James and I left Muslim’s comfortable Rushan home without too much of a hurry but keen to get to Khorog, the ‘citadel’ capital to the Pamirs and the only town for hundreds of miles with a serious bazaar and proper shops. After a morning similar in scenery to the previous day, though far from repetitive, we knew we were getting close when we passed a strip of flat land placed precariously near the river and realised it was the generously dubbed – and not even fenced – Khorog airport.
We crossed the town to the Pamir Hostel, destination of choice for many foreign travellers, and quickly met a few fitting such a description. http://Theroamingcoconuts.com/ would be especially pleased by your visit to their well pruned blog! We could not resist a welcome beer and ice cream or two upon the riverside for dinner, having spent a fair amount of time heading to various shops which were all closed on Sunday… Weekdays fade very fast while touring!
We had planned just one rest day in Khorog, keen to get towards China as soon as possible, but with news from Alex that he should be ok to ride on Wedesday, we settled in for an extra night. I spent the first day bazaar shopping. For me, this is very simple: walk around the whole bazaar eating every item of food I can find which is different from the last, or irresistibly fresh. At street food prices, this does not even scratch the budget but treats me to such delights as Tajik hot dogs, plov, fresh cheese bread, pastries and eggs – who needs restaurants?!
I did have one purpose to my routing around which was to buy a big, warm puffer jacket. I had taken James’s as a material example, but even so the range of products I was shown was quite astonishing, fuelled by shop owners trying their hardest to sell me anything that may keep me warm. I did, in the end, find a suitable jacket and haggled until I could afford it before cycling back uphill with it on: it is warm!
The second day was spent in Internet cafés for James, downloading music to his new music player, while I headed to the mildly famous botanical gardens with other foreigners equally perplexed by the lack of entertainment in Khorog. The gardens were very pretty, stuffed full of apples, and surrounded by huge mountains in stark contrast to the beautiful Cambridge version. There was even one of the president’s holiday homes in the centre, though whether he ever comes here is unclear following the region’s resistance to his power in the recent civil war.
Some bike cleaning, ice cream eating and blogging later, I headed to bed to ready myself for the riding to come once Alex rejoined us.