A Wet Day in the Second City

Khujand Travel Blog

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Entrace to Panchshanbe Bazaar with mosque, medressa and mausoleum of Sheikh Massal ad-Din across the square

Halim and I slept in until about 11am, finally waking up to cloudy skies and light rain. It was a slow and short morning and we didn't make it out to lunch until about 1:30, but at least I was showered and clean-shaven and happy about a change of clothes. We headed to Yunus, Halim's favorite cafe just down the street and had soup, plov and tea before taking a marshrutka downtown. After visiting several drugstores and the air ticket office, we went to the Panchshanbe Bazaar, Khojand's premier market. It was across a large square and two mosques. We walked up to the second level where we had an excellent view of the mosques and the outside tents below. The ceiling of the bazaar was also painted in bright colors, which seemed to be popular in northern Tajikistan.

Inside the covered Panchshanbe Bazaar
Around another passageway, we were able to look down from above at the great indoor bazaar where vendors sold vegetables, fruits, spices and dry goods. We fought our way through the crowds and down some stairs to the spice section where I bought some spice mixtures for a couple somoni.

Outside it was still raining as we crossed the large square and prepared to walk back towards Halim's apartment. On our way we passed several Soviet-style monuments and statues. Halim took me to a fairly new museum on the Soghd region, where we had to slip on denim booties and traipsed across the slippery marble to see the exhibits. Most of the museum was made of marble, including an entire room on the first floor (basement) that depicted scenes from Alexander the Great's battles.

Soviet monument and eternal flame
In an adjacent room were painted depictions of life in various epochs of time. Upstairs the centerpiece was a large marble globe that was visible from below as well, and a statue of a Tajik national hero. Around the room were chronological exhibits of different rulers and leaders from the area. It was clear by looking at the maps why Tajiks were so upset with their neighboring country (and Stalin for drawing the boundaries). Their historical territory was quite vast but most upsetting is the fact that Samarkand and Bukhara remain in Uzbekistan. What's worse is that the Uzbek government has made it difficult for Tajik citizens to visit relatives, friends and gravesites in a place that had no real borders in the Soviet Union.

By the time we left the museum, the rain had picked up.

Me with stone Bobo at the riverside park
We walked along the remnants of the old citadel, whose eroded walls were protected by modern brick walls and now used by the military, at least preserving the original purpose. Oddly placed next to the old city walls was a children's playground with Disney-like characters made of stone. About 100 meters further was the Syr Darya river and a 150-meter long bridge where we proceded to get soaked. We crossed to the other side and avoided a huge puddle on the road, finally reaching Halim's flat where we dried off and relaxed.

Halim appeared from the kitchen with a syringe and a wild smile and said "drugs," but he was only joking. The syringe contained some oil that he planned to use to lubricate the squeaky door, a kind of Tajik WD-40. In the evening his brother, nephew and brother's mother in law came over. Halim cooked us a delicious dinner of pasta, meat and potatoes and with it we had some carrot salad, pickled green tomatoes and kimchi. The rest of the evening we just lounged around, recovering from the wet day, and watched satellite television before retiring early, still tired from the previous night's extravaganza.

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Entrace to Panchshanbe Bazaar with…
Entrace to Panchshanbe Bazaar wit…
Inside the covered Panchshanbe Baz…
Inside the covered Panchshanbe Ba…
Soviet monument and eternal flame
Soviet monument and eternal flame
Me with stone Bobo at the riversid…
Me with stone Bobo at the riversi…
photo by: hauteboy