Day 88 (1): This is not a dip sauce

Penjikent Travel Blog

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The car, which the guys lovingly dubbed "Rosie" (as in, there's a whole lot of it)

Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Tim & Wim (Belgium)

When I told one of my friends I would be travelling to Tajikistan on this trip, she replied "Tajikistan? That is not a country! That's a dip sauce made with yoghurt and garlic and cucumber!"
Well, I am here to prove her wrong. Tajikistan definitely is a country and there's no yoghurt with cucumber in sight!

When I got up this morning I was quite excited to be leaving. Finally the desert landscape would be making way for mountains, as I was heading for the first of the mountain ranges which will eventually lead to the Himalayas. I had picked up my clothes from the laundry and they were the cleanest they had been in a while. It really felt as if I was starting a new trip today.

The road into Tajikistan
Not in the least place because I would be travelling with Tim and Wim in their van for a while. Tonight I wouldn't be sleeping in yet another hotel or hostel in some city with ancient buildings, but instead we were planning on doing some wild camping in the mountains somewhere midway between Samarkand and the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe.

The Belgians picked me up with their car and I immediately loved their vehicle: a 27 year old Volkswagen LT31 - a van modified to camper van, complete with kitchen and fridge. Absolutely brilliant, and in fairly decent nick too, considering they'd only paid 1500 Euros for it. Sure, there was some rust on the exterior. And then some more. But the engine ran smoothly and every modification inside worked - the fridge, the cooker, the heater (do we need that?) and all the cupboards and closets full of pots, pans, groceries, clothes and even a complete library.
Tim behind the wheel
In the words of Tim & Wim: if you're travelling with a three-tonne van, you might as well pack it full.

On the excellent music installation they played the albums of the book '1001 albums you must here before you die' in chronological order. What a great idea to do. This way you don't have to worry about which music to play and you are guaranteed of nine months' worth of music. When I joined the guys they were listening to 1975 - not the worst year in the history of music, me thinks.

The border crossing went fairly easily. Exiting Uzbekistan they had little interest in our hotel registrations (a mandatory nuisance in this country) or the vehicle. Getting into Tajikistan it took a bit longer to register the vehicle, but even still this was a lot faster than most other countries, Tim said.

First views of Tajikistan
Watching and comparing the border posts of each country was shocking. The Uzbek side, consisted of several concrete buildings and the usual big elaborate gate. On the Tajik side the passport and customs control were located in small construction shed.

And so we entered a new country. As often, it immediately looked like a different country as soon as we crossed the border. Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and this was immediately noticeable from the quality of the road, which deteriorated rapidly.

The people looked different too. Many women wear Hejab (though not all) and almost everybody seemed really excited by seeing foreigners, as many would run towards the road as soon as they spotted us, waving and shouting.

We had left Samarkand quite late, as Tim and Wim had some errands to run for their car.
Penjikent mosque
By the time we got to the first sizeable town of Tajikistan, Penjikent, it was already past 5 pm. We found a surprisingly good tourist information centre in Penjikent. The English lady volunteering here warned us not to get used to it, this was one of only two tourist information centres in the country. She gave us a map and lots of information and off we went again. After some essential shopping at the bazaar (read: cold beers to put in the fridge) we left the main road and headed into the Fan mountains.

Biedjee says:
I wouldn't know, really. I just thought it was a fitting title...
Posted on: Oct 24, 2010
edsander says:
> This is not a dip sauce

Wasn't that a song by Johnny Rotten ? ;-)
Posted on: Oct 24, 2010
edsander says:
When you were travelling with Tim and Wim, did they nickname you Pim ? ;-)
Posted on: Oct 21, 2010
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The car, which the guys lovingly d…
The car, which the guys lovingly …
The road into Tajikistan
The road into Tajikistan
Tim behind the wheel
Tim behind the wheel
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
Penjikent mosque
Penjikent mosque
On the road
On the road
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
First views of Tajikistan
Entering Penjikent - glad to see t…
Entering Penjikent - glad to see …
Standard Soviet statue: apart from…
Standard Soviet statue: apart fro…
Not a bad view from the streets of…
Not a bad view from the streets o…
Penjikent
photo by: Biedjee