The highlight of today has to be how we managed to find a hotel, and parking for the truck, in Dushanbe. Our plan was to find the Sheraton Hotel as our base in Dushanbe, and on paper this looked easy. It was marked on our GPS map and was mentioned in the LonelyPlanet. So we go underway at a good time from last nights camping spot, and successfully jousted with the crazy traffic all the way into Dushanbe confident that we had a place to stay - the only issue would be (we thought) the price. And indeed we managed to get to the right place andpark right across the street from the hotel - BUT it was still (and is still) under construction. No guests yet - and it seems not for a while.
So what to do now? While we were standing on the curb discussing what our other options where a young man driving an informal taxi pulled up and asked (in sign language) if we needed a taxi. After some "discussion" we got into the taxi thinking he was going to take us farther down the street looking for a hotel. But infact we called someone who spoke Engish, and who happened to be the manager of an innercity hotel. So after about 10 minutes driving we finished up at a place called The Hotel Kayon, a nice mid level hotel. The manager showed us a grassed and gated area beside the hotel building where he said we could park. So the same taxi driver took us back to the truck, and then led us (Nina in the Taxi and me in the truck) back to the hotel. In the meantime the manager had discovered that we could not park on that grassed area but we could park infront of a gate on the otherside of the hotel. So that is how we got to our camping place in Dushanbe.
We spent the afternoon getting some money, groceries and generally cleaning ourselves and our clothes after our Pamir Adventures.The "downtime" gave us a chance to reflex on our recent travels, and maybe also a little on Tajik drivers. I hope at some point Nina will write a short piece on her reaction to the driving practices of Tajiks. As to our Pamir Adventure we are still a little stunned by the sheer spectacle of the roads we have driven, the scale of the natural features, and the communities we have passed through. The drive from Osh (in Kyrgyzstan) to Dushanbe (in Tajikistan) surely must be one of the great mountain drives in the world - or at least one of the best we have experienced. As a driving experience (particularly in a truck) it is incredibly tough, I have found it very demanding, at times a little scaring, always exhilirating. But now I am looking forward to some easier roads for at least a little while.
The Hotel Kayon nicely located for exploring the city as it is only a block from the big garden/square at the top of Rudaki Street. For Overlanders with bikes or normal sized vehicles there is plenty of fenced parking. For high vehicles (like ours or other smaller motorhomes) the gate prevents entry. But the street is quiet at night and parking in front of the gate seems secure. The manager Sharif speaks good English and we found him very helpful in arranging things like a vehicle service.