Early in the morning I took trolleybus number 4 to Osh bazaar and found the place where the shared taxis leave for Osh. Mentally I had prepared for a tough fight with the assembled taxi drivers over the price, so it came a bit at a surprise that there was a taxi that would take me for 1500 som. The day before I had enquired at a fast food place where a chatty woman spoke English. She had asked her colleagues and the consensus was that it should be around 2000 som. Without much haggling, I accepted the price and got a nice front seat. A bit later two women got in the back and we were off. It was too easy to be true, but it worked like a dream. At a junction west of Bishkek there was a big sign to the left which read Osh, but the driver hesitated and I pointed left and said Osh. After that the road was easy to follow. At the high pass there was a bit of snow but nothing difficult.
We had lunch at Karakol. The driver went out to say his prayers (just as well) and we had manti, the ubiquitous dumplings with mutton, and a pot of tea.
With the last of daylight we arrived in Osh which was nice, because the environment of my hostel was dark, muddy and the hostel itself wasn’t easy to find. It was in one of those ugly Soviet era apartment buildings.
Osh is an old city and traditionally seen as the midpoint of the Silk Road. It is known for the Suleyman Mountain where Babur, the founder of the Moghul dynasty, built a small mosque. It was nice to clamber around and explore the graffiti covered caves that were once places of worship.
Osh was nice but I didn’t spend much time there. In the hostel I met three Japanese who were preparing for Tajikistan and even though I had no idea I decided to jump at the opportunity and see if I could make it work. The Japanese told me that I could get an e-visa for Tajikistan online. So I fired up my laptop and filled out the form. It was more difficult than expected because of the fickle internet connection. Several times I was nearly ready when the session timed out or something else happened and I could start all over again. Then, for some time, my credit card payment was refused, but in the end I was done. Forty minutes later I received an email with my Tajikistan electronic visa attached.
It didn’t look very fancy or official, but apparently it does the trick. The GBAO permit was included and it was a permit I needed because I had to travel through the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Region, a place I had never even heard of before that day.
Before I set off, I wondered around the market and bought some bread and grapes.