Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan



Please forgive me when I say that my travel diary notes will have to be shorter for a while.  I’ve embarked on a journey that involves long distances at high altitudes on terrible roads (though through stunning scenery), and the simple task of survival requires almost all my waking hours.  Okay, “survival” is a bit melodramatic, but simple tasks of daily washing of a limited supply of clothes (usually with only  available cold water), packing and re-packing the small backpack that is my sum-total of luggage, and just doing anything that takes physical exertion at such high altitudes takes longer than usual.  Even meals take an hour and a half or more because of the gentle, relaxed ways that things are done by local folk.  These diaries typically take a couple of hours each day to prepare, and I really need sleep to cope with the high altitudes - sadly, the level of detail in these diaries might have to suffer a little.

With that caveat, let me tell you about my day.  The main aim of the day was to travel the 186 kilometres from Osh south-east to the small hamlet of Sary-Tash (population about 1,500 people).  The journey was designed to take half a day, which left the morning free to explore Osh. 

We chose to spend the time in Osh’s most interesting place, the Jamya Bazaar.  That suited me well, as I needed to purchase some clothes to replace the ones in the lost luggage.  I had only seen a small part of the markets on my visit yesterday; the markets extend over seven kilometres in length and half a kilometre wide, so there was lots more to explore.

Needless to say, the market is one of the largest in Central Asia, and it sells everything you could possibly need. Locals claim that the Jamya Bazaar has been in existence for over 2,000 years.  We walked through alleyways to explore the stalls and see trade being conducted from the backs of old shipping containers and the remains of Soviet-era trucks. In addition to the bread and meat that I had seen yesterday, fascinating parts of the markets included the areas selling confectionery, nuts, traditional babies’ cradles and coverings, ceramics and porcelain-ware, and the blacksmiths’ zone where all sorts of metal objects were being hand crafted.

We spent a good two hours wandering around, during which I did manage to buy some much-needed warm clothing for the trip ahead in the high mountains.

We checked out of the hotel at midday, and after a lovely traditional-style Kyrgyz lunch in a home on Osh’s south-eastern suburbs, we headed off on the M41 road, also known as the Pamir Highway.  This road was constructed between 1930 and 1932 to open up some of the most remote parts of the USSR, and it was a major engineering feat at the time.

The views were spectacular as we followed the Gulcha River valley, becoming even more spectacular as we climbed and crossed Taldyk Pass at an altitude of 3,615 metres.  Needless to say, the day resulted in a great collection of hundreds of photos.

From Taldyk Pass, the road descended through other river valleys until we reached our destination, a small guesthouse in the hamlet of Sary-Tash (altitude 3,100 metres).  This small backwater is surrounded by high mountains, seemingly cut off from the world outside.

The guesthouse was very basic, and sleeping arrangements were five per room on mats on the floor.  Toilets were of the squat variety, there was just one cold shower available, and the guesthouse had no chairs.  But what it lacked in amenities it made up for in the great vista from the front door – a clear line of sight to the snow-capped Pamir Mountains, which are our destination tomorrow.

Day 4

Osh to Sary-Tash


19 August 2018