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  • Day170

    Random observations in Tajikistan

    August 27 in Tajikistan ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    As we passed our 10days in this beautiful country only in the GBAO district, driving along the Pamir Highway and exploring the Wakhan and Bartang valley, these observations can't really speak for the whole country, I guess. But they're our impressions of it, so I thought we'd share them anyways.

    Street posts are made from stone. Do not hit them!

    Only 7% of the country are below 1000m of altitude.

    We saw more tourists on the Pamir Highway than locals. Tourists have different means of transportation. Some have their own car like us, some have hired a car, some are travelling as part of a tour, some hitchhike, some are on motorbikes, some are on bicycles and some walk.

    A big shuffle seems to be THE must-have accessoir for Tajik men.

    We hardly saw any wildlife in the Bartang valley. The farther up you go the fewer livestock (and people) there is. But flowers, insects and beautiful butterflies can be found everywhere, even in the remotest corner.

    Tajik people (at least the ones we met) are super friendly. I loved the moment when we drove past and confusion was swept off the faces and replaced by a big smile that brightened up the whole person and seemed to charge the whole surrounding with positivity. Melted my heart.

    Soccer and volleyball seem to be the most popular sports. We drove past a lot of fields, especially in the Wakhan valley.

    Hitchhiking is very common to get from A to B. If you can't find someone to take you, you walk.

    At least during harvest season, you can buy food, both in the Wakhan and the Bartang valley. No need to stock up too much beforehand. Your money is better spent here!

    There are two Afghan markets, one in Ishkashim and one in Khorog, that foreigners can go to without obtaining a visa for Afghanistan. We didn't make it as they only happen once a week, but it must be an experience.

    We were very impressed by people's English levels, once again! However, the guy in the Khorog tourist office mentioned, it's mostly the people in the GBAO, not so much other parts of Tajikistan, that speak such good English. He might have been biased though.

    Tajikistan is a windy country. It usually picks up in the late mornings and gets stronger throughout the day. Then it calms down at night and very often in the mornings you can enjoy a few quiet ad warm hours - if you get up early enough.

    Many streets in the GBAO district are closed during winter (sep-march). Only the M41 (the main Pamir Highway) stays open all year as it is the main trade route. The villages in the other valleys need to prepare to be almost self-sufficient, there usually is a community Hall to store food supplies.

    It's the rivers that enable life in the valleys. Roads lead along them and they turn the surroundings green, providing for the local communities. We've seen many canals leading to the fields (and we often had to cross them, too).

    Ibex horns are used to mark sacred sites and sometimes to protect one's home from evil spirits. Sadly, we haven't seen a single alive one.

    Apricots are dried on any warm and fairly even surface that can be found. Roofs, stones, carpets. In winter they're soaked in water, flour and sometimes sugar is added and this way they help to fight the hunger.
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