We are in a small cold corrugated shed that is the Tajikistan border immigration office. Looking out the small dirty window we watch the snow falling heavily and inside the immigration officer is clearly very uncomfortable with the fact that our printed evisa sheet of paper does not have a Dushanbe (Port of Entry) stamp.
He keeps showing us his pile of tourist evisas that are all dutifully stamped and he cannot see how he can let us go. To his credit he is not asking for a bribe, he is just being too diligent. It is our fault that we had the wrong piece of paper when we arrived in Tajikistan but we had a digital copy to show them on the iPhone (which of course they didn’t stamp) and then we had printed the right version once at the hostel.
45 minutes later we solve his dilemma by writing and signing an explanation on our unstamped visa and we welcome exiting into the blizzard outside for the ride into No Mans Land.
It is 20km to the Kyrgyzstan border but we are only planning to go a few more kms. We set up camp during a break in the weather and by late afternoon the snow is falling heavily and we keep having to clear the tent surface every hour so it doesn’t build up too thick. Luckily by 10:30pm it has stopped and I am saved from having to get up and clear it yet again, and we can turn the hourly alarm off!
Next morning the rich red muddy road is at least clear of snow but it is a greasy ride down to where the broken asphalt starts. We hear later that Katrin and Sven have a harder time of it sinking in deeper with their narrower tyres and heavier loads and their mudguards pack solid with the mud.
No Mans land finishes 16km from camp at the Kyrgyzstan border. We have transitioned in very short space of time/distance to green grassy hills dotted with seasonal yurt camps and the most common creature on 4 legs is now a horse.
The border town of Sary Tash is a welcome site and we get a warm welcome at the pink Tatina Guesthouse on this grey day. We don’t welcome the case of the runs which flattens us for the next day but fortunately we hit it with the right drug and surprisingly we are able to make it to Osh over two days and a couple of very stiff passes.
After a month over 3500m we are now down at less than 1000m and it is hot, damn hot, 35 plus degrees hot. We are staying at the TES Guesthouse with air con, big rooms, comfy beds, great en suite and big breakfasts. The purse is taking a hit at $17 a night each – not!