Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Back in Khorog over the main highway, on a very slick asphalt but the wide valley is just a bit boring. We register our visa (22$ each, thank you) and immediately leave by taking the third road out of Khorog to Ishkashim all the way south, that marks the entrance to the magnificent Wakhan valley. We prefer to overnight in a village next to a hot spring and sanatorium, Garm-Chashma. We stop and ask a guy on the road for a place to sleep, and (not surprisingly) he immediately leads us to his place, a very nice house up the village. A very nice typical Pamir house with a well-crafted ceiling in the five-pillar room. He insists heavily on giving us some food, although it’s only early afternoon, and then leads us to the hot spring and to a mineral water spring. Somehow that was a bit suspicious, and we’ll find out later that he’s actually running a guest house, and asks us 17$ each for the stay, which is way overpriced (the usual price is around 6$ for a night and 2$ for a meal). But as we haven’t discussed it beforehand, we don’t argue and pay what he’s asking for.

We keep following the river (and therefore the Afghan border), which is now named Wakhan. Across the river is a narrow stretch of Afghan territory, that leads all the way to China, called the Wakhan corridor, designed by the British and Russians when they split up the region in the 19th century as a buffer between their respective empires. This means that Pakistan, where we eventually want to go, is a mere 15km away, but quite far indeed as one would have to cross the Hindu Kush range, with its 6000m and 7000m peaks. As a consequence also there is no direct border between Tajikistan and Pakistan.

After chatting on the way with schoolchildren (practicing their English) and farmers in the fields (fluent in Russian, but unfortunately it doesn’t help), we try to get some petrol, not knowing where we could then get some. So we buy what’s probably the most expensive petrol in the whole central Asia, at a bit more than 1 Euro per liter! Next day we stop over at another sanatorium next to another hot spring, Bibi Fatima, where I hope to cure my cold. Tough luck, this spring is supposed to improve woman fertility, so I’m not sure what is the effect is on us, except that my cold took another few days to get rid of.


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