Warning- this blog post will give you no insights whatsoever into travelling in Tajikistan, it's just my personal start full of inane detail. Read on at your peril....
Up at 03:00, out the door 03:30.
Win 1- Big, heavy unwieldy pack is checked all the way through to Dushanbe, no need to reclaim in Dubai.
Win 2- Qantas Club let me in at 04:30 (despite my Emirates boarding pass).
Win 3- Window seat with 2 empty seats next to me.
Then I lose.
Having gloated about not getting the virus that ran through our household last week, at the 5 hour mark of the flight my throat is tickling. Slightly worried. By the time we get to Dubai I have a full on killer headache. I had pre-booked a room at the Holiday Inn Airport Express nearby rather than hang around the airport for 10 hours- so glad for that now. Caught shuttle in the 50 C heat to a damp, mouldy room where by now I have a 9/10 headache, nausea and chills. Very worried. For 5 hours, loaded up on Panadol, I sleep fitfully, then have a boiling hot shower
before heading back to the airport. Less worried. The headache has dropped to a 3/10, the chills are gone and even though my nose is running like a tap I know that I can confidently get on the next plane (sorry to anyone sitting next to me, sorry, sorry, sorry). A further 3.5 hrs at the airport gives me access to cheap cold and flu pills and overpriced coffee and croissants (how does anyone afford Dubai?). People watch and use free wifi- it's a great show, such a melting pot of an airport.
Win 4- Another entire row to myself, sleep for 3 hours and 20 mins of the 3 1/2 hour flight.
Welcome to Dushanbe!
Follow the crowd to Arrivals. Join the Foreigners queue. Note that I don't seem to have the little white form that everyone else does. Leave the queue in search of said white form- completely run out- not a single blank one at any of the 3 counters behind arrivals (but a hundred or so semi-filled in ones, complete with names and passport numbers). Try to ask someone (that looks like they may speak English) if they know where I can get
one- an older English guy (plummy accent, briefcase) is very dismissive- no idea. An official looking person (wearing a big hat) emerging from a small office says it's OK to fill one in later on the other side... Hmm, OK, at any rate I rejoin the queue when thousands of new forms are dumped on the desk that I have just come from.... leave queue, get form, re-join queue. It is about now, with my white form firmly clutched in my hand, that it becomes evident that there is no actually queue.... pushing from multiple directions towards a window is that actual strategy of moving forwards. As I am now in the "sort of queue-but not really a queue" another flight arrives and it is suddenly absolute mayhem! Two large Russians and their not as large son do a lateral queue cut while several others attempt it from my other side. Despite my best efforts the Russian family and at least 5 others reign supreme. Meanwhile in the non-foreigner queues there is a shouting match going on...
Finally..... I am at the front of the queue. Stamp, stamp, out I go to the baggage scrum. Same deal! Find luggage,
find trolley and join "sort of queue-but not really a queue", strategically attempting to block queue cutters with my trolley- exhausting stuff! This, however, changes when a big boss official turns up to create order, banishing several queue cutters to the very, very back of the "sort of queue-but not really a queue". Then just like that I get expelled into the Arrivals hall.
It is now 03:30 and my driver, Shorukh, will be there waiting to rescue me.
He is not.
Wander the arrivals hall for 10 mins and no sign of Shorukh. I need a strategy, I don't have a SIM or any money. What to do? ....I am ultimately successful in miming to a kiosk person that perhaps he could call the driver's number for me. Luckily for me kiosk boy is persistent, he calls Shorukh 10 times before getting an answer... he delivers, what I think is a spray, to Shorukh and smiles at me triumphantly. Thank you kiosk boy. Head outside in the balmy 04:00 air, deflecting taxi guys until Shorukh rocks up apologising that he slept through his alarm. We are at Marina's Guest House within 15 mins (Perth time now
08:15). Creep upstairs- it is a beautiful faded mansion off a tiny alleyway and through a big gate. Cannot wait until morning to see it! Fall into bed for 3 hours sleep.
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