Altitude sickness took a lot out of me. For nearly a week, I suffered from chest pain, stomach issues, and generally feeling like a corpse in progress. Luckily, descending to a reasonable altitude and spending some quality R&R time in Dushanbe sorted me right out.
Dushanbe is a beautiful city, something which–no offense to the city planners–caught me off-guard as I explored it for the first time. Tree-lined avenues, grandiose government buildings, and pristine parks decorate Tajikistan’s modern, clean capital. Coming from the frontier-esque Pamirs, it seemed like I’d switched countries.
One of my favorite spots in the city was Rudaki Park. Mid-way along the avenue of the same name, the park is a labyrinth of walking paths through beds of blooming flowers. Benches line the walkways, often occupied by affectionate young couples dressed to kill. Decked out in grungy backpacking clothes, I felt like a blight. In the center of the grounds, a beautiful fountain splashes in front of a statue honoring the Persian poet Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad, otherwise known as Rudaki. I’d go by that moniker as well. Though little of Rudaki’s work survives, I think he would approve of the beautiful park which pays homage to him. Tajikistan actually has many cultural ties to Persia, including their language. On the sides of the park are numerous government buildings. To the northwest looms a massive flag, only flapping from the strongest of gusts. I spent many hours over several days just sitting on benches. Listening to the constant noise from the fountains, conversations whispered and shouted, the torrent of chirps from birds at sunset. To keep things spicy, I would switch benches. For someone as weary and frazzled as I, it was just the treatment required.
Dushanbe Pro Tip:
If you’re looking for a good place to stay, look no further than Green House Hostel. It’s a new place run by an awesome family out of their lovely home. Prime location, soft sheets, and helpful staff–not bad for the cheapest option in town! Make reservations through their site to save a little money.
Ask about the good plov restaurant!