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Photographer's Note

I bet quite a few TE members will think this is not really a travel photo and should not be posted on the site at all. And yet, this is what my first day in Tajikistan looked like and this is the view I admired for hours – the landscape with a blotch of a wing mirror in the middle. Yep, that was my day, from just after midday, when I left the airport in a slick Toyota Land Cruiser, complete with a professional and smart-looking driver.

Those of you who know me better, would, I’m sure, at this point exclaim: “What on earth was she doing, picked up from the airport by a private hire with a driver?” Whenever possible, I choose public transport, shared taxis, chicken vans and fifth class train carriages. You really get to know the local people in those means of transport, the cheaper the better. If I do hire cars I drive them myself (and sleep in them too). But on this particular occasion I was in a hurry. I wanted to reach Khorog as soon as possible because I had to make arrangements there for the next leg of my journey and I didn’t have much time. I will explain this later.

The road to Khorog is murderous. Minimum 13 hours of sitting on your bum. More than half of that on dismal roads. But it is an epic drive and I would love to, one day, return in a self-drive rental car and do it over several days with many photo stops.

For over 300 kilometres the road runs along the river Panj, in an awe-inspiring mountain corridor, one of the most beautiful river canyons I have ever seen. It is known as “Opium Highway” as that’s where certain goods travel from Afghanistan, through Tajikistan, to Russia and Europe. You are required to hold a special permit to enter the area and travel along that road. On my first night in Tajikistan I watched that amazing landscape unroll before my eyes, painted in velvet black and bathed in silver moonlight. I didn’t take any photos, and they wouldn’t be good photos anyway. But it got etched in my memory and will stay there forever.

Several days later I endured that drive again, in the opposite direction, this time in a shared taxi, with 9 other passengers. Again, there weren’t many photo opportunities - the drivers push on as no one wants to spend longer than 13 hours driving if they don’t have to. But at least I had an opportunity to see the mountains in daylight. And I did take a few photos, two of which I will include in WS.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1349 W: 6 N: 2485] (14055)
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