22 Aug, 2009
Tajikistan: Day Two
Posted by: Scott In: The Rally
We got a few restless hours of sleep in the car during that night. It got pretty chilly, with temperatures hovering around freezing, so we were pretty cold in the car wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Both of us were awakened multiple times during the night by passing vehicles, people, and of course, the cold. I eventually ended up throwing some clothing on top of me, a travel towel over my legs, and putting my fleece jacket on. Collin went in the trunk to get his sleeping bag out.
We were awakened by Japanese voices. A group of tourists in 4X4’s had stopped around us on the mountain and were taking pictures of the morning sun rising over the mountain peaks. Never one to pass up an opportunity to shock Japanese people with my ability to speak their language, I got out and introduced myself. It appears that they were traveling the same route as we were and were on the way to Dushanbe and then the Pamir mountains. Two of them were from Kyoto, close to where I studied for nine months in 2001. They moved on and we packed up our things and got on the road, this time heading in the right direction.
In daylight and going downhill much of the way, we made it back to where the road split in less than ninety minutes–less than half the time it took the night before. We saw how we had made a wrong turn and headed north on M34 instead of south. We took yet another rickety bridge over a gorge and proceeded towards Dushanbe. The road didn’t get any better than it was the day before, save for some sections of sporadic paving. We ended up climbing a lot of mountain passes, which slowed us down to a speed of 10KMH at times (6MPH). Again, we were frequently met with trucks kicking up dust in our faces which had to be blindly passed on roads not much bigger than the width of the truck itself. Many times all you could do was hope that the dust cloud didn’t conceal a vehicle coming at you in the other direction while you were trying to pass. It was hard to believe that this was the road that led to the capital city of the country! We kept asking people along with way just to make sure that we didn’t accidentally make another wrong turn. Very bad roads, very much white-knuckle driving most of the way. Our driving was halted a couple of times by Chinese work crews that had stopped traffic because of rock slides. There were piles of rocks all over the roads from previous rockslides, and it was easy to imagine rocks falling on top of your car the entire way because of the sheer cliffs composed of brittle rock surrounding you the entire way. The scenery, as it had been the day before, was spectacular however. It took about eight or nine hours to get to the city–far longer than expected. And this was just the beginning of our mountainous foray into Tajikistan…
Pictures have been posted in the gallery.