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Archive for August, 2009

31 Aug, 2009

Sold!

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next morning we were awakened around 8:00AM by Valler’s nephew banging on the door. It was time to pick up the car. The truck was waiting outside, so we hopped into Valler’s car and drove off with the truck to the mechanic’s place. Surprise surprise, it was the same guy that we went to a few days earlier, the guy who had ripped us off. He took a look at the damage and offered to fix it for $200. I said that wasn’t going to happen. Valler’s brother reiterated that they would like to buy it. I talked it over with Collin, and considering the damage, we didn’t think it was prudent to continue on with the car in the state it was in, even if we got it fixed. While it was on the truck bed we looked at the underside of the car and the damage was extensive–there were many things we had never even noticed before. Add to that the steering, rust, engine overheating, gas leak, destroyed catalytic converter, and other miscellaneous problems and it was time to retire Buster to pasture. They had a deal. Valler’s brother handed us $300 and said that he would have the other $700 that afternoon. After we got all of our possessions out and into Imomdad’s father’s car we let it go with Valler’s family.

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30 Aug, 2009

The Rescue

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It took another hour or so before we got back to Khorog. Along the way Valler stopped at a few small villages where he saw some flatbed trucks parked, but we couldn’t find anything available. Valler had said earlier that he was working on opening a hotel and restaurant in the city, and that’s where he took us. Walking in it was clear that there was still quite a bit of construction to be done, but it looked like it was turning into a nice place. He said we could rest there for a bit and gave me the keys before taking off.

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29 Aug, 2009

The Death

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We were stuck in the mountains, almost 10,000ft up, and it was getting dark. We had to get out of there or face a freezing night in the car. Changing from our shorts into warmer clothing, we tried flagging down the first vehicle that passed to no avail. The second vehicle did stop–we were very lucky. We explained our situation and he offered to tow us to the next town. Collin got in the guy’s car–I got our tow rope out and took our first shot at towed. Due to the bumpiness of the road it came undone pretty quickly. We tried again. Same thing. We took out our other tow rope, which had a clamp on it, and attached it to the first one. That too fel off. We tried tying them together, and it seemed to be working. The guy was driving pretty fast, and controlling the car with minimal steering capabilities was tough. After going just a few miles over extremely bad roads the wheel starting making even louder noises and our steering went kaput. I honked the horn nd signaled to stop. We couldn’t do this anymore–it was destroying the car. The wheel was basically being dragged against the car and had lost a fair amount of its tread in the process. It would be in even worse shape if we tried to continue.

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28 Aug, 2009

The Pamir Highway

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

M41, or the Pamir Highway, is the highest elevation roadway in the world. Winding through the Western Himalayan range from Southern Tajikistan to Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the road takes one through some of the highest elevation passes traversible by vehicle (4,655m/13,965ft). This was one of the things we had been waiting to do the entire trip.

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27 Aug, 2009

Khorog

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Nestled between the mountains of Tajikistan and Afghanistan and bordered by the Gunt River, Khorog is the capital of the GBAO (Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast) region of Tajikistan. As the location of the Aga Khan Central Asia University it is home to one of the most educated, English-capable populations in all of Central Asia.

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26 Aug, 2009

To Khorog

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We had slept three to a room on futon mattresses while numerous flies, moths, and other insects buzzed around us the entire night. Again, we didn’t such a restful sleep. We stocked up on water (only gassy water available here–seems people don’t usually drink bottled water if it isn’t carbonated) and headed out towards Khorog.

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25 Aug, 2009

Pictures!

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Hello all! I am slowly but surely uploading all of the pictures from Odessa onwards. Expect for everything to be up-to-date within the next day or so (hopefully).

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25 Aug, 2009

To Khalaikum

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next morning we awoke early and set off towards the east. We traveled through ever increasing heights, as we entered the western reaches of what is technically the Himalayan mountain range. Our goal was to reach the city of Khalaikum by nightfall, and then continue on from there to Khorog the next day.

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23 Aug, 2009

Dushanbe

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Unlike many of the cities we had visited, Dushanbe was relatively new with little real history to speak of. Because of this there really wasn’t much to see or do there. Our plan was to stay one night to recouperate and then head off to the Pamir range the next day. The only problem was that we had found out that we needed a special GBAO (Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Oblast–a.k.a. Pamir Region) permit to travel there. As I had had little internet access as of late it had been difficult for me to secure this pass–our only hope was to grab one in Dushanbe, or be faced with traveling back along to route we had just came.

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22 Aug, 2009

Tajikistan: Day Two

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We got a few restless hours of sleep in the car during that night. It got pretty chilly, with temperatures hovering around freezing, so we were pretty cold in the car wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Both of us were awakened multiple times during the night by passing vehicles, people, and of course, the cold. I eventually ended up throwing some clothing on top of me, a travel towel over my legs, and putting my fleece jacket on. Collin went in the trunk to get his sleeping bag out.

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21 Aug, 2009

Tajikistan: Day One

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Besides taking a couple wrong turns we had little problem getting to the Tajikistan border. The greatest thing was actually the border itself–everyone was so friendly! After our not-so-great experiences of the past we never knew what to expect when crossing into another country, but we were pleasantly surprised by this border. Everyone was interested in what we were doing and chatted with us as they expeditiously handled our paperwork. We were into the country within an hour or so.

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20 Aug, 2009

Samarkand

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It was about a five hour journey from Bukhara to Samarkand, and we passed through many villages on the way. As always, we were stared at by everyone we passed and enjoyed a fair bit of waves and friendly shouts from the locals. We were planning on getting into the city before nightfall so that we could find out way around a bit easier, but that was not to be so. We circled around for a bit trying to find a B&B recommended to us by Charlotte. We couldn’t find it, so I decided to park the car and get out to walk around the city a bit and see what we could find.

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19 Aug, 2009

Bukhara

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The next morning we all parted ways and struck out for the walled merchant city of Khiva. We drove along the main road looking for an off-shoot heading south towards the city but were unable to find what we were looking for. After asking multiple people we were still not sure where the road was and we decided to just skip it and head on towards Bukhara. This involved a multi-hour drive through a wide Kyzylkum desert that separates eastern and western Uzbekistan. It was quite hot out, and we were thoroughly soaked in sweat and covered in sand by the times we reached the city limits.

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18 Aug, 2009

Western Uzbekistan

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

We entered the country and were bombarded by children selling water and ladies in veils offering to exchange money. Everyone was hanging off of our car and assaulting both Collin and I from every side. We were vigilant against would-be thieves and exchanged $100 with one of the ladies for almost 200,000 Uzbekistani som. Because of inflation the highest denomination bill is 1000 som, so we were left with a huge brick of cash to carry around.

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17 Aug, 2009

The Uzbek Border

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

It didn’t take long to reach the Uzbek border the next day. All of us arrived and started the six-part registration process with no problem (other than in the middle of our applications the border guards having taken a two-hour lunch break). We had been there for over five hours and I had just finished the car import paperwork when I saw Collin standing outside of the border zone. I motioned for him to come over to complete the visa-stamping process but he motioned for me to come to him. He had just been rejected entry into Uzbekistan.

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16 Aug, 2009

To Uzbekistan

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The other teams we had came with were heading across Kazakhstan eastward, so The Alchemists and us decided to team up on the way to the Uzbek border. The road leading out of the city and south towards Beyneu was amazing–newly paved, it was the best road we had seen since Germany. We made short work of the next few hundred kilometers, traveling at around 80MPH the whole way and passing Dossor and Qulsary. We were hoping for these roads to last, but once we got to Opornyy our good times ended. Back to the pot-holed, sand and gravel roads that we had dealt with when entering the country–in worse condition this time. We stopped to fill up our car and checked the oil. The 80MPH driving in the heat had caused us to burn about two pints of oil which we promptly replaced. We had also had enough of our roof rack. It had sat empty for a while, and we could now fit everything inside of the car quite easily, so why have the extra drag on the car? (It also dripped into the car whenever it rained since the straps went through the rubber lining on the doors.) We took it off and gave it to a passing Kazakh family that seemed interested in it. They’ll ut it to good use I’m sure.

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    In the summer of 2009, two guys from Metro Detroit are traveling 10,000 miles from London to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in an effort to raise money to assist underprivileged Mongolian families in becoming self-sufficient.

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