Brisbane2Bristol

On our great adventure

Riding the Panmir Highway… High up in Tajikistan…

The ride up to the Tajikistan checkpoint was stunning,we even had a flurries of snow.

while at the border we found out there was a $10 fee for the entry of the bikes, we had to go into a small hut, where it was so warm the guard had a little pot stove to not only keep himself warm but his kettle.

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Old bus full of locals….

The road was just a gravel track full of potholes, but worse were sections of corrugations that rattled the bike and our fillings out of our teeth…

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We then came to a fast flowing river crossing, it didn’t look deep but the entry and exit points would give me trouble bottoming out so it was safer for Chris to get off and jump across some rocks to get across…

With the bike safely on the other side, I got off and helped Chris find away across, we did it but not without getting our feet wet in the icy water, so a quick change into some dry socks and we were on our way.

We were now riding at a altitude of over 4200 metres and beginning to suffer headaches..

We could see a town settlement not to far away by a lake and I had coordinates for a home stay that was there….

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With us all now settled in after a hot shower, that was in a out building, and had a big boiler in a small room that was fired by Yak dung, the shower room was so hot, almost a steam room, just what you need after a cold ride.
At the Home Stay we were provided with a hot dinner which was very welcoming, bowls of hot soup with bread with some hot chai..

After getting rugged up for the night with loads of thick blankets that were supplied, it didn’t take long to fall asleep exhausted.

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We were riding the world famous Panmir highway, the roof of the world at over 4200 metres, with fantastic scenery and we couldn’t be happier.

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Breakfast in the morning was again bread and chai and we soon got on our way.
Bens bike needed a bump start, at this altitude it was finding it hard to run…

The scenery was just jaw dropping, we could see the road right the way into the horizon with not a soul insight…
We met some cyclist just outside a small settlement and had the usual chat, we later stopped in the village to buy some benzine(petrol) from a drum! it was only 80 octane, which isn’t good, but that’s all they have here….

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With some lunch and a small fix to the luggage rack we were on our way again…

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Yummy mo mo’s…

The road was very desolate, you wouldn’t want to break down here.

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We stopped as there was no sign of Ben behind us for a long time, the agreement was whoever was in front would stop, wait for those behind to catch up…We sat on the road up against our bike getting a little protection from the cold wind, even though it was a desolate place it still held a lot of beauty..

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With the half hour up we figured there must be a problem so we trudged back the way we had come and found Ben coming towards us, he said had to stop and tinker with his bike…again!
We were soon on our way and as it was getting late in the day, it was way too cold to camp so we would have to find the next home stay for the night .

We rode into the next village and we booked into a a rest stop that had about six beds in a dormitory style room, the beds were metal frames with springs across the base so it was like sleeping in a hammock… had a good nights sleep though.

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Tyres for bike sticker,from Brisbane Queensland….

The young girl who ran the house cooked us two minute noodles dinner and lots of hot chai, again it didn’t take long to fall a sleep under a heavy load of blankets, plus we were all still suffering with mild headaches from the altitude…..Chris couldn’t get to sleep as she was having problems with her shoulder and used a hot water bottle to help relieve some of the pain…

The toilet block was very bleak has well, you wouldn’t want to be venturing out there at night…
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The road started to descend slowly but the scenery was still out of this world..

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As we were coming down into the valleys it also started to get a bit warmer now…
We stopped and had a chat with a couple of cyclists from France, who pointed out to Arran that his front tyre looked a bit flat..
Yep it was flat alright so we started to take the tyre off when a couple of friendly Germans turned up on old BMWs and proceeded to take over and fix the the puntcher….

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We decided it was a good time to make some tea for everyone, we all had a good chat about the road ahead, they warned us of some big dogs just down the road that come out and chase you…
Well they were right, they came out and chased us for ages…

We also noticed kids picking up rocks ready to throw at us, but soon as i pointed at them, they dropped them, whats going on here, who do they thing we are the enemy?….some kids also made their fingers into guns and pointed them at their heads, gesturing to us…now thats not very friendly…

We stopped for the night in the town of Khorog at Panmir lodge, a well known stop for overlanders.
They only had a place on the verandah, but there was a hot shower albeit a bit dangerous how it was wired up..

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Hmmmm. just loop the live wires over for a hot shower….

It was a great setting, there were ripe apricot and cherries trees where we could just pick and graze on…
We ended up staying two nights as the town was half decent with a few good places to eat…

Plus we all to do bits and pieces to the bikes mainly tightening of bolts,i found a bolt missing from my front mudguard that also held my brake line, so that had to be done before we left…
Chris had to see a doctor as well as her shoulder was giving her a lot of pain…she later emerged with the doctor saying she had a cold in her shoulder, the doctors english was a bit limited i think, Chris also came out armed with tablets…

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There was great park in middle of town…

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We had a decent meal in town next to the fast flowing river that looked icy cold…

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We debated over dinner on how long you would last if you fell in …

About 4am chris woke me up to say she heard a loud rumble, then it happened again…SHIT…its an earth quake, all the dogs in the area were going nuts with barking, we lied in bed wondering weather we should get dressed and grab our document bags, would some of the big boulders that the resting on the mountain side, that was right next to our hut, come rolling down and crush us? instead we went back to sleep…
Arran and Ben slept through it!
The owner of the Guest House said they were waiting to hear if there had been any damage in the areas…

All bags packed and loaded onto the bikes we hit the road to Dunshabe the Capitol of Tajikastan.
This section of the highway skirted the border of Afganastan for a few hundred klms.
We were soon out of town and on to the ‘highway’ which turned out to be nothing more than a gravel track again with pot holes thrown in for good measure…

We could see Afgans going about there daily life on the other side of the river and we could here plenty of hellos shouted at us and lots of waving to us….

The road was very narrow in some places up against a cliff on one side and twenty metre drop down to the fast flowing river on the other side…

It was here we met the Australian couple again on their Triumph that we first met back in Kyrgyzstan, with a quick hello, it wasn’t a safe place to hang around with trucks squeezing past…

Only five minutes later after meeting them, we found out later that a truck had clipped them and sent them down the drop to the river, they went down four metres with cuts and bruises,only just hanging on from fallen further, their bike however, went tumbling further down and was smashed up quite bad…

Some locals helped them recover the bike and they paid a 4WD to strap the bike on the roof and take them to the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan so they could repair it….
Very lucky guys indeed….

We stayed in another home stay and had another tasty home cooked meal and fell asleep exhausted…
There was a Polish biker staying as well and he informed us that the long way around to Dushanbe was in better shape than the short way, so we took his advise…

I decided not to fuel up this morning as it was only 180 klms to Dushanbe and the fuel gauge was showing over half full….
Along one of the sections of bad roads, it looked liked some roads improvements were being done!
But the roads we had to go on were shocking and one hill looked like sand, so Arran bravely said he would go and check it out so me, Chris and Ben watched Arran ride down the hill and fall off into the ‘bull-dust’ not once but three times, we were all in fits of laughter, then road the other way around the road, when we meet up with Arran we had great delight in telling him how funny we thought his antics were…
The road started out great, a super slick fast tarmac road, boy this was great….

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Then abruptly it ended, back on to the gravel pot holed tracks again..
At one part there was no road at all, just a vague path across a stream that was running across, it was at this point the bike stalled….the fuel gauge showed that there was fuel, managed to get it going but it was running like a second hand lawn mower….

I think the gauge wasn’t reading correct and i was almost out of fuel, even though it showed i had fuel on the gauge…
I think the fuel pump had sucked up all the crap from the bottom of the tank where i had been running on the bad fuel we have had to buy…

I had put all my spare fuel in and some of Arran’s, but it was still running bad, at one stage Chris got on the back of Arran’s bike going up a steep rocky road as it was too dangerous me wrestling the bike that kept stalling, it was hot and i wasn’t having fun at this stage with the bike playing up…

We stopped at a place where the locals were washing there cars and let the bikes cool down and had a drink from the water the was gushing out of a pipe, we were so thirsty, we didn’t care about filtering the water, the locals said it was ok to drink…

With us and the bikes cooled off the bike behaved its self and ran like a dream, so what ever that was blocking the filter had cleared its self…

We passed a fantastic looking lake and the reflection on the water of the hills was amazing, there was no obvious way down, pity…

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We arrived in the City of Dushanbe late in the afternoon…to be continued

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