Thursday, June 14, 2012


After another wonderful breakfast supplied by Lalmore we packed up and set off on our way to Murghab.
We were going to look at the Botanic Gardens and headed that way but Craig wasn't keen to dilly dally seeing we knew we'd be going over snow in the mountains so turned back.
We went through a few more villages and came across some pretty bad road on the way. We met Dave from Mullimbimby, Australia who was on a pushbike. A real Aussie accent, dreadlocks and very friendly.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Came into some soft snow flakes and thought, "Oh, that's cute," but then it got heavier and heavier like sleet and rough road too and wasn't pleasant. It was freezing!!!
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugPhoto & Video Sharing by SmugMugPhoto & Video Sharing by SmugMugPhoto & Video Sharing by SmugMugPhoto & Video Sharing by SmugMugEven before that I had thought how bumping away reminded me of when I was pregnant with Amy and on the way to the Mt Alvernia Hospital in Bendigo, with a full bladder for a scan, suffering greatly at each bump in the short five minute journey.
This seemed to be 10 times worse and longer!!!
So here we were going through sleet, could hardly see, freezing cold, bumpy most of the time and dying to go to the toilet - and couldn't take photos!!! That was one of the most frustrating things because it's certainly not every day you're in this situation!!!
At one stage couldn't believe we came across s house!!! Craig saw one with smoke coming out of the chimney.
Blue skies were so welcome after but still couldn't relax as the road was extremely bumpy so pretty painful!! I mentioned to Craig if he can find anything resembling a hidey hole could he stop. He was having the same problem and discomfort so was happy to, as it turns out next to a drain with wings about five foot down the side of the deserted road so that was great. :)
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Time to try using Danielle, Lalmore's suggestions and whipped out the long bit of material Sarsinov helped me buy in the markets at Denov in Uzbekistan just in case someone could see me.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugThe weather behaved itself for awhile and not long after we passed a homestay named Marco Polo we came upon Sven from Germany on a pushbike also, also with some dreadlocks and awfully nice too!
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugWe were a bit worried about him as he asked how many kilometers to Murghab on the GPS, Craig said 95 km and he seemed to be saying that's good and he would still expect to be in Murghab so we gave him the name of Sary Kol Lodge where we were going to stay there. It was already already mid afternoon.
We had another pass before Murghab and so did Sven.
We all clicked two days later when he double checked the kilometres with Craig again. He explained when Craig said 95 he took it as 59 because in Germany you say the second number first. One of those little differences in culture that wouldn't have mattered if Craig had rounded up his answer to 100 :) but made a huge difference to Sven; almost 50 kilometres and maybe three hours!!
We then went through another heavy rain/snow and it was extremely cold. After that I didn't get to take many more photos as didn't want to get it wet and the time I risked it had problems.
Somewhere on the journey once again I did not capture the images of the cute little bright yellow marmots popping up on the side of the road (as in Kazakhstan).
When I couldn't take photos the scenery changed dramatically! The mountains first changed from brown/red but also there were great crevices in the earth either side. Also so many layers of different scenery. On your left you would see the crevices in the earth in the foreground, mountains of different shapes and sizes and colors all together between you and the snow capped mountains not that far away!!! Should have gone back the next day for photos!!
At the near end of our journey for that day we had a checkpoint with police outside Murgab where you could just see the village in the distance. They took our passports but were friendly. Someone was changing a tyre there and another man was talking to me in sign language (Craig was inside the guard house). He had asked if I was married. When I said yes he motioned slitting someone's throat!!! He was drunk and the second policeman was with me the whole time and was joking around not taking him seriously. He tried to say the same thing to Craig he came out.
We were so relieved to get back on the bike as it was so cold and we could see the town so we were encouraged!! Didn't take too long to find the homestay - near the end of the village.
IMG_1897_2IMG_1093 We were welcomed with a place to put our bike and a hot cup of tea and biscuits and chocolates soon after on some cosy cushions!! ( and some hot water to have a warm wash in lovely new inside bathroom to take the cool chill out of our bones before dinner not too long after!!!). The water is from the well and the women of the family have to draw and carry it so we tried not to use too much.
European toilet! Bonus! (outside in a separate building)
Felt a lot warmer after that but put our thermals back on and still a couple of extra layers(we'd been just sooooo cold)
We were brought a beautiful dinner of small pieces off meat on a bed or rice with small cloves of roasted garlic through it!! (apparently called Plov). Scrumptious! Also as with every meal we were brought a pot of black tea, a pot of green tea, and a pot of not water for coffee!!, some dried apricots and little fish shaped biscuits and lots of bread!!
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugWe had a chat with Jacqueline who helped set up the guesthouse and runs the rebreeding program - reintroduction of kyrgyzstan horses to the Murghab area which are a hardier breed to the introduced Russian horses who have been dying in the extreme minus 50 temperatures the last couple of years and causing a lot of hardship for the farmers.
She also helped set up solar electricity in the hospital and the homestay and village. She is trying to work out how to organize hot water in a way that would not use more water (tourists not always considerate). One tourist who stayed the night before us used 50 litres on their own! Craig told her of a few Australian companies that could help. He also suggested the 20 Lt camping bags that heat up during the day to be used at night. She had concerns tourists would then expect to use a bag each, a whole 20 litres to be collected per person. Craig is working in this problem :)
IMG_5203 Jacqueline is based in Bishkek but half the time is in Murghab too.
Nurizat, who did most of the running after us at Sary Kol spoke excellent English and was full of very interesting facts but also was interested in what we were doing too. She spoke regarding having GPS points on their advertising material to Craig and he was able to provide them for her.
We went to bed feeling so much better than when we arrived and heard Sven come in when we thought it was 9. (Nuzilat snd her family had been looking iut for him after we'd said how worried we were when he hadn't arrived).
We found out in the morning that our phones were both one hour behind the correct time when we went out for breakfast at what we thought was 8 and it was actually 9!! So embarrassed!
Sven had breakfast with us and so waited!!! His website is
Thoroughly recommend catching up with his adventures now and then. The distances he covered in the time he did over the terrain he did in the two days of travel we shared was amazing!!! He is a hardcore pushbike rider for sure!! As they say in the "Stan's", "EXTREME"!!!!
Getting back to our homestay - Nurizat said ,when asked ,that people are usually expected to leave around 9 or 10!! We decided to stay one more night. It ended up being $45 each night which included breakfast and dinner each day which included breakfast and dinner each day and afternoon tea when we arrived and the next afternoon too (lovely surprise of dried mulberries and apricots and biscuits and chocolates )
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug IMG_1931 We'd had a beautiful sleep the first night and after a leisurely (late) breakfast we set off for the Murghab village markets Nurizat had suggested. Just a short walk down the main road where rows of containers stood cold and not so visually appealing the night before were the open containers overflowing with colour, food, clothes, people everywhere filling the gravel roads between them. The men in their white felt hats were particularly interesting. Many women, as we walked towards them would hold their scarves over their faces, something I noticed the afternoon before as we drove thorough but had thought then it was because of the cold whereas it was quite a warm day.
On the walk from Sary Kol Lodge we were heralded by a little boy or girl playing peek a boo with us around the corner if their house saying hello each time until we were quite a distance away. We had many hellos from young people at the markets and smiles from some. (On the way back we heard a faint hello from somewhere and it was a young girl sitting on a porch quite a distance away waving ).
Nurizat had also recommended a cafe called Rahut (Рахат) which is a local favorite. I took some photos but it doesn't really capture the flavor of busyness of the ladies cooking and serving as opposed to the comfort and restfulness experienced by ourselves and other patrons.
There were rooms with curtains through which you could catch glimpses of people enjoying a private meal. We stopped in the main entry and sat at the first table to meet and eat with a young German couple, Moritz and Clare, who are hitch hiking in the same direction for awhile but then China. They were at another homestay starting with E :)! Their website is
They had an appointment with a lift at 2 so we said our goodbyes.
That was the first time we'd been introduced to Shorpo, soup with meat in the bone in the middle and knew from then on if we didn't know what was on the. Eu just to ask for that :) and a coke or and choi (tea). Did us well. Oh and Manty (pronounced Monty), (large filled pasta filled with meat with no sauce- maybe in soup).
We got back and were being lazy when we heard Nurizat out in the common room. She'd set up some afternoon tea for us!!! Saying "thought you might be thirsty". How lovely.
Thank goodness we could recharge our phones and the camera as we had electricity from about 7:30 each night til after breakfast the next day.
While we were staying at the guesthouse Nuzilat's brothers were busy collecting rocks and then beginning the building of another part of the building to annexe a kitchen. Nuzilat's mother and sister-in-law currently cook the meals in the family buildings on either side of the guesthouse.
There was a tourist centre but we didn't get to visit it :) too much other stuff to do. :)
In our chats with Nurizat we discovered a new school will open later in this year for all grades, kids from 7years to 18. She feels they should teach more English than they do as she said they just learn one word or two a week like "bucket" and that she didn't learn that way but through sponsorship to Bishkek university to learn English and living with someone who only spoke English at the same time.
We asked about jobs and she said there are many without jobs. The women certainly look busy enough!!certainly no washing machines, no running water.
We also found out that girls are still being kidnapped as brides by men from other villages and that boys from her village have done the same. This is a constant threat for the girls in these areas.
The reality of it came when Nurizat's sister in law came to check on her after we'd got talking for so long that it was 11:45. Her family were worried about her!! What an eye opener. (Any prayers out there huge prayer points there!!!)
We went to bed with lots on our mind!
Woke up and were on time for a breakfast for the second time of a delicious rice cereal (semolina? Tapioca?) and raisins. We'd been fed up with a lovely dinner of pasta pancake (layers of pasta and meat and potato and onion et cetera rolled like a strudel and sliced in to rings. Mmm,.
We were all a bit tired and not looking forward to the next pass after the previous cold and wet one two days before.
Our hosts Murghab, Tajikstan IMG_1103 Nuzilat and her family gave us a lovely send off and her little niece had a photo taken on the bike. After a false start past the Chinese truck depot to an airport no longer used we got away on the gravel road and quite awhile later caught up with Sven who left 20 mins before us!

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