From Dushanbe to Tashkent.

Posted: 27/10/19 | October 27th, 2019

Last modified on: March 27th, 2020 at 15:26

From Dushanbe to Tashkent. On the road from Tajikistan to Uzbekistan with a brief stop in Khujand. One of Central Asia most ancient cities.

 Day 1 – Dushanbe
After a good evening with a proper steak and some beers it felt good to be in a city again. After taking it easy in the morning Elisa, Haig and I went out to explore the bazaar of the city. Tom was take care of all the necessary visas for his onward travels.

Local bakery in Dushanbe.
Local bakery in Dushanbe, baking the traditional bread found in Central Asia.

The local bazaar was very organised, unlike most bazaars in Central Asia. This one was in a new building, surrounded by stores as well. But after a while we got hungry and we found a restaurant in the bazaar.

Bazaar in Dushanbe.
Bazaar in Dushanbe.

Bazaar in Dushanbe.
Bazaar in Dushanbe.

After the food we walked around the bazaar for a bit and then headed out into the city center. But soon the heat was killing us and we found refuge in a bar for some cool drinks.

Since this day was very hard on us (hmm) we went back to the hostel for a quick shower. Since Haig was going back to Brasil the next day we went out for one last dinner. Rest of the evening was spend on getting full on Schaslick and beers!

Statue of Ismail Samani, a former ruler of the area in the late 9th, early 10th century.
Statue of Ismail Samani, a former ruler of the area in the late 9th, early 10th century.

Colors in Dushanbe at Night.
Colors in Dushanbe at Night.

 Day 2 – Dushanbe
Unfortunately saying goodbye to people a part of traveling as well. After breaking the rock that cut our tires in the Pamir highway so that each of us could take a reminder. It was time to say goodbye!

In case you mist our Pamir Highway adventure:

An epic roadtrip on the Pamir Highway – part one. 
An epic roadtrip on the Pamir Highway – part two.

Tom had some more visa stuff to arrange, but Elisa and I were so lazy that we spend the entire day at the Hostel. Watching the new season of the Peaky Blinders. Before we headed out for dinner we found a very cool USSR gift shop where we bought some very cool soviet era posters.

Posters bought at an USSR souvenir shop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Posters bought at an USSR souvenir shop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Satisfied with our new purchases we found a nice pizza place and called it a night.

 Day 3 – Dushanbe – Khujand
Remember Elyias the mechanic? The guy that replace our car several times during our Pamir Highway adventure:

He was staying at the hostel as well and was heading out to Osh today and offered us a ride to Khujand. But first he had to drop of a car in Panjikent (3 hour drive single way). Saying goodbye to Tom who was going to Panjikent we went back to sleep. Since Elyias would pick us up at 1 o’clock, we had plenty of time. But 1 o’clock become 2, 2 became 3 and eventually 3 became 4…. After fueling up the car and trying to leave the city it was 5. But hey, the ride was free.

Central Asian drivers are generally quite reckless, but ours was off the chart. Driving a worn out suited up 4×4 as fast as he could. Driving like he was a formula 1 driver but with the skills of a 3 year old. This was gonna be exciting.

After a few hours we arrived at the tunnel of death, called the Anzob Tunnel. A 5 kilometer long tunnel, without any lights and ventilation. This tunnel was scary to say the least. Filled with smog and no lights it was like driving into a dark hole.

Anzob Tunnel aka Tunnel of Death in Tajikistan.
Anzob Tunnel aka Tunnel of Death in Tajikistan.

However Elyias didn’t think to much of it and continued driving 100+ kmh to make up for lost time. Overtaking cars as fast as he could (in the tunnel).

After 20 minutes we saw clear skies and felt some fresh air again! The crazy driving kept going and after a few near misses on mountain passes he was getting tired and ask me to drive. I drove the remaining 2 hours to Khujand in the dark. Of course in the same way of driving as he showed me……(or not). We made it to Khujand alive!

 Day 4 – Khujand
Khujand, or Leninabad during the USSR is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Dating back almost 2500 years. At one time it was the most northern outpost of the Greek Empire. Also it was an important city on the Silkroad trading route. Now a city with little charm or tourist sights. To be honest the only reason why we visited was because it was on the way to Tashkent and we had some time left.

Since it is a Sunday we decided to check out the local bazaar. Yet another nice bazaar with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Sunday market is also an animal market, this time for poultry. It’s safe to say they have different standards of animal well being in these parts of the world. Horrified by the conditions of the animals in the market we made our way to the square overlooking a few mosques.

Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.

Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.

Animals at the sunday bazaar in Khujand.
Animals at the sunday bazaar in Khujand.

Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.

Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Sunday bazaar in Khujand, Tajikistan.

The main sight in the city is the Fortress, which is rebuild and not that spectacular. A pretty shitty museum is in the basement and we would definitely not recommend anyone going there.

Fortress in Khujand, Tajikistan.
Fortress in Khujand, Tajikistan.

A former USSR city wouldn’t be complete without a Lenin statue. This is the biggest Lenin Statue in Central Asia and used to be in the city center. When they government wanted to move it to it’s current position they did it in total secrecy. In the middle of the night they started to dismantle and relocate the statue. Since a year before protests began against taking the statue down.

Nowadays Lenin watches over a green park on the outskirts of the city.

Biggest Lenin statue in Central Asia, Khujand Tajikistan.
Biggest Lenin statue in Central Asia, Khujand Tajikistan.

Khujand was a weird city, but interesting to see for a day. A city with so much history, but without any real traces.

 Day 5 – Khujand – Tashkent Uzbekistan
Today is Elisa’s birthday and  that needs to be celebrated!!! By going into a new country: Uzbekistan. This meant however that we had to say goodbye to the beautiful Tajikistan. We got on a small bus in the morning that would take us all the way to Tashkent (supposedly).

Arrived at the border quiet fast, but that’s were all the fun began (or not). The border checks were super fast and soon we had our new stamps. However the bus was not allowed to cross the border into Uzbekistan. Apparently they changed buses in the morning resulting in the bus that we were on not being let into Uzbekistan. Luckily there were a few guys on the bus that spoke perfect English and they updated us on the situation. But no one really knew what was going on.

One of the guys managed to contact the bus company. Since all the conversations were in Tajik we couldn’t make much of it. He exclaimed that the bus company SOLD US!!!! All of us. What happened was that the driver had paid another company that was allowed to cross the border to take us to Tashkent. Soon they found out it was Elisa’s birthday and all of them started laughing, clapping, cheering and felt a bit sorry for her. But stuff like this happens when you travel. Luckily we were in good company and enjoyed some ice cream in the sun.

After almost 4 hours of waiting we got on another bus finally taking us to Tashkent.

Fancy Hotel in Tashkent.
Fancy Hotel in Tashkent.

As a birthday present I booked a nice luxury hotel for 1 night and enjoyed a good steak and some beers. A nice change after hostel dorms and guest houses.

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