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Published: September 7th 2015
Onward to Dushanbe, and again it's going to be a shared taxi for the 13+ hour trip. Luckily there were two Swiss girls in the same homestay who were also going, one of them had been in Tajikistan for three months on an internship so her host family were able to arrange a driver to pick us up and by paying for an extra seat we were able to avoid some of the regular joys of travel here. Strangely by avoiding the normal negotiating, waiting, detours, and overcrowding it felt like we'd cheated a bit – we need to have some strong words with ourselves !!!
Dushanbe is a bit of an odd place that seems to be trying to ignore the rest of the country and reality. It has wide tree lined boulevards, big new grand buildings – like the multi-million $ library that has few books and no internet access, well manicured and watered parks, a law about only clean cars being allowed into the city, and a couple of the biggest-in-the-world things – a flagpole and teahouse. It all feels out of place in a country where many are without basic sanitation, electricity and decent roads –
one of the main reasons why the cars are so dirty in the first place.
Once we'd sorted our Iranian visas we headed off again, inevitably in yet another shared taxi, toward Khujand and the border with Uzbekistan. As with every other trip the journey was peppered with “security checks” which seem only to involve the police checking that the banknotes the driver has passed to them are securely slipped into their own pockets. The amount of low level everyday corruption is incredible, it's difficult to imagine the scale of what must be happening higher up the food chain when things like government contracts for all those fancy new buildings are being handed out. It might be at least part of the reason for the big shoot out in Dushanbe on the morning we left – good timing on our part.
Next up the notoriously difficult border crossing into Uzbekistan.
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