Viloyati Sughd

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15 travelers at this place

  • Day201

    A day in Khujand

    November 12, 2019 in Tajikistan ⋅ ☀️ 5 °C

    Staying at a large family, consisting as so many here out of grand parents, daughters and/ or daughters in law, whose husbands are working in Russia and of course their children plus children left with their grandparents whilst both parents are living in Russia, i stumbled across an intreaging piece of furniture: a narrow cradle with a hole in the middle. I found out that at least small babies don't wear any nappies, and that hole solves the soiling problem. For boys there is a pipe like contraption that gets attached to their little penis, unfortunately they did not have the equivalent for girls in the house, and everything gets diverted into a container attached to the bed. To keep the baby in situ they get tied down with silky straps.
    Well, saves a lot of nappies and washing.
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  • Day185

    Quiet days on the lake

    October 27, 2019 in Tajikistan ⋅ ☁️ 2 °C

    Whilst waiting for my Car parts I decided to drive to Iskander-Kul, a lake high in the Fan mountains. To get there from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, we had to drive up a pass which is particularly interesting as you have to travel through some really mean tunnels, the longest being 8km. I am not easily intimidated but when leaving the bright sunlight and driving into this pitchblack tunnel, no or hardly any lights, no white markings, drains along the wall, no ventilation, therefore very Smokey and the environment swallowing any light, that is quite scary. It is noted on the map as "dangerous tunnel", which may give you the gist. It was definitely worth the while driving this road.
    And then through quite spectacular mountain scenery on a dirt track eventually you reach the opal blue mountain lake. Stunning color!!!
    Here I am, nobody else on this lake at the end of the world, apart from myself and my co-travellers, who arrived a day later, and you assume nothing is going to happen apart from some hikes.
    But low and behold one afternoon there was a fashion shoot, the next evening we were invited to a BBQ à la tajik, (oh, never again vodka,) and one morning we were woken by a huge herd of Yak being driven past our vans making their grunting yak noises.
    Unfortunately I had to get back to Dushanbe sorting out my car business.
    PS: ithe caption ruins every picture., particularly that photoshoot one which has a fairytale quality to it. Therefore the caption here: it was a very cold day, and the poor girl had to pose in sleeveless dresses. A hard job...
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  • Day201

    A warm Welcome to Uzbekistan

    November 12, 2019 in Tajikistan ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    First day in a new country is always quite busy, you need to sort out car insurance, SIM card, perhaps money if you were not able to do this on the precious country, a was the case this time. I did not find a bank in Tajikistan that would hold any Uzbek Som as the currency has been deregulated. In addition to that I needed to refill my gas bottle. I just had to exchange my Mongolian bottle in Dushanbe as the regulator was leaking. And for whatever reason it was already empty. Strange!!! And scary.
    Whatever. In the first larger town I entered in Ubekistan I saw a shop sign saying "Kredit ...", so thinking it was a bank I stopped, only to realize, this is no bank but a shop you can buy things on credit. Not what I wanted. So I ask the man standing next to me, where was the next Bank. Oh, I have taxi here, I drive you there. Cheeky bugger I think, thanks, but no thanks. The next person I ask shows me the direction. Off I walk and I walk. .. this cannot be right, so I ask a lady coming my way. Yes you come with me she signs at me, so I turn around and walk with her in the direction I just came from. Just where I have parked my car she makes an attempt to gently shove me in a group taxi. This are teeny little vans, about half the size of mine, in Australia they would seat 6 max, here you get in 8, with some good will 10 people and a carpet for good measure. I mean what are Windows there for, if not to open them and stick the carpet out sideways. I put up some resistance, don't I have a single Som to my name, and the driver wants some money for sure. So a big debate ensues. There comes a man to my rescue who speaks English, and to him I am able to explain my predicament, just arrived in U, have no uzbek money, need bank to change, taxi is to bring me there but needs to be paid for. Can't finish telling him my car is just parked over here, please tell me where bank is, I can drive myself. He briefly talks to the driver, the driver nods, they push me into the taxi. But... "No money" I say, "Taxi free" he indicates and off we go. And go and go. How am I going to find my Car and Rex again, quickly a pin set on Google earth, and go and go. Finally the taxi stops, "this bank", I say many "Rahmats", thank yous, everyone laughs gently, hands on my shoulder oh, she speaks Uzbek, I laugh back and off I go into the bank. Long cue at the counter, but I am osistently pushed to the front. No waiting for this foreign lady. I am sent to another counter, where again I have the privilege of jumping the cue and 5 mins later I have money in my pocket. Feels better right away.
    But now, how do I get back??? Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I put myself at the roadside and stick out my thumb to the first grouptaxi that comes my way, it promptly stops. I jump in to the excitement of everyone already in there, and off we go. Loud music, a lot of chattering and at a speed faster than to my liking but did I enjoy this little trip! Should do it more often.
    Next stop SIM card. Nothing remarkable happening here.
    Now back to the car and looking to get my gas bottle refilled.
    Most cars in Uzbekistan are driving on gas to the extent, that petrol and particularly diesel is really hard to come by. In all the other countries I was able to get my gas bottle refilled at fuel stations that as well had gas for cars. So I thought it would be as easy as driving up to one gas refuelling stations, but no such luck. It's Methane not Propane they drive on. So where do I find Propane? No one really knows, just some approximate direction on the map. So off I the drive trying to find propane. One thing here is driving and looking for anything when cars are coming at you left, right and center in the oriental fashion, the other thing is deciphering the Cyrillic writing., but eventually I see a gas bottle sign which I follow. But unfortunately this is a workshop where they retrofit cars for gas use. I tell them what I want, but, no, they cannot help me. So a lot of palaver again, people running here and there, I am told to wait, which I do, being of obedient nature. Eventually a man comes, asks for my bottle, tells me to follow him, opening the pass3nger door of his car, suggesting I enter and off we go, driving through the whole town, 15 mins at least it seems and voilá, here we are at the propane refilling place.
    This was my first day in Uzbekistan. Is there any better way for a acountry to introduce itself to me? This boundless preparedness to help in these Central Asian Countries is so heart warming. I know I am repeating myself, but these experiences will have a lasting impact on my life and attitude to people needing help.
    Managed to get some sightseeing done as well that day. First impressions of the glorious architecture of the Uzbek cities along the silk road.
    When visiting the Jami Mosque Museum in Kokand instead of the expected serenity I was greeted by a pop concert, featuring several Uzbek singers. What most impressed me was how these ladies in their long dresses and head scarves got up and stared dancing and enjoying themselves. Unfortunately I could not capture this moment, too far away.
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  • Day209


    October 30, 2019 in Tajikistan ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    Ein wundervoll gelegener See umrahmt von bis zu 5000m hohen Bergen. Wir verbrachten 4 Nächten an dem türkisfarbenen See namens Iskanderkul. Am letzten Abend kamen Einheimische und sie luden uns zum Dinner ein, es gab Lamm und für mich als Vegetarier gab es Tomaten Salat und eingelegte Gurken und Zwiebeln und frisches Brot, alles sehr sehr lecker. Die Gespräche waren gut. Am Tag zuvor waren wir wandern und fanden am Strand Spuren von einem Bären.Read more

  • Day23

    Tajikistan, an Overview

    August 15, 2018 in Tajikistan ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

    Seeing the wifi was close to non existent in this country, blogs were mostly kept for myself. But I have some general thoughts to share, so here goes :


    Tajikistan. The name alone sounds intimidating to me. For half my life, Americans have been at war with a "stan", and I've been taught to beware - big words like Taliban and ISIS come up with mention of the "stans" when in North America. And despite being somewhat well traveled, countries of more conservative Islamic culture and Muslim faith are mostly unknown to me.

    Central Asia has never been on my list of top destinations. Truth be told - I didn't even know there was a country called Tajikistan until my partner announced she was going. But Tajikistan it was. In my mind, I started shaping it to be this big intimidating monster of the unknown. One that I thought my gender ambiguity, tattoos and gauged ears would make of me a target of some kind. Or at the very least, invite negative reactions.

    Because I hyped this trip up so much in my mind as something I should be intimidated by, it took me a few days to really open up and fully enjoy this adventure.

    In all honestly - I've never crossed more generous, polite, genuinely nice people. My partner, who is not new to conservative Islamic countries, had told me stories of the generosity that is part of the muslim faith and culture, but it took me being here physically to really understand it.

    Everyone I cross, everyone, says "Salam" while placing their hand over their heart. A genuine hello, not the usual yelling of "hello" in a mocking tone by children I'm so used to hearing in many other counties. Everyday we are invited at least once into someone's home for tea, if not multiple times. But a tea invitation isn't just that - within minutes of sitting in someone's home, a buffet of plates are served with candies, nuts, dried fruits, whatever foods they have to offer you. And if you happen to be passing around meal time, they will gladly serve you a plate of whatever they've cooked without you asking for anything. And the bread. Boy do they like bread here, breaking of these huge pieces of bread and placing them in front of you, expecting you to finish it all. And they insist that you keep eating - as if hunger has no end. Being full just isn't an option.

    Their generosity is seen in so many other ways - our transport van (taxi-ish) from Khurog to Qurgonteppa (which ended up being 14.5 hours long) had to change a flat/deflated tire five times while on the road - and every single time another car passed by, it stopped and their driver would come out to help change the tire. And the people in this other car, usually also paying customers of a transport van, quietly waited while their driver helped our driver with the tire. Every single time.

    We were invited to a wedding celebration and the 2 men who spoke decent English (out of likely over 100 guests) came by to introduce themselves, explain the festivities around us, and make sure we had enough tea and food around us to enjoy this wedding.

    We were toured around Istaravshan by car by two bankers, showing us their favorite sites, walking around the newly constructed citadel, all with the soul purpose of encouraging tourism for their city.

    I've never felt more welcomed as a tourist. It's sad to say that my instinct when someone invites me into their home, or wants to lead me somewhere, is to be guarded, and assume there will be some kind of catch. A charge at the end? A scheme? Something. This instinct comes from the many countries that I've traveled and that do, unfortunately, see tourist as an opportunity for their own personal benefit. Tajik people have changed that for me. I don't have to be on my toes when I'm being offered something, they see me as a guest in their country and want to be the best hosts (as someone has explained to me along the way). And this has been the exact impression left on me - I was hosted throughout my stay in Tajikistan, and it was lovely.

    And yes - my look does attract the usual longer stares... Stares that are often filled with confusion. But these stares end up being more from curiosity - at first trying to figure out my gender, often followed by conversations amongst themselves about what they've concluded on my gender, quickly followed by "how can a women have such short hair? Or tattoos? Or ears like that?". None of which actually made me feel judge. Most people would end their starring with pointing to their ears and giving a thumbs up, as if to say they like my gauges.

    North American culture has taught us that staring isn't polite, that we should avoid prolonged eye contact with strangers. I'm quick to look to the ground when around strangers. But one is quickly reminded that many cultures around the world do not see staring as a faux pas. It just isn't a thing. And lengthy, eye to eye contact, and head to toe scanning, is perfectly acceptable. Looking like me simply means you have to accept the staring and try to understand it as a study of the unknown, not a judgment. After all, I'm in their country to do the same - study an unknown culture.
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  • Day20


    August 12, 2018 in Tajikistan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Such a tiny little town you weren't even on our trusty Maps.me. Both our guide books (Central Asia Lonely Planet and Tajikistan Bradt) had a single little paragraph on Veshab, but just enough to entice us.

    These few lines in the guide book said Veshab was 47km away from Ayni, the central transport hub. Who knew 47km meant 2 hours! I guess we should have known, having seen the road conditions on the Pamir Highway, but silly us - we thought this would be a quick little jump over to a small town before finishing our journey in 2 larger cities. FYI - we paid 50 sumoni each for this ride, which I actually think was slightly over priced, which translate to roughly 6.90$CAD, for 2 hours of a ridiculously bumpy ride (confirmed by hotel owner - this ride should have cost 15-30 sumoni,ouch!).

    After we communicated to our taxi driver that we want to be dropped off at the tea house (using "chai" as the Tajik word for tea, followed by putting our hands together to form some kind of roof), we were brought to "downtown" Veshab - which consisted of one closed tea house, a single shop, and then houses. All along the mountains were these picturesque mud houses, surrounded by greenery, with the sounds of a spring making it's way through town. Green is always a welcomed sight in Tajikistan, considering how dry and rocky their mountains usually are.

    As our guide book only had two suggestions for sleep - either a home stay (usually organized from the tourist agencies in larger cities, which we obviously didn't do) or staying in the back of the tea room (which is apparently closed), we needed to improvise so we wandered into the shop and hoped for the best. We asked the man and young boy behind the counter "Mex-ma-hona?" (guesthouse) in our best Tajik with our hands in the air as if to say "where?". They both nod their heads no. We ask again. The nod no. We aimlessly point towards the town then laid our heads on our hands asking where in town can we sleep? And they point to the closed tea room across the street. We may have needed to organize this ahead of time. But low and behold! Another man pops in and says "hotel?" "Yes!" "yes, yes, here" he replies. Wait a minute - your two side kicks sent us away, and you're saying this is a hotel? Sure enough, he signals us over to a side gate, we follow in, he shows us 2 large rooms, one of which was mostly empty except for the usual pile of floor mattresses in the corner, and the other of which had a ridiculously elaborate buffet of food laid out. After we agreed on a price, which was 15$USD for both of us, for two nights, he invited us to sit at the buffet table.

    There were at least 20 plates laid out in front of us; fruits, nuts, candy, mini chocolate bars, even bottles of pop. He brought out bread and tea, and as we filled ourselves up with everything in front of us (big mistake), his wife brings in a potato and beef dish with a full bowl of their soured milk / yogourt thing. Do these people not know how little I usually eat!? Wanting to be polite, I forced myself to eat almost to the point of being sick, and when I signaled I was done - I was told to keep eating.

    The lovely wife of the hotel and shop keeper asked us if we wanted to go see some dancing (basically pointing to us, pointing to her eyes, then shaking her hands like dancers here do). We could hear some music from where we were sitting but didn't know why. So naturally, we followed, despite being exhausted from a long day of transport and hiking (2.5 hours of hiking in the morning, 6 hours of transport), likely not looking or smelling our best.

    A short walk brought us to a wedding celebration which seemed like the entire town was in attendence. We quickly saw the segration of men and women, and stuck with our hotel lady who stood in the crowd of women surrounding a grassy patch of land which I can only imagine will become the dance floor. That is until a women popped by and grabbed Jack and I by the arm and motioned to follow her. A quick look at our hotel lady for the approval to follow and we were whisked away to a table of seated women. A VIP table it seemed (which we were later told the tables were for out of town guests with invitations). Of course we were served bread and tea and later a full plate of food despite my many attempts to say we quite litteraly just ate at the hotel. So again, I make an effort to eat out of politeness, almost starting to resent this forceful eating.

    After a few speeches, the music starts, and dancers emerge from the crowds. Women at one end, men at the other. It's refreshing to see that not all men (seemingly heterosexual considering the strong Muslim beliefs) in the world act like it would be the death of them to show affection to one another, and dance together. Two men approached us with an introduction that sounded like "hello. How are you? I speak English if you need help". It was clear they both wanted to practice their English, which we welcomed. They helped us understand why the bride and groom, who were in a booth like elevated box, were continuously bowing up and down for what seemed like an hour - they were showing respect to their family members by doing so. They looked so incredibly bored compared to the rest of the crowd now either dancing or joyfully looking at the people dancing. One of the English speaking men, who runs a guesthouse in town through a tourist agency, even decided to take the microphone and say a speech on our behalf, in English, thanking the 2 Canadians for attending these festivities and welcoming us to their town. I both felt nauseous from the amount of people looking at me (social anxiety to the max at this point), and felt warmed that he would go to such lengths to make us feel welcomed. It was an amazing experience and one that, despite our dirty clothes, was memorable.

    The next day in Veshab consisted of walking through residential alleyways, constantly saying "Salam" with a hand on our heart to everyone who passed, we were guided around town at first by one of the shop keeper's boys - brought into his school, shown a poster with "English speaking countries" which included Canada (only 5 were displayed, which surprised me that Canada was part of it), he mostly would yell out English words that he remembered from school which we would then try to figure out considering the poor pronunciation.

    This being a relax day, we spent an hour in our room expecting to quietly read our books but I ended up spending this hour with this same boy, his friend, and their English learning school book reading English words, with me trying to show them correct pronunciations while miming the word so they know what it means. It was a tough game of charades and English class mixed together.

    All in all, small town with lots of character. A must stop in Tajikistan, if you ask me.
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  • Day34

    Islanderkul See

    August 29, 2019 in Tajikistan ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    265 Kilometer, 11 Stunden unterwegs

    Am schönen blauen See auf 2.200 Meter Höhe treffen wir ein paar Mongol Rallye Teilnehmer. Während ich mich um die Bezahlung kümmere, redet Anni mit einer Gruppe aus der Schweiz. Die Jungs kommen uns gerade aus Turkmenistan entgegen. Das Gespräch sorgt für etwas Angst vor diesem Land. Die Leute haben mit dem Auto 250 US$ für die Einreise bezahlt und 250 US$ für ein jämmerliches Hotelzimmer. Auch davon abgesehen steckt ihnen die Angst vor diesem Land noch immer in den Knochen. Was da wohl auf uns zu kommt und ob unser Geld reicht? Auf jeden Fall müssen wir jetzt einige Geldautomaten finden, die uns Dollar ausspucken.

    Am Ende des Sees mitten im Nationalpark befindet sich eine Villa mit Helikopterlandeplatz. Das muss das Ferienhaus des Präsidenten gewesen sein. Anscheinend hat er lange keinen Urlaub mehr genommen. Das Haus war zwar bewacht, aber es sah alles etwas verwildert aus. Damit man sein Gesicht beim um den See fahren nicht vergisst, stehen auch hier riesige Werbetafeln mit seinem Foto und einem klugen Zitat am Rande (das verstehen wir bloß leider nicht).

    Unser erster Schlafplatz aus der App war mittlerweile umzäunt, weswegen wir ein paar Kilometer weiter fahren mussten. Hinter einer Ruine fanden wir schließlich einen angenehmen Platz. Mit Fertignudeln beendeten wir den späten Abend.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Viloyati Sughd, Sughd, Согдийская область

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