Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Tajikistan is one of those few (very few) countries where I have not even spent a single night. The other ones are Liechtenstein and Ö I think that is all.
The reason was the war, and I was not allowed to reach the capital Dushanbe, and even was denied the visa.
Being very disappointed for that refusal, I decided at least to visit a small portion of the country, on my own way. Then I asked to the local people in the bus station of Samarqand and I was told that not far from there was the border with Tajikistan and still further I could arrive,by changing buses, to the town Panjakent, at about one hour ride.
I woke up very early the next morning (4.30 AM) and took the first bus to the border. The soldiers were half sleeping and did not pay much attention to the passengers and I passed unnoticed (the same would happen in my way back late in the evening).
There were not passport controls. I was wearing an Uzbek cap, my clothes were local (and little dirty, like the localís) and I had left my beard grow for two weeks. Furthermore, I could speak Russian if any questions, because not every Uzbek can speak Persian, and they often use Russian with the Tajik for communication.
I kept silent in the buses. Somebody asked me something in Tajik but I replied in Russian saying that I could not understand him.
I finally arrived to Panjakent. In spite of being a modern city with ugly soviet era blocks, Lenin statues and the like, the people still ride horses and donkeys in the streets, and its market is as exotic as the one in nearby Samarqand, which is located next door to the Bibi Janym mosque.
Most of Tajikistan territory is mountainous, and Dushanbe, the capital, means Monday because of the weekly market in the past in this town.
After visiting for a few hours the ruins of the old towns dating from the Sogdian State period (Panjakent means Five Cities) and its exotic market, I headed to the most famous museum of the country, devoted to Rudaki, the celebrated Tadjik poet (presumably he was blind), father of the Persian poetry (Tajik language is very close related to the Dari in Afghanistan and to the Farsi in Iran).
The museum consists in two parts; the less interesting is the one dedicated to the Bolshevik Revolution with all its propaganda. The best is the second one, called Natural History, sheltering endemic animals preserved by taxidermy and the flora of the country, all illustrated with wonderful wall maps.
Date posted: July 2013
Have you been to The Site of Ancient Town of Pyanjekent? Share your experiences!