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Photo Samples, The Pamirs

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kashgar (Xinjiang, Cina)

 

Without any doubt, the Pamir Regin is my favourite part of Central Asia, in particular the fantastic Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO) of Tajikistan. 200 years ago, it was completely separated from the rest of the world for geographical reasons; in Soviet days for political reasons, and now it's just out of bounds for anyone. No expensive minerals, no cold-war strategic value and no historical monuments, so the floods of mass tourists who have started to invade Uzbekistan tend to stay clear of this part of the world. Very fortunate for us who just love to mingle with frienly locals, and, with the possibl exception of Afghanistan and Iran, these are the friendliest people I have ever met - anywhere on the planet!

As any other photo on my site, all photos are, of course  Claus Qvist Jessen, and don't even think about using them without asking my permission.

     

Venerable Kyrgyz elders from Karakol, eastern Kyrgyzstan, both wearing their traditional hat, the "Ak Kalpak". Anywhere else, such a thing would be used as tea warmer!  Claus Qvist Jessen

How many sheep can you hide in an old Lada? Karakol Sunday Market, eastern Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

"So, what's up, Doc?" Karakol Sunday Market, eastern Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Kyrgyz eagle hunter showing his pride, a nine-year-old female eagle, dressed to kill; eastern Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Portrait of a killer, the uppermost link of the food chain: The Kyrgyzs eagle looking for food.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Got it! The rabbit has been caught and killed, and to prevent other predators from getting to the prey, the eagle covers it with its wings; eastern Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Michael Schumacher go home! Happy youngster on the race; Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Although lots of statues have been torn down, it's still not uncommon to see a Lenin or two. This one is from Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Traditional carpets; Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The inside of a yurt, the traditional nomads hut, at the banks of the pretty Song Kul in central Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

A true Central Asian speciality are the home-made salads, available at any well-stocked market. Here from Osh, the second city of Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Tajik man cutting the vegetables; Osh Bazar, Kyrgyzstan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Fruit Mama and Tajik gentleman; local bazar, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

 Water melons and shopping chaos; local bazar, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Chinese hospitality! In the beginning of the Pamir Highway, the Chinese border is frequently less than 20 yards away from the road; Gorno Badakhshan Autonomos Oblast (GBAO)), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Northern part of the Pamir Highway, just afew kilometres south of the Kyrgyz border; Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), far eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The amazing Lake Karakul, first stop south of the Kyrgyz border; Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The small town of Karakul, named after the Lake and rather Tibetan-looking with the un-burnt mud bricks and the flat roofs - a sure sign that it's not raining around here; Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Local women from Karakul Town; Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Playful kids from Karakul; Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Apart from the mysterious front wheel, this mountain bike looks almost normal, however, 4,100 metres above sea level, you take what you can get. Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Somewhere north of Murgab; eastern Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Late afternoon look on Murgab, the "capital" of the eastern Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), Tajikistan. With 6,000 inhabitants, it's not exactly a big city but still the local metropolis and the place to arrange further transport.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The dining room of a traditional Gorno Badakhshani house; Murgab, (GBAO), Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Traditional housing in eastern Gorno Badakhshan is raw mud-bricks, a proof that it just doesn' rain much here. This house is in Rang-Kul Village, NE of Murgab.  Claus Qvist Jessen

A tame three-month baby of a Marco Polo sheep. When grown up, the horns of the males may reach 2 meters in length - if they were straightened out! Unfortunately, Marco Polo meat is very tasteful.  Claus Qvist Jessen

The impressive scull of the full-grown male Marco Polo sheep. Reportedly, there are still quite a few left in the Pamirs.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Gorno Badakhshan still has a certain amount of nomads, most of whom live in traditional yurts - sometimes very beautifully made.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Going south, the comparatively fertile Wakhan Valley is shared in between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Tajik to the left (north) and Afghan to the right (south). Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Filling the stove in a local village house in the upper Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Ancient fort, perched high upon a small hill; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Donkey walk; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Elderly Tajik gentleman. The embroideries of the hat are distinctly Wakhan, rather than "normal Tajik". Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Ploughing the land; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Sorting the grains from the straws; lower Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Elderly lady sorting out the grains and local worker during the harvest season; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Very local gas station; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

A small street of the Tajik village of Ishkashim, very close to the Afghan border; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Scene from the weekly Saturday market, held on an island in the river in between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. The most colourful experience anywhere in Central Asia. Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

     

A proud Afghan merchant selling home-made basketsware at the Ishkashim Saturday market; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

     

Proud Afghan merchants from the Ishkashim Saturday market; Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

Local medicine man; Ishkashim Market, Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

     

Tjik women at the Ishkashim market. While the rare Afghan woman is usually dressed in complete burqa, the Tajiks are much more liberal and none are covered up. Wakhan Valley;  Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

Afghan hat merchants selling these wonderful Osama Bin Laden type woolen hats during the Ishkashim Saturday market. I even found one dedicated to Ahmed Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance until his murder at September 9th 2001 - 2 days before 9-11. Gorno Badakhshan (GBAO), south-eastern Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen.

Nomads camp, Fanskij Gori (Fan Mountains); Western Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Elderly rider from the Fanskij Gori (Fan Mountains) in Western Tajikistan, one of the best places in the region to go trekking.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Nomad girl, Fanskij Gori (Fan Mountains); Western Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

Tea vendor and tea brewer from a small village in the Fan Mountains; Western Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

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At 2000, the currency of Tajikistan was Tajik Roubles, however, you didn't get much for one of them. This seemingly rich man has just sold a cow for about 100 USD - and got himself two kilos of notes! Since then, the Somani currency has been introduced at a much better rate. Fan Mountains; Western Tajikistan.  Claus Qvist Jessen

     

The greatest show on Earth, the Kashgar Sunday market (Xinjiang, China) attracts more than 100,000 locals each week. Most are Uygurs, such as these gentlemen, and the whole region belongs more to Central Asia than to China.  Claus Qvist Jessen

Chess is a favourite pasttime for the Uygurs in Kashgar, and during the Sunday market, it's not hard to get a qualified opponent. These three players had a hard time trying to beat the tourist (me!), however, in vain. They lost, but not without a hard fight.  Claus Qvist Jessen

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