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Should you have plans to go to Tajikistan some day, you surely want to travel well informed. Don’t worry, Ed ver van zijn bed is coming to the rescue. After reading this article you are as thoroughly prepared as humanly possible. Here are five facts you need to know about Tajikistan.
Tajikistan really is not just one country, but two. The region Gorno-Badakhsan or short GBAO (not to be mistaken with GBOA) where we passed through first makes up 45% of the land area of the country and is autonomous. This is why you have to reserve an extra page in your passport for this area (Pamirs). Besides you will pass a military checkpoint regularly where you will be registered.
Tajikistan is a muslim country. According to the always well informed Americans the population here is 98% muslim. Apparently their Sunnis, but from a very flexible branch because the’re not even a bit as fanatic as their neighbors in Afghanistan. For example less than half of the women, by my estimation, walk around with a headscarf and all in all, counting every single one, we saw just 1 (one) burqa shamble by. We do see skirts, tight shirts and uncovered shoulders. On top of that pork is, just as alcohol
and drugs, widely available. That’s probably why they’re all so nice, see next fact.
3. Irritatingly Nice People
When we walk the streets or into a restaurant people, wether appropriate or not, shake our hands. They welcome us to Tajikistan, they’re interested to know where we’re from and if they can help us with anything! Here in the capital city Dushanbe, where we are now, there’s a police officer posted on every street corner. And if they see my foreign license plate invariably I am pulled over. Only to tell me that my car is dirty and to wish us a pleasant journey. Today they even offered, for a price, to escort us with sirens and everything to an address we were searching. We’ve seen a different approach elsewhere.
4. Opel Astra
Tajiks displace themselves collectively in a Mercedes Sprinter. The most important means of public transport which they call Marshrutka. If they are in the fortunate position that they are the proud owners of their own car than this is an Opel Astra, because you don’t need a drivers license for those (OK, I made up that last bit). Trust me you see them literally everywhere, and usually a bit too late.
5. The President
If you’re not driving through the Pamirs (GBAO, see fact 1) you’ll see a big billboard with a picture of the president, who has been the leader of this country since the beginning of time, on the side of the road every few kilometers. In these photos, made by somebody with very poor photoshop skills, he usually waves at his german friends. If not, a product from the region where you’re passing through was photoshopped into his hands.
Bonusfact: Filthy Rich
Since the beginning of this year the price of gold has risen spectacularly. Good news for the Tajiks, who can because of this call themselves the richest people in the world by a (s)mile.