So we settled into the fanciest hotel in town (the only hotel in town). We found out there was no electricity until 7pm when the generator starts going, which lasts for a few hours. Alrighty then. Some of decided to go for a little stroll around the place. All the houses are made out of the same white painted clay material and there certainly isn’t any running water in most homes, as the wells were pretty crowded. Used shipping containers and discarded oil drums and industrial parts added to gritty feel. It’s also weird being in a fairly big city that only has electricity via generators. It was easy to get electricity up in the mountain villages in Nepal than it was in this city!
Of course there’s not really a whole lot going in a place like this, but we did manage to find a restaurant to serve us some manti (beef and onion dumplings) and then we headed back. The next day was going to be a long hiking day. Our driver dumped us off at a yurt camp at the base of the mountains and pointed forward, then up and left. Those were the directions. Ok, got it! We milled around the camp for a little bit where they were making some sort of boiled yogurt concoction (which wasn’t bad!) and plenty of cute kids running around to take photos of. Then we were off.
Fortunately I had time to acclimatize by doing some treks in Kyrgyzstan, but some of the others hadn’t, so it was nice to be not getting my ass kicked by the altitude. Murghab sits at almost 12,000 feet, so we were already way up there to begin with. It was moderate uphill hiking for the first few hours, but the pass was pretty tough, as it was all loose scree, which was easy to slide back down on. But after numerous rest breaks we all finally made it up to the top of the pass and enjoyed the views over the mountain range.
And then it was back down on the loose scree and god knows how many hours that afternoon to get to the nearest road, where our driver was waiting for us. It wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable hike during the last part because the mosquitos were nuts. I mean the climate is arid and dry, which doesn’t seem like it would be breeding ground for a jillion mosquitos, but it was! We piled into the car, rolled up the windows, and swatted at anything that moved! And then back for one more night in Murghab.
The next day we were about ready to roll when we found out that we would be switching cars and drivers, as our jeep was apparently having engine problems. Umm, what?! But the new car looked pretty similar to the original one and the new driver spoke more English than the first one, so it seemed fine to me. This did not fly with some of the girls, who made a big fuss over the whole thing, and wanted to call and complain/get money back from the guy we originally booked the tour with. But at the end of the day we already paid everything up front, and it this point there’s not really anything we could do about it. So it was on the road with our new driver, Bobish, and our black Toyota Landcruiser, and new playlist of Tajik and Russian music!