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Old 01-08-2012, 02:16 AM   #1
Mara Loochezarny OP
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Mysteries of the Pamir

Things are all small, complicated and on the brink of survival,
in the Pamir, - just like on the fantasy planet described by Sent-Exupery.
And only Mountains are limitlessly grand here.


The idea to once more return to Pamir came to me after I left the region in my teenage years. Before that, we lived in the Murgab kishlak (Village) of Nagorny Badaqshan, the heart of Pamir (1987- 88-89). It’s been a long time, likewise has the many things, that curbed the implementation of my dream to meet Pamir again. I communicated the idea of the Pamir biking venture to friends that were with me on the Uzbekistan tour last year. The idea enjoyed unanimous approval and support.



In general, all was ready by the set start time, 15th of May – Acerbis boosted tank hooked to bike, as well as flip bags and GPS Garmin. Before that date, another person willing to visit Pamir joined us. Acquaintance on the Internet.) It was a certain Adri from Holland, who was going to take my newly bought Honda XR650L and conquer sky trails. The first Force Majeur happened just one month prior to take-off. Kyrgyz borders got sealed-off for indefinite time. We decided to run through Uzbekistan. I retailored the route and Adri promptly got new visas and retuned himself accordingly. The paramount thing was that the trip would happen. The second, and the SNEAKIEST nuisance, just one week prior to departure, was the collective refusal to go. One of my friends suddenly got head over hills exploited at work by his new boss, the second fell ill, the third just said “I won’t go”. It was only Adri, who was struggling his way through the masses of the Icelandic volcano ash to finally see what Central Asia was like.
Adri – earlier unknown friend from far.

One last luggage inspection – all got settled in a nice and tidy manner, like seen from Photo

I had plenty of room left. Keeping in mind personal knowledge of the hard life, the Pamir kids have to live, I decided to take some gifts – some toys. My wife helped me select things from the toy-deposits of our children. She chose toys in good shape (cars, soldiers, dolls and necklaces) and divided them in two lots – for girls and boys. Eventually, I had two more fat toy sacks. Now we can go!
I has a clear picture of what I wanted to acquire from the trip:
1. Main target – make it to Murgab, visit “old glory” sites related to my wonderful childhood there
2. Recon interesting tourist route for our motorcycle travel club SilkOffRoad (customs and frontier guards checkpoints, roads, tour operators, hotels, motels and others).
3. Visit Fan Mountains and, namely, in the Vertical-Allaudin International Mountaineering Camp, - the place that no wheel of the bike ever touched before. Leave our Logotype there.
4. Find the mountain cave nearby Murgab, where the mysterious light shines.
5. Visit Lake Rongkol.
6. Find a ruby like size a dino egg and become rich and prosperous)).
7. Find the meteorite crater in the Murgab vicinity – the one I found in Google Earth .
8. Give toys to Pamir’s children.
9. And, of course , have fun and make it back safe.

Start!!!

19 May. Almaty-Shymkent. 690 kilos.
Woke up at 6-00 and took off. Today’s section is the longest. So, we just drove like locomotives – without stops.

West Europe-West China new road construction is aggressively underway between Dzhambul and Chimkent southern town of Kazakhstan. long 8 445 km.


Kazakh police



Chimkent’s attractions - Noah's Ark





In café near the border.
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Mara Loochezarny screwed with this post 12-08-2012 at 05:33 AM
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:32 AM   #2
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Mysteries of the Pamir.

20 May. Chimkent-Jizzakh. 350 kilos
We made to Uzbek border by lunch and spent three hours clearing ourselves through border checks. This is a very tedious process. Staff don’t speak English. If you do not know Russian or local language, it may be a very long time. Uzbekistan met us with dull landscape, but fairly good roads, broad ones with concrete dividers and rare vehicles.

Street's exchange money. Black rate is more favorable.




We drove into Jizaq at night. Found ourselves a place to sleep and decided to go eat something. Somebody advised to visit Café Nafisa. There we tried to real Jizaq samsa. Spiced meat rolled into pastry and baked in special clay ovens. I heard about it back in Almaty. Its size is the first thing that makes it famous. Half an A-4 sheet size. Needless to try to describe its taste – I got no words to try, just saline. Adri bit one and saw the fat and said they did not eat fat back in Holland, for it was harmful and he was one of those who did not eat fat either. When he finished his first one, he did not say anything more about fat – he just ate it all. He had his mouth and palms burning but he ate it all. Each of us had three and we wanted some more but could not))

Jizzakh samsa.


21 May. Jizaq – Samarkand – Pejikent (Tajikistan) 170 kilos
We got Tajikistan waiting for us today. We woke up early and took off.

On the roads of Uzbekistan



Mountain pass before Samarkant. Three-car high altitude passenger train.



Road to Samarkand. Local sight – the Timur’s Gate, vandalism and may be graffiti.


Route ran though Samrakand for I wanted Adri to see its sights
Samarkand. Gur-Emir Mausoleum in the backgrounds.



We chose not to linger in Samarkand cause we wanted to make it to Tajikistan as soon as possible. We passed Uzbek checkpoint easily, people there did their jobs like robots – without a single word.
But I liked the Tajik post more. Its commander first treated us t some tea in his office and only then did they check our credentials. They helped us to promptly complete documents and wished us good luck.

Penjikent was nearby – just some 10 kilos away from border. Drastic change in landscape. Uzbek flatlands got changed by mountains who appeared suddenly.

Penjikent Town Gate


That day, the starts brought together under the roof of our guest house three Adri’s fellow countrymen on a 4WD, one Infantry German and an Indian. In the evening, we had a party. We treated all of the, to Vodka and had fun communicating. Interesting momentums from any trip – you get to meet people from other countries and tomorrow we all will bide our last Byes and we all are same people, moving towards some place just to see something new.

In Penjikent’s guesthouse.


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Mara Loochezarny screwed with this post 12-08-2012 at 05:59 AM
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mara Loochezarny View Post

Jizzakh samsa.


Hey privet Marat ... I never saw any Samsa that big :)

And great to see you made it back to Murgab!
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:59 AM   #4
Mara Loochezarny OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colebatch View Post
Hey privet Marat ... I never saw any Samsa that big :)

And great to see you made it back to Murgab!
Hi Walter!
may see such samsa in Jazzakh only. It's very big and testy!)
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:00 AM   #5
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thanks to all! more....
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:40 AM   #6
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Rongkol Lake



Was very strongly surprised to run ton camels there. They seemed to feel in the same way. Never saw them camels in this places. And weather all time varies.






I did not care much about Lake. I wanted to see that сave with a mysterious fire. I really saw it once. There is even a local legend about that fire.
Long time ago, a gold caravan was passing thru this country. Caravan merchants learned that robbers would attack them at night. They saw a cave with the entrance located on a high altitude. They decided to hide there. They killed camels and made some kind of an embankment from their dead bodies. They hid in the cave with their gold and wolves ate all dead camels. Robbers found out where the gold was but they could not make it upwards. They surrounded the cliff hoping the merchants would capitulate and give gold for water and food. Time passed and no answer from caravan. Angry, robbers killed their camels and ascended in the cave same way the caravan merchants did. Inside, they found no men and no gold. So, the fire began to light there since those events. Like waving to others to tell about what got left after the caravan.
IN some time, I found the cliff and of course saw the cave. Disappointment was there was no fire.

Fire Cave Cliff.


No fire inside the cave.


….and an alien space vessel))




Disappointed I decided to proceed to take a tour towards the border with China.

Rongkul Village.


Approaching Rongkul Village I noticed the coming of a sandstorm. Wind was growing stronger and the dust was penetrating thru helmet and goggles.




Видео http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=950DNCJLzX0

there was a frontier ranger station nearby. I asked them to host me. They did not refuse and immediately checked all credentials. Station Boss and his deputy took me to their office, verified me personality and gave hot tea. Young officers were doing their non-stop 3-year service time. Under the conditions of life similar to those on Mars, i.e. it is not clear if there any life there… or not… My mentality spoiled in urban communities does not succeed to comprehend such lifestyle. The latter actually has some benefits. Army men get paid some USD250 a month, with all high altitude bonuses included. That is a good salary for a young Tajik Lieutenant. Besides, one year of such service total three – thanks to Moutains.
The storm was fading and I had to go back to Murgab, before something else would happen. On the road back I looked at the cliff again and WOODSTOCK! I almost fell down from bike. Oh, Heavenly Happiness! I saw that fire. Or was it illusion? I promptly made several shots and checked them on the camera monitor just to make sure I did not have the high altitude tripping. This is not a hallucination. because twice in my life. I was happy! There was the fire.



Zoom managed to catch the fire



I chose to linger and took off. The weather was getting nasty again.


Back to Murgab.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:13 AM   #7
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Pamir





Wind was geeting stronger again. It was rising dust and little rocks. They were drumming on me helmet.


Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v09q0Up5mAY

When I reached Murgab the wind eased and weather got clear again



My school with the Mount Zerkalky (Mirrors) in the backgrounds. They call it Mirrors for its surface keeps to shine for a long time after dawn



I was to this school, I remember everything. It was hard in the winter. A small coal stove warmed poorly in classroom. Teachers allowed us to sit in winter clothes and gloved hands. In the winter when it's -30C on the street . Bad-quality diesel freeze in generator, and often no electricity. A lot of what was not. Vegetables and fruits - is a luxury. Only when the holidays. Despite this we have lived here is not bad. I think now level living here has become worse.

When kids see an alien they gladly shout Hello! Looks like they have gotten used to expatriates.



Murgab’s Central Street. Like all such streets, in the past it was called Lenin Street


And here is himself – the Eternal Grandfather Lenin.

In the evening I met with my classmates. He was pleased and invited me to his house for the night. I know that 100 grams of vodka is good for acclimatization to the altitude. We drank two bottles!)) I was worry "mountain sickness" visit me at night. However, I immersed myself in sweet memories of my childhood and I slept very well.

to be continued...
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Mara Loochezarny screwed with this post 12-09-2012 at 01:38 AM
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Mara Loochezarny View Post
I know that 100 grams of vodka is good for acclimatization to the altitude. We drank two bottles!)) I was worry "mountain sickness" visit me at night.
According to Russians, 100 grams of vodka is good for everything !

And after two bottles of it, it will be a different type of sickness visiting you in the night !
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:04 AM   #9
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Thanks Marat!

Great story and pics
I will ride in the area in June. When arriving in Almaty I will contact you for a beer

Safe rides,
Adrian
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:18 AM   #10
Mara Loochezarny OP
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Pamir

Quote:
Originally Posted by asilindean View Post
Thanks Marat!

Great story and pics
I will ride in the area in June. When arriving in Almaty I will contact you for a beer

Safe rides,
Adrian
Hi Adrian
I go to Pamir again in June 10, 2012, When you going to... conect with me.

Have a good trip!
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:13 AM   #11
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Splendid, simply splendid. What an incredible journey. Loved the pictures. I can only hope to someday have a similar adventure.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #12
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Travel

Great story

Hope to ride that area some day soon . Hope we can meet for a few wadkas and get ochen pianee

Cheers , Dan
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:48 AM   #13
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nice one bud!

It's good to get a bit of local info on the place. When my wife and I went through there we obviously did'nt speak the lingo and I think we missed alot. I was also suffering quite badly from altitude sickness induced by having to push my wife's bike up and down the street in karakol in full bike kit. we actually passed out in a valley just past Murghab and slept for 15 hours straight.

This is bringing back a lot of memories, keep going bud.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:22 AM   #14
Mara Loochezarny OP
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Pamir

28 May. Murgab. 200 km

Woke up surprisingly early and easily. Feared I would have acute mountain sickness that each fifth ascending traveler will regularly have, but I felt great. Today, I must look for meteorite crater and the ruby stone. For some reason, was sure I would that day)). Both targets were not that mystical, like the cave fire, but they required luck and fortune, or star smiles to be exact. I visually learnt the crater location during Google Earth maps review sessions, but the ruby...
Morning weather reminded me of an old local saying “All terms of year may change in one day in Pamir”. So it was. Went to café to have breakfast, it was clear and warm. When I left café, a cloud suddenly appeared that generated snow like some ice nebulizer.
Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDTBSWiFSU4
Snow stopped when I was leaving the village. Sun came out. Then hid again and the rain began. Nothing uncustomary to Murgab.

Asphalt ends right after qishlaq. Salt marshes begin with a slight hint of the vehicle trail on surface of an even mountain plateau…




Nasty weather again
Soon I ran into some sort of a mining or some minerals extraction field.

Serpentine road runs separately in the Mountain – my knowledge tells there is a ruby mine around here).



Did not hope to find it that fast. So I left the mine for later, and went on to crater. Drove a long way… some more… it would not show up. Chose the tack and tack riding manner so not to miss it, would not help…Decided to go back and full throttled to almost hop into an earth mouth. It was that crater! Happiness got soon replaced with strange anxiety feeling. I swear the place conveyed some feeling of extraterrestrial cold. It took me a long time to pull together to approach the crater. It is about 50 meters in diameter and 10 deep. Edges however already collapsed for rain and wind erosion. .


I did not find history of how it came there. But I dared to go down to its bottom. So cool! Crater-cool!!


Back for rubies!!!) I came to that mine and began to skid to abandoned mine along rock and gravel serpentine road running in upwards direction into the mountains.




Soon I got tired. I had not passed a third of the whole distance, but felt unrealistically tired. Tired from happing together with me bike from one side to another, and most of the times tending to jump into the abyss, tired of skidding, and tired of breathing too. Besides, I feared to damage wheels with some sharp rocks. So I jumped off me bike and took a couple of minute walk to see whether I would find a ruby. I did not so I just took off to pass through other session of skidding and hopping. I am done here. I want to get back to Murgab ASAP.

Much later, it turned out I made a major mistake in my quest. So, it turned out good I did not make it on top of that serpentine and the mine, for it was an abandoned Uranium Mine!
))

General impression of today’s trip is good.
Made it safe to Qishlaq.

All Murgab houses are flat-roofed. Rains are rare here.


Murgab. Television center.


Victory Day Monument


Careful! Man with a kid drawn later!


Tajik Currency - Somoni.








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Old 01-14-2012, 04:45 AM   #15
Mara Loochezarny OP
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Pamir

On May, 29th Murghab - Gulcha (Kirghizia) 333km


5.00 mornings Adri sent sms from Khorog, he start. I with surprising accuracy have calculated arrival Адри to Murghab - if at it all will be as at me that of 311 km it will pass for 5 hours of a way. From idleness has gone towards and before entrance to Murghab began to wait for it on militian to a post. Exactly in 10 I have seen a lonely from apart lonely, shone headlight of a motorcycle. However, but for these two days I have really felt, that to me is awfully lonely without mine голанндского the friend, with it is more cheerful. Still it has pleased me with that has not forgotten to take away vodka from Khorog which we have bought in Dushanbe, it on road through заснеженный pass Kokterez also was sincerely cooled, therefore it has appeared absolutely by the way.
Video http: // www.youtube.com/watch? v=H1aPcanLCyg

Though and not for a long time, but Аdri has visited Murghab.


Pamir Yaks.


Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3cNsUGW6w0



On the top of highest pass of the former USSR. 4655m


The road goes along the Chinese border. China is behind a prickly fence.



Welcome to Chine!))


The first outpost on new boundaries of Russian empire. A outpost "Pamir". 1902.


Now monument.


Traffic sign - attention!


Kishlak Karakul and high-mountainous salty lake Karakul





No works gas station


Have crossed border quickly. No cars not present people there. Said : goodbye aside the dark blue sky and snow mountains: " Up to new meetings Pamir!!! "


Border Tajikistan from Kirghizia









I warned Adri that it is necessary to take a helmet the closed face))












Hotel, vodka, sms - day is finish)


to be continued...
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