23 May. Allaudin-Dushanbe 160 km
We reached the mountain asphalt road running to Dushanbe and savored the giant mountain sights. That day, I was looking forward to seeing the Anzob tunnel.
Brief info from Internet:
Anzob Pass of the Gissar Moutain Range plays the key role in the western section of the Transtajik motor vehicle road. The pass lies 3,372 meters above sea. It will take 1.5-2 hrs to ascend it by means of a serpentine road. The most frustrating thing is that weather conditions seal off the road for vehicles November thru May, implying full stoppage of movements on the Tashkent-Dushanbe road. One resolution for this problem is the construction of a 5-kilometer tunnel beneath the rock. It was commenced in 1989 but ceased in four years, for instability in the country. Operations were resumed in 1999, but funding problems kept construction pace under constraints.
One of my biker buddies described the tunnel as follows: no lights, blackness all around and water up to knees, water dropping from above, cold, rotten or no ventilation at all, as well as bulk truck soot. Locals close car windows and breath through wet napkins, so make sure you grab as much air as you see, breath slow and may pretty well eventually see the light in the end of the tunnel.))
Anzob Tunnel Entrance. Smoke floating outside
And that’s no kidding. People were really suffocating there. I had some thrills before entry too. That bad, I was thinking to bring respirators from Almaty. Tunnel turned out really gloomy – chilly air with smell of dampness and fuel oil. Bulk truck engines sounded like air jets before take off. Some lights in the beginning, darkness all the way through afterwards, so gotta watch out so not to run into some road construction device, like a drilling machine, camouflaged under dust.
Tunnel is 5 kilos long.
More joyous and impressing picture waits for you on the exit from the catacomb, especially long-waited fresh air and giant mountains, of course.
Anzob Tunnel Exit.
Descent from tunnel offers luxury road pavement all the way onwards to Dushanbe. Serpentine turns have exterior concrete tunnels that protect roads from mudfloods and rock collapses. After serpentine road ran through a beautiful valet – river, mountains, respectable looking cafes and recreation centersа. Dushanbe, a not so peculiar community was hot. Took us some time to seek out our guest house address. Locals looked puzzled, cab drivers were noisy but useless. Later, we found it they gave us the old name of the street, as the latter changed its name recently. So, we finally found it. Guest house is owned by Mrs. Maqhbooba and the place is clean, tidy and cozy. First class service!!
We were about to finish lunch when the sun left and rain and hail began.
Rain stopped same way it started, sun came out, and likewise did we, for a tour of the city. City has mainly old soviet five-floors and no newly builts. Found exhibition of Soviet War Photographers in one of the parks. It was dedicated to the Great Victory jubilee celebration. Adri stopped and began to carefully watch those photos. Those photos were strong, like really strong. I felt touched when I thought of the price paid for victory. I did not make any comments. Adri, supposedly, knows all about it and who knows, what if his Father was a Nazi trooper. I felt embarrassed to ask. Adri seemed to have heard my thoughts. He took his glasses off and said: “ My Dad was a member of a popular diversion force, then he spent a long time running away from Gestapo and SS… let us go drink… to victory”.
If you decided to find a place in Dushanbe to eat, drink and have some really good time – go to Rakhat Chaykhana. There, we did not just drink, we got pissed - Hitler Caput!
Rakhat Chaykhana. Dushanbe