Sunday, 31 August 2014

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: A Stormy Night in Pamir;Today: 76 km; Total: 295 km

May 10, 2014
As we were packing up in the morning, we were sweating from the heat. We biked for 20 km when we got to Kulyab. It was very much like an Afghan town you might see in the movies. Such a dirt and chaos, no presence of driving rules, cars parked wherever, lots of honking, a lot of vendors in every corner, etc.

We needed to change $100, so we went to a "bank". The policeman at the entrance asked us what we wanted and when we told him, he called someone out on the street and asked us to give him the money so he could exchange! By then, some people had gathered around us, so we didn't want the people to see or know that we were changing money; $100 is a lot of money here. We told the guy we would be back later and went to a corner to take out $100 from our bag. We didn't want them to see where we hide our money. We went behind the bank to do so. And when we had our $100 in our pocket, the guy showed up from the back door of the bank and asked us to do the exchange. I  knew the exchange rate so I asked about the guy's rate. His rate was the same, so we did the exchange and took off. On our way, we bought 6 boiled eggs from a vendor and had them outside the town.

We resumed our paddling in a very steep road. It was scorchingly hot. After an hour of cycling. We couldn't take the heat anymore. It was 12:30 in a village when we took a three-hour break. Three hours because it was impossible to bike in that heat. The villagers would pass by and just say hi. Apparently, it was a no brainer why we had stopped by a grave to seek refuge in the shade. After a couple of hours, a guy showed up and tried so hard to communicate with us. I was in no mood to show that I knew Tajik language, so I played dumb, but he had a big bottle of beer and had just started to chat. After three hours, some clouds blocked the sun, so we took off. We kept riding in a long steep road meandering up a mountain. At times, it was so difficult to be on the bike that I walked my bike--little did I know that I was over stretching my right calf. I realized it later at night when the pain started.

At about 5 pm, we saw a boy riding a bicycle with no front tire. I filmed him and asked him where we could find a shop. He showed us the only shop (magazine, as they called it) in the area. We walked our bike into a house and the "shop keeper" showed up with all her goods: a plastic bag full of biscuits, chips, etc., and three bottles of scented water, none of which we were interested in. I asked her if she had bread, vegetables, eggs, rice, spaghetti, milk, etc. we walked out with a kilo of rice, three onions, and a kilo of carrot.

According to the shop keeper, there was a spring on top of the mountain where we could spend the night. It was very difficult to reach the spring.  Finally at 7 pm we reached the spring when we did not have energy to even go 50 meters further.

We pitched up our tent, washed ourselves with two litters of water, and made dinner: rice, boiled carrot, onion, and the special source of energy by Kaveh. The sky was clear when we went to sleep, but ...

In the middle of night at about 2:30, I woke up to the worst thunderstorm only second to what I had seen in Italy. It was coming down like you wouldn't believe. We were rather close to a creak, so I was afraid the flood would get us.  I could hear the water in the creak getting louder and louder. I got up, put on my feather jacket and rain gear, got my money and passport--ready to scape. I took a look outside the tent. A lot of water was running around and under the tent. After two hours of non-stop storm, it quieted down and I could relax.

He Ran to Bring us Tea and Fresh Bread

Second Round of Tea with Fresh Bread

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: An Easy Ride; Today:119 km; Total: 204 km

May 9, 2014
I woke up at six to a somewhat foggy morning. I went to the edge of the hill and enjoyed the
picturesque scenery. Then I went back to sleep!
We left the camping spot at 9:30. At about noon, an old linesman waved us to stop and invited us for some tea. He was 65; to impress us, he did 10 push-ups on his three fingers! With tea, he offered us what he had--bread. There were some other guys too. They all were very funny.

The scenery got more and more beautiful. It rained a little bit. At about 5, we kept an eye open for a possible camping spot. After an hour of looking, frustratedly, we rode our bikes into a village and looked for a place. We finally found one. It was very hot then, and we both were sweating terribly. It was too bad that there was no water near our spot. We needed a wash very badly. When we were cooking, a guy showed up and said that he was the owner of the place. It didn't take us long to make friends with him and ask for some water to wash ourselves. After taking a shower with two litters of water, we had our super dinner (rice, potato, carrot, onion, tuna, and some kind of fortified fat that Kaveh had prepared for my trip).

The Police Officers Who Let us Camp behind their Starion
The View from our Camping Spot
This Little Guy Wants to Play
The View in the Morning

Friday, 29 August 2014

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Camping in the Clouds; today 85 km

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Camping in the Clouds; today 85 km

May 8, 2014

And finally, let the pedaling begin. We woke up at 5 in the morning and left the hostel at 6. Our bicycles were terribly loaded. In the city, there still was huge presence of the police. Every five meters, there was a cop standing guard. The Turkmenistan president has been visiting Dushanbe.

Very soon we started going up the mountains. We wanted to take it easy for the first day, but still with the load we both were carrying, even taking it easy was difficult. We passed through two tunnels and a beautiful lake where we stopped at a police station to see if we could get some water. It was 4 o'clock so we decided to camp behind the police station overlooking the lake.

After washing ourselves in the bathroom of the station, we made dinner with wild mushroom we bought from some locals and let our withered bodies rest.

The Start

Some Cheerful Kids
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