Downtime in Dushanbe

A long weekend in Dushanbe is probably enough. Ten days is almost certainly too much. During our stay here we have thankfully managed to secure our onward visas, which should in theory see us through tothe Mediterranean. This time hasn’t quite been long enough though, to fully understand this capital city. We now know that Dushanbe proudly boasts the world’s tallest flag pole (161m), suffers fairly frequent (minor) earthquakes, and belongs to one of the few countries to have avoided invasion by the English at any point in its history (details here). Beyond this however, the chequered past of this country seems to have resulted in a bit of an ambiguous present

Visa success, thanks Kazakhstan.

Tall and proud.

The former Soviet influence still dominates the city of Dushanbe; wide streets flanked by largely bland grey concrete buildings, and of course an abundance of enormous statues depicting historical leaders, Gods, sorcerers and the like. Add to this the spread of western capitalism, albeit a unique take on it, throw in a recent civil war over the desire to become an Islamic State, and the result is today’s Tajikistan. We have been warmly greeted by many proud locals eager to practice their English and hear of our story, but we have also been a little disturbed by some of the seemingly reprehensible characters darting around in fantastically expensive cars with blacked out windows, and without any apparent concern for the law. It seems a fairly odd dynamic – both in the capital city and the rest of the country – but one which most people seem quite content with.

Statues: the Soviets did them well.

WacDonalds anyone?

Overall, Tajikistan has been kind to us; delivering some incredible landscapes and some great people, and it is a place that will certainly warrant a return trip at some point. Tomorrow we head towards Uzbekistan, which is apparently as hot as the sun at the moment.

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