A long finger of Afghanistan reaches north east up the Wakhan valley to the Chinese border creating a 10 mile wide buffer zone between Tajikistan (formerly part of the Russian Empire) and Pakistan (formerly part of the British Empire).
This relic of the great game draws lines on the map which do not reflect geographic or cultural reality. "We are all one people in these mountains" as one local said. He added "I have been to London. People there were so kind. People everywhere are the same".
The ride up the valley was beautiful. This is not the main road to the border so there is little traffic coming the other way. The absence of lorries means there are few pot holes so riding is easier. Easier as long as you stay out of the sand that is.
Tonight we stayed at a home stay sharing a large room and sleeping on the floor. The people here have nothing and sharing their life for an evening makes you realise how wealthy we are in the west. For all the poverty though, the children are clean and smartly dressed for school in black dress and pinafore for the girls and black suits for the boys.
Education is important here and it shows.