Saturday, 23 July 2016

Onwards, with a Unfortunate Change of Route

As I wrote in my previous post...

We’ve been in Dushanbe for a week now and have successfully got our Uzbeki and Iranian visas.  They are relatively straightforward to get.  The Turkmen one on the other hand is notoriously time consuming, and even then, not guaranteed.  We’ve to go back to the embassy on Thursday (21st July) and it should be issued to us then but we aren’t holding our breath…we’ve heard plenty of horror stories and loads of people that have just give up on it and re route instead.   If we don't get it, our only option will be to fly over Turkmenistan, which we are not particularly keen to do!  Just thinking about boxing up the bikes for a flight gives me a headache, so fingers crossed we get the visa and we'll be back in the saddle on Friday!

....and yet here we are, still in Dushanbe, on Saturday.  

When we went to the embassy on Thursday, the man made a quick call to someone in Ashgabat to enquire about our visa status, hung up the phone and shook his head.  So that was that.  No Turkmenistan visa.  So we did the only thing we could, which was to book a flight from here to Tehran, which leaves tomorrow.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Pamir Highway (M41) and the Wakhan Valley

Where do you even begin to describe a place like the Pamirs?  The sights and sounds, the people, the experiences and the emotions…

It took us six days to cycle from Osh to Murgab, a distance of about 430km.  We reckoned it would take us another 8 days to cycle from Murgab to Khorog via the Wakhan Valley and then 6 more days from Khorog to Dushanbe.  It’s more common (a relative word!) to cycle in the opposite direction to the one we went in because the wind is more usually at your back and the gradient is slightly easier that way.  But, we’re travelling westwards, so we cycled the pamirs backwards!  Having done it, I now understand that the wind really is a game changer. We cycled into a very strong headwind almost immediately after leaving Murgab and we battled it more or less the whole way to Khorog, which in the end took us 9 long days.