Murgab, Tajikistan | 1 October, 2006 | $8.75
Murgab is the main town on the Eastern end of the Pamir Highway near the Tajik, Kyrgyz and Chinese borders. We arrived in Murgab around lunchtime and our driver took us directly to the police station where we were ushered into a concrete office with a man in full uniform. We spent two hours in the office being threatened with jail before my travelmates gave in and decided to pay the $15 bribe to settle our OVIR (police registration) stamps in our passports.
Although our driver had a friend he wanted us to stay with we decided to stay at an official homestay which turned out to be incredibly nice. I slept in what seemed to be a dining room (next to another traveler who I’d never met before) and the other two slept in another large room. Most people in Tajikistan sit on the floor, hence the lack of furniture. This house had a gorgeous outdoor “shower.” It was more of a sauna, really, with wood floor slats and a large hot coal stove. We were instructed to take one bowl of cold water and one bowl of boiling water, mix them and then pour them over our heads. We hadn’t showered since Dushanbe and it was heavenly.
This home also had a outhouse on its property. Although it was only a small shack with a hole cut out of wood floorboards it was much more luxurious than anything we’d used in the past week. I came down with either a case of food poisoning or more likely altitude sickness?Murgab is at nearly 12,000 feet (3,650 meters) and we drove through passes higher than 15,000 feet?so I spent most of my time curled up on those floorboards. We stayed in town two nights, waiting until my Kyrgyz transit visa became valid. The price included two meals a day and the owner spoke a touch of English.
Here is a video I took of our driver while we were delayed at the police checkpoint before entering Murgab: