Climbing "Roof of the world"
Day 1. "Discovering"
Day 2. "Formalities"
Day 3. "Earthquake"
Day 4. "Seven lakes - seven colors"
Day 5. "True delight"
Day 6. "In the name of Iskandar the Two-horned"
Day 7. "City of parks"
Day 8. "The native land of the President"
Sketch about the tour around Tajikistan, almost infinite travel on the "small-big" country, from the north to the south, from Fergana valley to Pamir, from the blue and quiet river of Syr-Darya bearing the plentiful waters through the city of Khujand in the north to storming, roaring and muddy Panj (Pjandzh) - the natural border with Afghanistan in the south, from a measured life of handicraftsmen of Kulyab to severe high-mountainous living conditions of people from Pamir.
Tajikistan is a small highland in the south of Central Asia. The deep rivers which are flowing down from spurs of Pamir, very tall mountains, cities with a considerable quantity of trees and colors, hospitality of people, beautiful and racy ones, the traditions kept from times immemorial, paths unexposed by tourists - all of it can leave indelible impressions from your travel.
In July, 2011 two experts of OrexCA.com, together with the Tajik partners organized tourist's-expedition across Tajikistan, having set as a target not only passing, learning, filming and marking the route, but also opening it to travelling world by creation of online photo and video gallery enlightening facts which weren't known before.
The Tajik language is very close to farsi (Persian) - Tajiks and Iranians easily understand each other. In the north of Tajikistan, in the city of Khujand , where we have begun the travel, the knowledge of Russian is rather extended and many people thanks to neighborhood with Uzbekistan and a considerable quantity of the ethnic Uzbeks living there speak Uzbek and almost all of them understand it. In Khujand the overwhelming majority of signboards is in Russian, in Dushanbe - in Tajik and some in Russian, in other places - only in Tajik. Writing in the country is in Cyrillic and that is certainly comfortable for Russian-speaking visitors but less - for other ones. However in high-mountainous Khorog we have been pleasantly surprised because very many of (basically) few inhabitants of this small town speak both Russian and English (!). In summer the weather is hot in flat zones, also decreases at lifting mountains, considering snowfalls on high-mountainous passes.
So, any travel begins with idea. We bore idea of our tour across Tajikistan for several years, and did not know how to figure it out, until our business partners from Tajikistan supported it and initiated tour around the country, across many removed and mounting places which corners even these natives haven't seen before. Certainly we without the slightest hesitate and without false modesty accepted this alluring offer and immediately started preparing for the trip. The first day was accurately defined, however the last one was lost and varied as nobody knew precisely - how well and for how long passing Pamir will take being the culmination of our forthcoming travel and old dream of the author of these lines. This uncertainty of plans gave a special extreme and zest to the forthcoming trip.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have visa regulations and our preparations began with the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan where we came July morning and were a little confused by an abundance of people in front of the Embassy (about 200) and total absence of any queue by turns. The overwhelming majority were, apparently, inhabitants of Uzbekistan countryside as there were aspired to get to neighboring country during "the Season of weddings". Having broken forth to the policeman standing from the interior of gate, we introduced ourselves as tour operators (that, in general, was close to the truth) and were led to the consul - a polite young man, curiously asked us some questions then we went to another room, filled in some questionnaires and already at 17.00 the same day received passports with visas. Cost of consular fees varies, as we have been told that it was from 5 to 40$, but at filing documents nobody is informed about the cost and finds it out at reception. For us the visa cost 10$. There was inscription on the information board that visas are given during the period of either 1 day or within 2 weeks, however, considering our case and that at reception after dinner in the crowd which besides gathered in front of the Embassy there were already familiar persons from the morning crowd, the embassy does not use the prerogative of long disposal of legal proceeding. All foreign tourists pass without turn and are given out visas within one day which is a very good touristic-focused policy. For the majority of the developed countries (there apprx. 80 of them in the list) there is a simplified visa regulations - i.e. the invitation from the Tajik side is not required to their citizens. People from Russia and the CIS countries (except Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) have visa-free entrance.
Day 1. "Discovering"
The road from Tashkent has begun with a small area at Kuylyuksky market where taxi charges 25000 Uzbek sum (10$) to drop to the international boundary post of "Oybek". Here, under the preliminary arrangement by phone we were met by a handsome and cheerful guy-Tajik whom, according to hospitality laws, our Tajik partner asked "accompany visitors to make sure that everything is fine". So this guy arrived to Tashkent from Khujand on business in the afternoon the day before. It took us one hour of conversations and information interchange sound like "And you? And we …". We marked the distance of 82 km on speedometer. The post works twenty-four-hour. Apparently taxi drivers as well. At the post we expected about the same chaos which participants we were at the Embassy several days earlier, but here we were pleasantly surprised with total absence of any queue (however, according to eyewitnesses, it is better not to take it into consideration as they say it is diverse every time). We have passed formalities quickly and cheerfully and here … our feet not tired at all and still full of energy step on the land of the Republics of Tajikistan!
"Welcome to Tajikistan!" - Very benevolently greeted us a moustached officer of a frontier service, handing in our passports. At once we were met by our Tajik boss - Bahodur ako and we have begun our travel to the Sogdijsky area named "North" in Tajikistan. Yes, yes, it is well-known that Tajikistan is a small country, however here again there is a division into "north" and "south", and as it has appeared - still both mental, and dialectic, both economic, and political … But will not be about the politics - it's not tour operators' deal.
It's not too long to drive from the "Oybek" post to the city of - about 60 km.
Khujand is second for the size and located in the north of Tajikistan, administrative centre of Sogdijsky area, divided by the blue and wide river Syr-Darya - absolutely different both by color and width unlike the one we used to see in Syr-Darya area of Uzbekistan - muddy and already merely shallow - fruits of unreasonable irrigation...
According to Wikipedia, the population here is 155, 4 thousand inhabitants (2009), however Khujand people assert that soon their city will have million people - and for whom to trust after all!?. We heard repeatedly during excursions and in stories of guides in different places that it is one of the most ancient cities of the Central Asia.
The left-bank part of the city is both administrative cultural centre and old city with the Soviet architecture of different post-war epoch and mahallas. There is a lot of greens, advertising, little shops and offices - the last three criteria show obvious intensive development of small and average business on which rates of development the North (according to "northerners") leaves the South behind (by the way, such situation is usual for many countries with similar division, for instance Spain).
The right-bank part consists of 34 micro districts of the Soviet construction where here and there modern buildings are observed as well, many of them are under construction.
We stopped in the fine new house of Bahodur where we were led to our room. Besides dastarkhan already covered and served we liked design and furnish - the room was decorated in national style - walls are covered by "saman" plaster, Betty lamps and chandelier made from the varnished snag - made by Bahodur ako. Children of the owner, with curiosity glancing at us, by turns served us tea, then dark, "devzira" plov, then plentiful fruit, accurately cut melon and water-melon …
This marathon, or better to say "belly holiday" finished only with appeal of the owner to go on survey of sights, first ones in the list were the offices of the companies of our "boss" scattered around the city, engaged in various kinds of activity - building, real estate, tourism, a jewelry store, a drugstore … Some moment we have lost count, and then came the time to cool down, we went to the Kajrakumsky water basin - a huge artificial reservoir on Syr-Darya, thirty kilometers from the city. On one side behind there are territories of Kyrgyzstan where in small settlement under the name of Kistakuz there is local "Las Vegas" with casino, focused certainly not on the countrymen of Kyrgyzstan living in this district, but on hazardous inhabitants of Khujand (casinos are forbidden in Tajikistan, as well as in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan).
Having swum a lot, dived from a typical Soviet catamaran and having had supper with the excellent fried carp cooked by employees (employees!) of the "Impulse" company in a teahouse ashore we returned to the city.
The pedestrian walk around evening Khujand was a fine ending of the first day, allowed to memorize all in mind and formed a basis for sound sleep. We passed some parks, a fortress, a central square with a theatre (used to be named after Pushkin, and nowadays named after Kamoli Khujandi). Here our attention was involved with the huge Roman she-wolf established on a pedestal with the twin-brothers reaching "tits" - you have to agree that this is unexpected and not typical for Central Asia.
It has appeared that the fresco representing the she-wolf feeding two babies was found by archeologists in the fifties of the last century in a palace of the king Devashtich, in the mountains of Bundzhikat - vicinities of Penjikent. Subsequently the fresco has been taken away to the Hermitage where it is kept nowadays - in fact this is the destiny of the majority of the true rarities and treasures found in Central Asia.
When came the time to drink something, it was found out that in Tajikistan you will not find neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi; but here we have learnt that there is a world brand ¹ 3 - "RC cola" launched here which tastes a little different from Cola and Pepsi.
Evening walk proceeded on quay of Syr-Darya along the main square, khukumat (city hall), passed through the cascade of beautiful fountains, a recreation park and... Here we sleep a powerful dream in the house of Bahodur .
Next day >>>
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