I am in surprisingly good spirits, considering. Considering what, you might ask? Considering that my bum was in agony all day, given the open sore on its right side. Considering that my tent is full of gritty sand that blows in every time I open the door, given the incredibly windy and sandy state of my suboptimal camp spot. Considering that I have contracted Giardia, given that my efforts to treat all the water I drink has failed to weed out that nasty intestinal protozoan parasite that I got to know well while in Nepal.
Yes. I have Giardia. Again. It took one disgusting burp in the night for me to realise I once again have to do battle with the bug. This burp gave immediate sense to the painful stomach aches, diarrhoea and gas I have been afflicted with in recent days. I hardly slept last night due to painful bloating and due to worrying about what I was going to do come morning. Fortunately, Langar has a doctor in residence and when I was led their by the little boy from my homestay, I was immediately welcomed in and seen to. I simply had ‘Giardia’ and ‘Metronidazol’ written down on a piece of paper. I showed this to the doctor, who retrieved a box of Metranidazol tablets, explaining in Russian or Tajik how I was to take them. I paid a whole AU$1.50 for the service. Experience tells me that the medicine will have an immediate effect, so I knew that if I wasn’t feeling absolutely terrible, then I could probably manage a day on the bike. This realisation had me momentarily disappointed that I didn’t have an excuse to lie in bed for a day, but when this feeling passed, I got on with the tasks at hand, packing my things, saying bye to the lovely family that hosted me for the last two nights, and returning to the slow grind of riding rough roads.
My stomach largely behaved itself, though of course I haven’t felt 100% all day. I was happy to find that the riding was not as tough as people had made out as I made my way out of Langar and headed west. Sure it was incredibly slow and annoying, but it wasn’t necessarily difficult. I decided I didn’t really like Vrang when I was stopped by a guy and told I needed to register my passport and pay 10s to continue. I initially went along with his request, parking my bike and waiting for someone to open up the little building next to the road, but I soon realised the guy was drunk and the idea of registering and paying money a farce. I tried brushing the guy away and continuing on, but he refused to let me move, grabbing hold of me and bike. The disappointing thing was that there were other men around, including a soldier, but none intervened when I appealed to them for help. In the end I had to forcefully push him aside and charge down the road.
During the day I passed an Argentinian cyclist called Arthur and then a trio of cyclists comprising two male Spaniards and an American girl. The reputation of all three had preceded them: I had heard that the Spaniards were strong and that one of them had rowed across the Atlantic, and I had heard that the American girl has been in Tajikistan for a while, running all kinds of laps around different routes. I was surprised to discover that they had also heard about me, referencing the fact that I had an ‘incident’ in Sary Tash and that I was perhaps carrying more gear than anyone else in the Pamirs. I was excited to hear that Ishkoshim was much closer than I’d thought and more importantly, within reach of tomorrow. I had originally planned to spend tonight at BB Fatima hot springs, but feeling sick encouraged me to ditch this idea and instead push on past the turnoff and beat a hasty path for Ishkoshim and Khorog, where I will have a nicer time managing both my bum sore and my Giardia. I decided to call it a day around 5pm when I came across a long sandy climb, my progress though which was no faster than a slow walking pace, owing to an incredibly strong headwind. Camping options were slim, hence me choosing this crappy spot hidden from the road by a rocky sand dune. For once I didn’t feel like cooking anything for dinner (my appetite is diminishing due to the Giardia), so it was by choice rather than stove issues that I just ate some of my snack food. It’s very nearly dark and I am looking forward to a better night’s sleep than last night.
|Distance ridden today||54.58km|
|Average cycling speed||9.4kph|
|Total distance ridden||20,175km|