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We are both be awake before sunrise. I get up for a moment to go to the toilet. The picture that opens up in front of me is beautiful: snowy mountains, some yaks lying on the pasture, first rays of sun, some clouds and fog - I go right back and get the camera. I really want to capture these impressions.
We are quickly ready to go and happy to be able to leave this place. There's one little detail I noticed. At the final check whether we have everything packed I see a glass with spring flowers on the windowsill.
We say goodbye to the two Frenchmen Claudine and Marcel, wish each other a good journey and start the ascent.
The road conditions are exactly as they have been described: the road is muddy, loamy, slippery because of the wetness, everywhere there are rocks and boulders, it is steep, especially in the curves. We don't waste any thought on trying to drive this track at all. We push, partly lift our wheels. The dirt gets stuck between the mudguard and the tire, so we have to stop again and again and scrape away the dirt. The cycling shoes don't look any better and are getting heavier and heavier. Here, too, the dirt gets stuck. Besides, the air here is thin. Progress is very slow, step by step. As soon as we get a little out of rhythm, run a little faster, the return carriage comes, we don't get enough breath. On the way we meet a jeep which has gone off the road, probably the car has turned over, because the roof rack incl. fruit, luggage, box are scattered everywhere. Not surprising in these road conditions. At least, casualties don't seem to have it. With another jeep the Kyrgyz try to get the car back on the road, not an easy undertaking. We're passing the accident site, we can't help anyway. Finally we see the pass at some distance. With the goal in mind, walking and pushing is a little easier. Strength training for the arms is free today. With great relief we reach the top of the pass. We did it! Welcome to Tajikistan! Of course, we have to record this photographically. A selfie is not enough, you need the camera with self-timer! But we are still waiting for the feeling of happiness, we can't really believe that we are on top! We stay only a short time up here, after all we still want to reach Karakul at the lake of the same name. The descent is a lot easier than the ascent, even if the paved road is still a bit behind schedule. After a few kilometres we pass the border control post of Tajikistan. The border formalities are speedily completed and soon we have the necessary stamps in our passports. At the border post we have to walk one last time through the mud. I definitely put on my bike overshoes too soon, they are dripping with dirt. Finally we are back on asphalt, the descent becomes easier. Suddenly Markus notices that he has a flat tire. This too! We try to find the hole in the tire, but we see nothing. After filling in the sealing liquid, everything is fine again. To reach Karakul, we may drive another pass with a pass height of 4256 MüM. From the top of the pass we have a wonderful view of the turquoise blue Karakul Lake. We start the gentle descent, enjoy the panorama and the various light effects created by the sun and clouds. On the way we are invited to lunch by 3 Israeli who have parked their car at the roadside. The soup and the ready meal they serve us tastes wonderful. The three can hardly believe that we have started such an undertaking. We joke, laugh, talk before both groups continue their journey.
What would the day be without rain. Hardly on the way again, the wind picks up, we feel the first raindrops. What the hell! We brought our rainwear for something. The pictures we get to see in return are incredible: thunderstorm moods of the finest, sunbeams reflected in the lake, local clouds with downpours... best you have a look at the pictures. I don't have the words to describe everything!
Finally we reach Karakul. Thanks to the tip of Claudine and Marcel we already know in which homestay we should stay. Namely where many cyclists meet and especially where there is a hot shower! And that's exactly right. At our arrival is already almost full house, well and gladly about 12 people are already accommodated. There's a place for us too. It feels like in former times in the summer camp - we sleep in the mass strike (there were five of us).
Entering Tajikistan is a new experience of what it means to have nothing. At this altitude hardly anything grows, some animals graze in the plain and eat the few bushes and grasses that grow in this barren landscape. Accordingly, there is little variety in terms of food. Fresh vegetables and fruits have to be transported from far away. Simple potato dishes, eggs and bread will therefore be one of our main foods in the near future. There is hardly any electricity. Between 19.00 and 21.00 the generator runs, then it is time to turn off the lights. From time to time the mobile has reception, but for the most part not. We have some internet-free time ahead of us, you have to wait for the pictures.
The owners of our homestay are very pleasant and attentive hosts. They have furnished the Homestay homely and above all, there is a warm washing facility. In a small outbuilding they heat up a huge bucket of hot water on a wood stove, next to it is a bucket of cold water to mix the right water mix/temperature. Of course, we won't miss it. With a ladle we pour the water over us, it is steaming like in a sauna. It feels wonderful - after this exhausting day we feel like newborn after a shower.
Together with the other guests we spend a cosy evening before we go to bed "with the chickens".
The next morning we're up again with the chickens. We've got a cosy day ahead of us. We want to rest and recharge our batteries before we reach the highest pass of this trip.
We watch the other cyclists and motorcyclists getting ready for their onward journey, exchange addresses, say goodbye. We will certainly meet some of them again on the way. Then it'll be quiet. We're the only guests left. We're going for a little walk in the village. Water pumps are installed in various places, women and girls fill their water buckets here and carry them home. There are 2 village shops here. We enter one of them, which is accommodated in a yurt. There is exactly one shelf, 1m wide, 2m high. The shelf is almost empty; it has 5 litre bottles of water, 4 of which we buy, 2 packs of orange juice, some ready-to-eat meals, 2 packs of old Guetsli - that's it. In the second shop Markus finds toilet paper and matches. There's not much more. In the courtyards of the houses we see how the dry scrub of the surrounding area is stacked, which is used for firing along with the dried cow dung. Some men make bricks, other men discuss in small groups in the village square. We feel transported to another world. And yet: all people are very friendly, have a smile on their faces. Impossible for us to live like this for long periods. And as it may only be in winter, with the short days, meter-high snow, icy cold...
A short bike ride to Lake Karakul round off the day. In the evening 5 more motorcyclists arrive, so we have some company.