Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Non-sightseeing tour

Ismail Samani, founding father of the Tajik nation
Am I jinxed? This afternoon was free so I thought I'd take a stroll to unlock the tourist secrets of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Fat chance of that. I had a sneak peek at the Lonely Planet pages for the city and it revealed there were two museums worth investigating and that was about it, except for the odd statue/monument and bazaar. Not known for my shopping instincts, I refrained from the latter and headed to the former. The Bekhzod Museum was fifty yards from the front door of our hotel but the doors were firmly padlocked and not a sign of life. The museums are supposed to be closed on Mondays only and this was Tuesday afternoon. So something was amiss. I turned on my heels and headed up the tree-lined boulevard known as Rudaki, seeking out the prize tourist attraction of the National Museum of Antiquities. I found it easily enough but again the gate and front doors were locked and no-one about to ask why the darn thing wasn't open. Now this is getting silly. Undeterred, I headed north on Rudaki so I could get the large statue of Ismail Samani in my viewfinder, regarded as the father of the Tajik nation. A policeman offered to take a photo of me and the statue and then, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, asked for cash as he had done me a favour. I told him I was a cash-starved tourist and walked away with his refrain, "mister, mister" ringing in my ears. Policemen asking for cash is all-too familiar for someone living in Cambodia, so I wasn't going to jump on that particular merry-go-round. A quick look at a few buildings and fountains but with my afternoon stroll plans in tatters, I decided to head back to the hotel and cut my losses. Plus there's bugger all else to see in Dushanbe. I don't recommend you add it to your 'must-see' list anytime soon.
Myself and Ismail Samani
The current Tajik president doing a stint in the fields, in a suit

The Anyi Opera and Ballet Theatre

Nice classical building opposite the Samani statue, home to the Foreign Ministry

The Firdausi National Library - closed, like everything else

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