.
At this stage i was beginning to contemplate giving up and going back to the Alplager, as i was feeling a wreck, but the stubborn side within me dictated that i continue. Once we reached the top of the mountain, i had foolishly hoped that we may be there, but we were in fact still another 90 minutes away. I had to stop for increased periods and at more regular intervals and i was beginning to feel really unwell, but stupidly on we went.
When we finally got the first sighting of the lakes, i found the closest bush and instantly lay down under it in the shade and passed out. Soon after i began to get cold shivers and headaches, even though it was really hot and i had to lay out in the sun to warm up. In total i spent over ninety minutes trying to sleep, before it came time to be making a move.
Once we got back to the alplager, i went straight to our room and went to bed. There was no still water in the shop, which had been a common problem throughout Tajikistan, so i was left trying to rehydrate with sparkling water and coke, which was obviously far from ideal. I managed to wake up for a light Dinner before going to bed really early.
The next day was Julia's 24th birthday and sadly i was in no state to celebrate it with her. I spent the day in bed with a headache and hot and cold sweats, trying to sleep as much as possible.
The owners of the alplager new that i was sick and also that it was Julia's birthday and had told us that as it was also the children's last night at camp, so they would be having a big farewell Dinner, so in turn we would also get well fed. At 18.00 Julia reminded them not to forget us and again at 19.00 and 20.00 she went down to the kitchen to make sure they saved us some food.
At 21.15 there was finally a knock on our door and the chef was stood there with two sorry looking bowls of soup.
Julia had told the alplager co-coordinator the previous day that we needed to try and get down to Penjikent as our visas were expiring. It was therefore quite annoying when we went to leave on Thursday morning to hear him say that he would have tried to arrange a lift for us if he knew we were leaving, as all the kids had been taken back to Penjikent by car that morning.
The walk down took a little over 90 minutes and once we reached Artush we had to wait for the bus to arrive. Luckily we got a seat on it and it was a normal bus this time. Although it was incredibly crowded, all the passengers just sat normally and made the people getting on stand, which suited me fine as i was feeling horrible. It brought to an end a disappointing second stay in the Fan Mountains, but i believe that this was mainly attributed to my poor health.