20th June – Khorog – too little rest…
One day off really isn’t enough – particularly when the cycling is as demanding as it has been in Tajikistan so far. Everything you have been thinking on the saddle that you must do when the next break arrives get squashed into one rather hextic day, and you inevitably fail in ticking everything off your list. Today was no exception, as i walked around Khorog tirelessly looking for the elusive gas truck that would fill my stove. People sent me in all different directions, and many just looked at me blankly, confused as to why I had such a stove in the first place. After walking way out of town by reccomendation of a road worker, i gave up and sauntered back into Khorog dejectedly looking for suncream- the next item on my list.
Items on the list also included drinking beer and eating kebab, both of which were acheived easily but rather dissappointingly. The beer in Tajikistan is really no good – it comes in ig round plastic bottles that look like eggs and is flat and a bit sour. You can get Baltika, but its a bit expensive and of course not typically Tajik. The extra expense though was worth it, and we shared a few over some rather dismal kebab in an even more dismal restaurant not far from the hotel – the proprietor excitedly showed us his kitchen which consisted of a wooden block with rotting meat covered in flies and a cooking pot – we tried a bit and it seemed ok so we sat down to eat – the meat tasted like the animal was still in the farm – you could imagine its quarters and the smell of the hair on its back, as well as what it sat in all day-safe to say it was not a satisfying meal. The beer helped though.
Despite the food and the lack of gas Khorog was quite a charming place – the epic Pamir backdrop and the Gunt river valley made the walk around town quite enjoyable. Its only a small town, butfor Tajikistan its one of its most important hubs in the area – and the capital of The Gorno Badhakshan region. Trucks from China deposit their cargo here to smaller vehicles that can navigate the twisty road to Dushanbe, and it has an airport. The Khorog-ites walk around with a determined and busy nature as if they were city dwellers – fashions range from traditional to urban, which seemed quite bizarre for such a small town.
The real charm we found here though was at The Pamir Lodge, where we rested for two nights. Away from the town, this great hotel often plays home to adventure travellers, cyclists and overlanders who make a stop in khorog. We arrived to see four bikes locked up, two motocycles and a jeep that had driven from the UK. We shared some stories, drank tea, washed with rain water and got excited about the upcoming adventure into the Wakhan as we slept on the veranda for $5 a night.