I woke up in my dim unlit room in Murghab, went to the window and pulled back the curtains. White light blinded me. I blinked and rubbed my eyes and pressed my face to the window and watched my breath steam up the glass. Beyond, snow was falling gently and the world outside was all white…
Today will be a good day to rest, I thought.
I crawled back into bed, under the warmth of the blankets, pulled my woolly hat over my ears and opened my book…
The following day, the sun and blue skies had returned and so had the mountains on the far side of the valley, now dusted with snow. But the road was clear and it wasn’t so cold. Back on the bike.
Just one final pass, a gentle climb, easy riding. Still chilly.
I met 2 cyclist couples coming the other way at the end of the day. The Polish couple had come from the Wakhan valley – It took us 5 days from Langar! The girl exclaimed. The road is terrible, and so much sand! Oh gosh, I said. And wondered if it really was that hard or whether she liked to exaggerate or simply cycle slowly. I expected it to take me a day and half. I only had food for 4 days (although I knew I could make it stretch to a few more). But I’ve got it easy. From here it would be all downhill to Khorog.
Well, I’ve no idea what that Polish lady was on about. Sure, there was one little stretch of gravelly sand that was hard cycling through. But I could cycle. And I thought back to all the kilometres and hours I spent dragging my bike through real sand in Africa. Now that was hard. This was kinda no problem and not-easy-not-hard-nothing-special-just-keep-going-and-a-tad-boring-even. It wasn’t even that cold… until the sun went down.
Then it was freezing. And I didn’t fancy a cold night at the top of the pass. So I figured I ride on down to Khargush. Might even find a place to stay.
Hah! It was a military control point. That’s all. But there were old farm buildings and the military guy checked with the local shepherd if I could pitch my tent in an open shed. Sure.
So, sheltered from the wind, and off the high pass, it was a pleasant evening once my hands and feet warmed up from the race off the mountain, crazy fast free-wheeling over the bumpy ground, back wheel slipping and sliding in the gravel. That was fun! A little reckless.
The shepherd and his older friend came over and we boiled water on my stove and sat on the floor drinking tea and they shared their bread and meat with me and I gave them some biscuits. It was not really enough for a hungry cyclist, but it seemed rude if I had then cooked up some noodles for myself. So I just went hungry.
Next day’s ride followed the Pamir River that borders Afghanistan. A beautiful ride and sunny skies. Met the shepherd again and he offered more tea…
And it ended in Langar where the Pamir river meets the Wakhan river to form the Panj. And the trees were all aglow – green and red and golden with autumn.
And here are the pics:
It’s now 5 months since I started the Take On Asia trip. I can hardly believe it! That means it’s also 5 months since I published Desert Snow – One Girl’s Take On Africa By Bike. So far I’ve had only good reviews and feedback on it – so thank you – I’m so pleased you enjoyed it, relieved too! If you’ve not read it yet, why not grab a signed copy now… If you have read it, did you realise about the online photos linked to the chapters? (There’s a link in the book, but not everyone noticed I think).
Also, don’t forget, if you want a calendar, order it now – tomorrow is the last chance before I get them printed.
More photos of the Pamirs to come soon…