At the Afghan Border

The Panji River and Afghanistan in the background
The Panji River and Afghanistan in the background

From Dushanbe it was first a very nice 110 km ride on sealed road for the first day. On day two the paved road stoped and for the next three days it was nothing but rocks, gravel and sand and every now and then a Chinese truck passing by. It is unbelievable that this is one of the two only roads to the Pamir. The landscape is beautiful and most of the time we have the roads for ourselves.

 

But not enough that the road is in a very bad condition, there is also an 3'250m pass to cross before getting to the Panji-Valley which marks the boarder between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In the Panji-Valley the road is not much better: sometimes seald sometimes loose gravel sometimes a mixture. Signs of land mines warn not to get off the road at many places. Still a bad souvenir from the Russian Afghan war. And you better don't get off the road, there really are still some mines. Sometimes you see teams scanning the hills for mines.

 

Once over the pass we drive along the Afghan Border for four days. We always sleep in our tent, asking somebody to camp in the garden or look for a nice safe spot next to the road. Normally we go to sleep around 8 or 9 p.m., when it gets dark and we get up with the sun around 5 and 5.30 a.m. when the sun rises. After eight cyclingdays we were all a little bit tired and looked forward for some restdays in Khorog.

 

Now Fred, Wendy and I are staying at the Lalmo Guesthouse at Khorog, which I can recomend. Khorog lies at 2'100m and is the gateway to the Pamir Highway at 3'500-4'600m. It is good to have some resting days for relaxing and shopping before getting on the bike again.

 

all the best from the Pamirs
more information in German...

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Kommentare: 1
  • #1

    Alex (Samstag, 23 Juli 2011 10:23)

    Hallo Bruder
    In der Schweiz ist schon Herbst...
    Schon seit Tagen Regen bei +/- 15°C und noch keine wirkliche Besserung in Sicht.
    In welchem staubigen Winkel sitzt du gerade?
    Gruess

    Alex

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Coming home 2

Coming home 10 months after I have left
Coming home 10 months after I have left

Going for a big journey is one thing, but coming home is another. Just today I've got a qoutation from Albert Camus from a cycling buddy:

 

"What gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have... Far from our own language, stripped of all our props... we are completely on the surface of ourselves. But also, soul-sick, we restore to every being and every object its miraculous value."

 

I think this is very true and gets the very point of the adventure of going for a big journey. And now coming home is another adventure. And it breaks down another inner structure again. After so many months on the road with no home but the tent or a hotelroom, the routine of getting on the bike every morning, looking at the sky and the weather, the impression of so many so different people, animals, landscapes, sounds, smells coming home is like another big adventure. An adventure at least as big as the going away. Coming home with all these impressions, life will never be the same again.

 

After two months of asylum at my parents house in the north east of Switzerland I found a place to stay in Zurich in April. So it was time to go for the last bit of my journey: riding the 80km back home to Zurich. I took some small roads through the hills of the Hinterthurgau, crossed the Lake of Zurich on a ferry and reached Zurich Wollishofen almost exactly 10 months after I have left the town by bike (see photo).

 

This is the end of my journey.

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From +30 to -20 degrees Celsius

Snowcovered hills back home
Snowcovered hills back home

Taking a plane with a bicycle always makes me a little bit nervous since there seem not to exist any definitive regulations and it always depends partly on the goodwill of the clerk at the check-in desk. After organizing a carboard-box for the bike and a taxiride to Bangkok International Airport I was checking in as early as possible with 38kg instead of the allowed 30kg. The woman at the counter did some phonecalls but in the end gave me boardingpass and ticket and I didn't have to pay any overweight!! Yeeeesss! It could have been 40$/kg overweight!

 

After one night in Colombo my plane to Switzerland took off at noon on February, 3 and by sunset we landed in Zurich. The temperature outside: minus 11 degrees Celsius and still dropping! And it dropped as far as minus 22 degrees the following night. The next day - exactly eight months after my departure - I cycled the last few km back home through a beautiful snowcovered landscape.

 

Total time: 8 months

Total km: 8'864 km

Total countries: 7 (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand)

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The dewdrop has reached the ocean

After more or less eight months and 8800km of cycling I have reached the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

 

After two weeks in Chiang Rai I missed my bicycle. So I took a bus down to Bangkok again just to take my bicycle on the train and head for the Cambodian border at Aranya Prathet where I crossed the border three weeks before. I decided to make a little detour through Cambodia before heading south to the sea. I passed through the colonial City of Battambang and continued from there south to the borderprovince of Pailin, known for gemstones and beeing the last "Khmer Rouge Resort". From here I cycled straight down to Trat at the Gulf of Thailand and took a boat to the remote jungle-island of Koh Kut (picture).

 

The Island is the perfect lonely-beach-paradise and endpoint of my pilgrimage from the Central Asian deserts over the Himalayan Plateau to the jungles of Southeast Asia. So I pass my remaining days here at the white beaches of Koh Kut.

 

On february, 2 my flight leaves at 7 p.m. from Bangkok International Airport direction Switzerland...

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