Day 97: The end of the world as we know it
Murgab Travel Blog› entry 135 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Tim & Wim (Belgium)
We drove back to Bulunkul to have breakfast at the homestay where we had had lunch last night. They had arranged for 40 litres of Diesel for us as well. No idea where they got it from, as they were selling it for less than the price at the petrol station in Khorog. Judging from the black and blue smoke belching from the exhaust it probably had very little diesel content and was mostly salad oil or worse. It didn't matter, it kept the engine running, albeit with even less power than before.
With plenty of time to get us to the town of Murghab, we took the long route back to the M41.
The road was fine though, at least, at first. Crossing the Alichor plain the road was straight and flat and despite being unpaved, the ground was so hard that we had a smoother ride than we had had on most of the other roads in Tajikistan.
We passed a very small and uninspiring geyser field. It was listed on our map as a tourist attraction, but that was stretching it a bit. Still, it was fun driving here. For a while at least.
After the geyser field the road deteriorated badly. Although this is called the Alichor plain, they could better have called it the Alichor hills.
It had been fun, but still the three of us let out a cheer as we reached the tarred road. Ah, the fabled Pamir Highway. Finally! For the last 100km to Murghab we would be driving on this smooth black ribbon of tarmac. No more washouts, no more pot holes, no more ditches.
Ironically, it was the Pamir Highway that nearly killed the car. While the road is smooth, it is not completely without damage. There is still the occasional pothole, most of which are easy enough to spot and avoid, but there are also bumps and ditches which are almost impossible to spot while driving. We hit one with over 70 km/h. It broke the metal plate protecting the radiator, but worse, the steering-bars had hit the tarmac full on.
Meanwhile the surroundings were absolutely stunning. Again. I think I have said this of every day over the past week, but it is true. Driving through Tajikistan is an absolute joy. Marco Polo might not have been too impressed with the Pamirs, calling his 10-day camel trek across the Pamir plains a hellish journey, but we loved every bit of it.
We arrived in Murghab towards the end of the afternoon. It was a bit of an anticlimax. Murghab is the second-largest city in the Gorno-Badakhstan region.
What made it seem even more depressing was because it was Sunday. Though people here are mostly Muslim Tajikistan (like the rest of Central Asia) has adopted the Soviet business week, so everything closes shop on Sunday, rather than the Islamic holy day of Friday.
So there wasn't much to do for us here. We checked in to a guest-house and spent the rest of the day just relaxing and blogging.
We were the only guests in the guest-house. The issues in Kyrgyzstan have hit this region hard as well.
Tonight Holland was playing the World Cup final and I was quite keen on seeing it. Unfortunately the whole town suffered from a power outage in the evening (as it does almost every evening) so we couldn't watch. A friend of mine sent me updates per SMS instead. Apparently I didn't miss that much though. It hadn't been a very good game and the Dutch lost.