• This topic has 21 replies, 12 voices, and was last updated 11 years ago by case.
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  • Tajikistan (or any other stan, i guess…), anyone been???
  • Premier Icon hungrymonkey
    Free Member

    highly likely that i’ve got an internship in tajikistan (dushanbe or kurgan-tube) this summer, for 9 weeks.

    unsurprisingly, i’ve never been there… has anyone been? anything i should know? whats it like? are the people nice? i’ll be working in a french organisation…
    i presume its pretty safe?

    i really have no idea what to expect, so would appreciate anything!! (so long as its not too scary…)

    leaving in 6-7 weeks… (if this org ever return my application to the british council…)

    ta!

    Premier Icon BigDummy
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    It isn’t as bad as Uzbekistan. 🙂

    Premier Icon hungrymonkey
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    phew… 🙄

    Premier Icon uplink
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    Premier Icon myheadsashed
    Full Member

    dushanbe has alot of touring cyclists passing through ask about on thorntree.

    Premier Icon Munqe-chick
    Free Member

    No idea but did Charlie and Ewan motor bike through it on The Long Way Round!??

    Premier Icon alexonabike
    Free Member

    Ill be round those neck of the woods this summer…

    I’m on the MONGOL RALLY!! yippee!!

    http://www.thewrongwayround.org.uk

    Premier Icon Ambrose
    Full Member

    tonyplym has been there. Loved it and the people. Raves about the place and the riding too. I reckon you’ll love it.

    Premier Icon crouch_potato
    Free Member

    Always wanted to go- seems fantastically beautiful, interesting cultural legacy being at the crossroads of several “influential” religions/empires/dynasties or what have you, and above all for the sublime mountains in the region. Had a research exhibition into the Tien Shan planned a few years back, then after America started getting frisky with Afghanistan the whole thing was shelved. Would still fancy a trip for some remote riding into high altitude climbing/ski descents… unfortunately getting paid to do it is unlikely (for me) and a holiday is way too expensive.

    Premier Icon hungrymonkey
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    alexonabike, that sounds awesome… always wanted to do that.

    interesting views, thanks… but no-one been???
    any idea on malaria? some say i need tablets, some say not…

    Premier Icon konabunny
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    Check the US CDC website for details on whether malaria is a problem. There is probably a UK equivalent that googling will identify. I have never heard of malaria in Tajikistan (I would have thought the winters were too cold and it wasn’t tropical enough), but I am not a doctor, obviously.

    Premier Icon nicko74
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    Yes!! I spent 3 months a couple of years back travelling overland through that entire region, and am constantly disappointed that nobody seems to a) know where it is and b) particularly want to know about it.

    Drop me a line and I can bore you to tears about it.
    Russian would be useful in Dushanbe; outside there it’s not so common, so worth learning a bit of Tajik, if only hello, bye, thanks, please – I seemed to manage the rest by pointing and asking stuff in Russian.

    Premier Icon tonyplym
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    Did a trip through Tajikistan with a company called RedSpokes (www.redspokes.co.uk) in July last year – started in Dushanbe (Tajik) and ended up in Osh (Kyrgystan), via Khorog, Murgab and the Pamirs. We only spent a couple of days in Dushanbe – impressions were that its a “typical” former-soviet city – wide tree-lined streets, tired buildings and infrastructure (irregular water and power), lots of bureaucracy (were stopped about 4 times on the drive out of the city by local police to “check papers” – and make a small cash donation each time). However, out of the city and you’re into an amazing and beautiful country – very poor people but very open and welcoming – those with the least were the most forthcoming with tea, bread, somewhere to stay. We had a local guide to help us – absolutely essential to avoid lengthy delays at the regular check points along the roads.

    Had fun getting a Tajik visa – had to present in person to the nearest Tajik Embassy (Brussels) – this might have changed by now (were rumours of a Tajik Embassy opening in London).

    Premier Icon hungrymonkey
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    hi guys, thanks so much for that.
    nicko, i think i will drop you a line, thanks! in the process of learning russian… well, i say that, but i just have SO much uni work i really don’t have time unfortunately. i’ll have a phrase book, and hopefully some basics though. i will try and pick up the basic tajik too… unfortunately i leave in about 7 weeks, and have awful language skills at the best of times…

    my internship is through the IAESTE scheme, so i there will be other foreign students around. this means that there are trips planned most weekends to see some of the country. unfortunately time and money restrictions mean that i don’t think i’ll be able to spend much extra time in the country after the end of my stay.

    how common-place is bribing? should i expect to do it? and how much would it be? i spoke to someone who did the same internship a few years ago, aparently her and a couple of friends got locked up for a few hours, cos some papers weren’t quite up to standard… i’m not particularly keen on this happening!!

    AFAIK there is now a tajik embassy in london, hopefully i can do a postal visa thingy, as i’ve exams up-until 10 days before i leave… and i’d rather not get flights before i have a visa…

    thanks again 🙂

    Premier Icon nicko74
    Free Member

    I wouldn’t let the lack of Russian worry you hugely – I knew none when I boarded the plane at Heathrow; by the time I got to Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) I had picked up enough to haggle over the cost of a taxi and took it from there. I haggled mainly in Russian (and you might need to do a lot of that), said hello and such pleasantries in Tajik, partly because it gets a better reaction. I found that Tajikistan was where they spoke least Russian in the stans (well, apart from Pakistan…), but it still came in handy.
    Didn’t know that there was a Tajik embassy in London – 2 years back I had to send my passport to Vienna.

    To be honest round that whole area the soldiers and coppers are always trying it on – within 2 minutes of going to the Metro in Tashkent I’d had 2 coppers pull me over to ‘search’ my bag. I think the key is to know at all times where your passport and main bundles of money are; police have been known to snaffle one or the other (or camera etc) in the process of ‘searching’ your bag. The rest of the time I just played the dumb English tourist – smiling, but doing the ‘I am so stupid that I don’t even understand you demanding a bribe!’ routine, so that it’s just not worth their time hassling you.
    Unfortunately I didn’t make it out to the Pamirs – having gone by road from Khojand to Dushanbe (18 hours for 300km), I was quite happy to get back to the closest thing to civilisation round there (ie Uzbekistan).
    Anyway, rather than bore the pants off everyone else, I can send you everything I remember by email. And Thorntree (lonely planet forum) is an invaluable source of info.

    Premier Icon hungrymonkey
    Free Member

    thanks for all that. i’m assuming the people at IAESTE and/or ACTED (the org i have an internship with) will be helping me out with stuff.
    i’d really appreciate any more info though, my email should be in my profile. i’d love to hear a bit mroe about dushanbe, as i think i’ll be based there. plus any tips on anything not to miss, or things to avoid!!

    Premier Icon konabunny
    Free Member

    “so that it’s just not worth their time hassling you.”

    Having spent a lot of time in CIS/other ‘stans, I agree with this entirely. No-one is going to put a gun in your face and demand a million dollars. Most likely they are going to pretend to read your passport/visa (most cops grew up reading Cyrillic only, so are often baffled by Latin characters) and then pretend to find some problem, and suck in air through teeth with a “ooh, this is going to be tricky for you, it’s going to be a lot of time down the station” type vibe. What they are waiting for you to do at this point is say “ooh, is there any way we can just settle this right here?” and then proffer a wrinkly fiver (or whatever). They will rarely spit it out and name a price. If you have the time, you can simply not bother offering the cash, and they will eventually lose interest and tell you to sod off. Every minute they’re wasting on squeezing dough out of you is another lost opportunity to extort some other sod.

    It’s a bit of a hassle when you’re in a bit of a rush (and can’t be bothered to hang around) or when you’re in the middle of nowhere (and there are no other marks walking by)! Not so bad walking around, but worse driving.

    Premier Icon konabunny
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    ps I am jealous of you!

    Premier Icon nicko74
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    Yeah, I think the only time I got stung by officials was when on the bus from Osh to Kashgar, at the Kyrgyz/ Chinese border. The bus driver was taking something pretty dodgy through the border (we never saw quite what it was, but $100 bills were changing hands), so ‘negotiated’ a deal for faster process through the border, where everyone on the bus paid about £20 in cash as a bribe to this one guy. There were 3 of us Westerners and we were really unsure but went with it. Border crossing still took 10 hours… 🙁

    Premier Icon nicko74
    Free Member

    can’t see your email address, btw Hungry-Monkey on your profile page.

    Premier Icon hungrymonkey
    Free Member

    perhaps it won’t be such a problem then… keep me on my toes though, i’m sure 😉

    sorry nicko, its tamarvin at google mail dot com

    thanks 🙂

    Premier Icon case
    Free Member

    I lived in Kazakstan for 9 months in the late 90’s and had none of the hassle described above. Think I got stopped once by the police the entire time I was there (walking home late at night) and never had to bribe anyone. One trick I did use though was to get local people I knew to buy things like train tickets for me as they would get the “local” price not the “stupid foreigner” price.

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