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Posts Tagged ‘tajikistan

03 Nov, 2009

The Bags Arrived!

Posted by: Scott In: Post-Rally

Believe it or not, the two packages that I laboriously sent back from Dushanbe, Tajikistan have finally made their way to my doorstep after nearly two months of being transported across the world by camel (I’m guessing). Now you get a chance to see the excellent workmanship that went into sewing these parcels together and then stamping them shut with wax seals.

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03 Sep, 2009

Dushanbe: Redeux

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

Ah yes, Hotel Dushanbe: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

That’s the way we felt, coming back to the same hotel in the same city that we had waited in for a few days the week before. We had a few priorities to take care of, the first being finding a way to get out of the country before our visas expired yet again in four days time. What we wanted to do was get a flight from Dushanbe to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, explore the northern part of the country, take a taxi from Bishkek to Almaty, Kazakhstan, explore that city, and then take a train across the country, into Russia, and then eventually reach a Siberian Express stop where we could take that train all the way to Irkutsk and then Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, our final destination. Unfortunately it was Friday and we weren’t expecting to be able to get much done during the weekend, especially as it was the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Time was of the essence.

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01 Sep, 2009

Back to Dushanbe

Posted by: Scott In: The Rally

The house phone rang at 5:20AM. Imomdad’s uncle was moving up the time yet again (it was originally 7:00AM)–we have fifteen minutes to pack everything, eat, and get ready. We jumped out of our futons and set about getting everything ready. We were still packing up by the time he arrived and had to skip breakfast in order to not keep the driver and other passengers waiting. Imomdad and his father helped get all of our bags outside to the driver so that he could put them in and on top of the vehicle. We said thanks and goodbye to Imomdad and his family and jumped in the vehicle, a Pajero 4X4, which was already occupied by a woman and her two daughters in the middle row of seats (along with the driver’s helper in the passenger seat). We got in the back but they could not put the seat back up because my legs stretched out too far. The woman and her children were kind enough to switch seats with us and we got in the middle row. We were thinking we’d be lucky and get the row to ourselves, but we stopped just a couple minutes outside of Imomdad’s house to pick up a young guy in his 20′s, who sat in our row. I got pushed into the middle. It was going to be a long ride.

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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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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

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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    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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