Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hiking with Hassanboi

May 18, 2013

Unfortunately, after our trip to the waterfall, it was A’s turn to fall ill with the stomach bug. B was still under the weather, and N wasn’t feeling too hot herself. Somehow I was the only one feeling healthy, and I had a rather uncharacteristic amount of energy. N and I walked into the center of the village for the purpose of buying juice, water, and toilet paper for the boys. We also bought a bucket. There was only one pit squatter at our homestay, and we were worried that there might be a time during which more than one of us needed to make use of the facilities, as it were. Walking into town and back pretty much drained N of what little energy she had, so she decided to stay home with the guys.

I set off on my own with the goal of hiking to the panorama. Five years ago when K, J and I hiked to thepanorama, we hiked to it from the waterfall. We found the route difficult and spent much of the time wondering if we were going the right way – although we did make it there. This time, I hiked up past the waterfall but could not find any sign of the trail J, K and I had taken five years ago. There was a track that went in rather the opposite direction, but thinking that it might wind its way up to where I needed to go I took it. The trail definitely wound its way upward, but in a decidedly wrong way laterally.

Eventually a local boy (he turned out to be 17) came hiking along with his camera and we started talking. His name was Hassanboi. He had been born in Arslanbob, then moved to Tyumen in Russia at the age of three where he lived for six or seven years. As such, his Russian was excellent (not everyone in Arslanbob speaks Russian) and we were able to actually chat. I asked him how to get to the panorama, and confirmed what I had begun to suspect: I was going in completely the wrong direction. Hassanboi said that as he was meeting friends not too far from the panorama he could show me the way there. Unfortunately the way to the panorama from the spot at which I encountered Hassanboi essentially involved going straight up one side of the mountain (all the way to the antenna on top) then back down the other side.

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Hassanboi leading the way

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I took this just to prove that I made it to the base of the antenna.

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In case you're curious, the red circle outlines the antenna as seen from my homestay.

When we reached the actual road to the panorama (albeit from the opposite side than I’d intended to approach it) Hassanboi directed me to remain on that road, saying that it would take me first to the panorama and then back down into the village. He went off in one direction in search of his friends, and I went off in the other, heading for the panorama. The panorama (as the name suggests) is a wonderful place for viewing the village of Arslanbob, the valley, and the surrounding mountains. I could see my homestay’s tapchans across the valley (quite clearly through my long lens) but alas, none of my companions were out there, having all apparently returned to bed.

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The building in the center has the homestay's tapchans.

After photographing the view I sat down and had a picnic of apple juice and chechil, which is where Hassanboi found me about half an hour later. Apparently his friends had already gone on, and he was returning to the village. He offered to accompany me to make sure I didn’t get lost. The road/track went directly into the village (and it is not located past the waterfall at all, haha – it’s the last “road” to the right BEFORE you get to the waterfall). I doubt I could have gotten lost following that track home from the panorama by myself, although given where he’d found me, Hassanboi probably had a pretty poor assessment of my navigational skills.

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Along the way we met up with the father of one of Hassanboi's friends.

After thanking Hassanboi and returning to my homestay, I utilized the bucket for washing laundry (no one had utilized it for anything else, and I needed to wash some clothes), and then spent the remainder of the day relaxing.

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