Rushan (Рушан) is at the heart of quintessential Pamir country. A ribbon of inconsequential, potholed dirt track threads into town from the east and from the west, overflowing in parts from upland streams and so close to the Pyanj River at other junctures that an extra surge of floodwater looks likely to lift it away. It requires considerable imagination – or an oversized Chinese truck advancing from the other direction – to remember that this is the Pamir Hwy, the major artery through Gorno Badakhshan.
The town itself is also quintessential Pamir – little more than a sliver of houses amid cultivated fields that seem impossibly wedged between roaring river and vertical cliff. Edged with poplars and tinged with springtime green, it shouts out to be visited. With a homestay, bazaar and some shops, it makes a gentle base from which to visit the Bartang Valley or simply overnight in typical Badakhshan.