Photos of Tajikistan
On August 22, we entered Tajikistan with a 45-day visa and a simple plan: to cycle the infamous M41 aka the Pamir Highway. After many encounters and recommendations from travellers, our journey evolved. We chose to pedal the Wakhan Valley on the border with Afghanistan continuing into the Zorkul National Park. Potholes, pebbles, sand, blizzards, broken gear, travellers diarrhoea, altitude sickness, all the ingredients were there for a grandiose adventure lived with joy and smile all the way to the end. 42 days later, we left this paradise for Kyrgyzstan.
From more than a thousand photos, we selected and commented 97. You can see them here.
What’s next ?
Exiting the Pamir Highway, we were meant to continue eastward to China. This was without counting on the administrative nightmare inherent to all visa application from abroad. Our stay of two and a half months in Turkey, although incredible, cost us our pass for this vast empire. The Chinese consul wanted to meet us in person, in France (where we had sent our passports to an agency) for an interview and to take our fingerprints. Impossible.
Since then, we have explored all possibilities knowing that taking an airplane wasn’t an option. For us, flying is a bit like breaking the continuity that bike touring creates. It is landing somewhere without realising how much distance was traveled. It is landing in a new world with completely different customs without observing their evolution. It is spending a lot of money to go fast by being completely passive. It is breaking this line that we’ve been drawing on the world map for a year.
You got it, we have been thinking a lot. We checked how we could go further north. Pedalling across Siberia in winter, forget it. We had a look at the Transiberian. Getting stuck in Vladivostok because the sea is frozen and boats don’t sail, forget it. We thought about going back in the other direction. Retracing our steps in Central Asia and spending more than 3 months without climbing again, forget it. We investigated the possibilities of settling in Kyrgyzstan for winter. Dropping our panniers for 6 months in a very cold area without a climbing wall, forget it. We wanted to re-apply for the Chinese visa. Spending 500 euros to enter the country a month later than expected, being cold and snowy, forced to take trains and seeing nothing, forget it.
So, what do we do now?
With the Chinese visa refused, perhaps it’s rather a good thing. From Osh, where we are now, we will cycle north towards Bishkek. On the 20th of October, we will be celebrating one year on the road with Adam’s parents who are coming to visit for 10 days. It gives us plenty of time to explore Kyrgyzstan when we would not have seen much of it if everything had gone as planned.
Then we will cycle to Almaty in Kazakhstan where we will take a plane (yes, we gave up…) to Bangkok in Thailand. We will therefore spend a warm winter in Southeast Asia trying to pedal as little as possible and climb as much as possible. We are planning a journey between climbing sites in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, the idea being to spend at least 2-3 weeks in each of them.
After that? Actually, we did not really give up the idea of cycling across China. We are hopping to get our visa in Laos and return to Bishkek early next summer to resume the line where we turned off in Sary-Tash just before the Chinese border. Again, we are better off for it. We will suddenly be in Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of the summer. On the road to China near Osh, there are big walls (big cliffs that require several days of climbing). The plan is to spend a couple of months enjoying the summer for a real mountain expedition. After this little adventure, we’ll be ready to get back on the bikes, eastwards. This brings us to Bangkok again next December, from where once again the plan is east. Or is it? A working visa in Australia? In Canada? In New Zealand? Japan? The future will tell us but in any case, surely nothing will happen as planned.
The adventure continues!