I have installed the Photo Stitch software that came with my camera onto this computer, and have put together a few panorama photos. They give the best idea yet of the kind of terrain I covered in Kyrgyzstan and recently through the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Enjoy.
Right, so I am ok. No need to send out any search teams. I am safely in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Highlights of the last month:
Ok, and there was also some mind blowing scenery too.
All to be revealed in the next few days! So hold tight and keep your eyes out for some excting updates from a stage of the trip that has been the most physically, emotionally, and mentally draining so far.
Was it an awesome one month? Without a doubt.
Would I choose to repeat it? No way.
English Summary: After an epic 24 hour bus ride, I am now in Dushanbe. So far I have been interested in only one thing. Food. And lots of it. Cereal, bread, Chinese, chicken shishkebabs…all soooooo gooooooood.
I rolled into Khorog feeling very weary, but went straight to OVIR (police office) with the letter from the Ishkashim Police regarding the lost camera incident and my need for a visa extension.
As directed by the Ishkashim Police manager, I asked for Mr, Anvar. Obviously the manager of Ishkashim police had overlooked talking to Mr. Anvar about my case, because Mr. Anvar showed me to another office with a very stern looking woman at a desk. She took one look at my passport, saw that my visa expires today, and said in no undertain terms “you must go to Dusanbe today on an airplane. You cannot extend your visa here!”
At this I demanded to know why I was told in Ishkashim that there would be ‘no problems’ to extend the visa in Khorog. Te stern woman looked perplexed and asked what I was talking about. I explained that I was told to come here, talk to Mr. Anvar, and that I could get an extension,
“Then what are you doing in my office?!” the woman spitted. She showed me the door and indicated that I should speak to Mr. Anvar again.
I politey asked Mr. Anvar to call the Ishkashim manager, and he kindly did so. In the end, after 10 minutes, I was out the door not with a visa extension, but with a special OVIR permit allowing me four days to get to Dushanbe.
Even if I was feeling fit and healthy, the 500km and 3400m pass to Dushanbe would not be possible in four days on a bicycle. I decided to find somewhere to stay the night, and then try to get a ride to Dushanbe tomorrow.
English Summary: At the checkpoint just after Garmchaasma, the police stopped me and gave me the good news that my camera had been found. Can you believe it, it was that nice son of the guest house owner that had stolen it. The detective was nice enough to drive all the way to the checkpoint to give me the camera. However I think he was just after money, because he said that I needed to pay investigation costs in order for him to hand the camera over. They came to US$240. I said forget it, keep the camera He relented and gave me it in the end. Unfortunately the little rascle who stole the camera took the memory card out. So still no photos from the ride from Langar to Warang.
I had my doubts about the $300. They were confirmed today when I was told through an interpreter that the detective could not find anyone to come up with $300 to give to me as a guarantee for finding the camera. Considering I had to pay $30 for petrol to get to Warang yesterday, it doesn’t surprise me. It was a dumb idea (the $300) in the first place.
Eventually it was decided that they would try to contact me through the interpreter once they found the camera. The detective is adamant that he will find it. He suspects the son of the guesthouse owner. I told him that there is no way that he could have done it. He was with me the whole time.
Anyway, at this present moment in time I hold no hope of the camera being found. This little point and shoot film camera will have to suffice until I can get my hands on a new digital camera.
Today’s riding was fairly easy. I am getting a little tired of the scenery though. More high walled valley, with the river running down it.
English Summary: The police beat up two guys last night on suspision of stealing my camera. They didn’t find the camera, so have decided to give me $300 as a guarantee until they find it. Once they find it, they will send it to me. Once I receive the camera, I send back the $300. I tried to explain the flaws in this plan, but no one understood. Went to a hot spring on the way home.
You really must try this some time. The whole ‘I-do-not-know-how-to-ask-even-a-simple-question-therefore-are-living-in-a-storybook-where-everything-is-revealed-in-small-bits-over-a-long-period-of-time’ thing. Today has been one of those days.
I arrive at the police station ready to get my police report regarding the loss of my camera (for my insurance company) and then leave on my bike towards Khorog. However, it seems that the police had other ideas.
The plain clothes officer (who turned out to be the district’s top detective) took my version of events, and exlained that he would like to travel with me back to Warang to find my camera. He was certain that he would find it. It is a small town after all. The detective definitely had an air of confidence about him. Walking through the corridors of the police station, he commanded respect. He stood tall, with impeccably groomed hair and moustache.
I expained that I had no issues with going back to Warang, however my visa expires in four days, so that will be a problem. The detective took a concerned look at my passport, and ushured me to an important looking door down the hallway. He knocked and entered straight away, indicating that I should follow.
The district police manager’s office was in stark contrast to the rest of the police building interior. There was deep peach coloured carpet, a glistening glass chandelier, and a large solid wood desk. The manager was not tall, but very large – his large salary seemed to be treating him well.
I was greeted with the obligitory hand shake and gold tooth smile, and was promptly told ‘your visa is no problem!’. They would give me any amount of extra days I needed. The police manager went on to explain that a foreign citizen losing his camera was a ‘very big problem for us’. It was their job to see that the camera i found. ‘Therefore, please go to Warang with Detective Nazar’. There is one small problem however, and that is concerning petrol. ‘Would you be able to pay for the petrol to go to Warang?’
I figured why not. I was getting a ride back along some awesome sccenery, and if they did indeed find my camera, then the US$30 I paid is less than the $100 excess on my travel insurance.
So now I find myself in Warang, at the family of the driver who drove us here.. The driver has been drinking heavily since we arrived in Warang, and according to him, we won’t be going back to Iskashim tonight. It looks as though I’ll be staying here at his house. I haven’t seen the police officers all day either. I guess I will hear about the results of their investigation tomorrow.
Lazy day listening to MP3 recordings of sermons at The Meeting House. This is a Christian church that impresses me most by its primary mission:
To give as many people as possible the opportunity to say no to the message of Jesus. Or yes.
That statement is in stark contrast to many other Christian missions whose sole goal is to convert, convert, convert the heathens!
The responsibility of evangelism is not to convert people. It is to get the message out there. Whether a person chooses to believe is their own informed choice…
This sermon (Ripple Effect – Growing in Grace) reminded me of how even though I might like to think that I by travelling alone I am succeeding on my own, in reality I have only made it this far by the continual support and assistance of people I meet on the road, and the psycological support I receive through this website. To know that people are relating to my day to day struggles and joys is an immense encouragement.
I agree with the speaker’s comment that ‘I am not self sufficient’.
They have some interesting sermons there at the Meeting House, discussing some very contemporary issues from a biblical perspective. And the speaker, Bruxy Cavey, has a very dynamic speaking style that is deep but also funny. You will laugh at least once in every sermon.