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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Into Tajikistan...

I thought I would wirte a quick to post to say that I have reached Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

I got in here late Tuesday evening after leaving Kabul early Monday morning. I took a flight to Mazar e Sharif as the Salang Tunnel which links the two cities in eight hours is closed to most traffic, forcing a 2 to 3 day detour. Russian planes are scary.

I stayed in Mazar for one night after taking some time to see the shrine in the middle of the city. From Mazar I took a taxi first to Konduz and then another to the border. To cross the river at the border I took a ferry and after passing through the Russian and Tajik checks on the other side, took two more taxis to get here to Dushanbe. The Russians were a real rag-tag bunch...conscripts make horrible 'soldiers'.

Dushanbe is like other reasonably large former Soviet cities and is much like both Bishkek and Almaty, as all three cities have tree-lined avenues. Unfortunately there were some really bad mudslides here recently so the water everywhere is an ugly brown colour. Other than that, the city is quite pleasant though small.

Priority number one is avoiding the police with their goofy satellite-dish hats, 'small-dog' attitude, and pointy shoes with extra large heels. I remember passing an hour or so in Baku two years ago watching the impotent police force try to pull over speeding cars. Maybe I'll get some food from the supermarket here and find some particularly dumb looking police so I can sit down and eat lunch with a bit of comedy.

I was granted a seven day transit visa for Tajikistan, usable within a nine-day window. That nine-day window is up this Saturday so I will be getting into Uzbekistan that day.