Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Princess Diana and Dentists in Dushanbe

James peered into my mouth as the dentist was explaining something to him in Russian, as soon as he saw my tooth he reeled in horror. This is not the reassurance that is needed when you are having to have some major dental work on the other side of the world.

The tooth ache had started a week ago when a filling had fallen out and I had been trying to ignore it. Each day the pain would gradually build until it was too painfully to sleep and I had to resort to strong pain killers. I was going to have to see a dentist. I phoned my insurance company to find out what I would need to claim for the treatment. As I explained the situation to the person at the other end of the phone I could hear an audible gulp when I mentioned I was in Tajikistan. "Are you in...........the capital?" he replied "Yes, in Dushanbe" I said helping him out.

We had arrived in Dushanbe from Khorog which was a gruelling jeep ride through the Pamirs. We'd heard horror stories of it taking 22 hours, so were expecting the worst. For the first four hours or so the road (read dirty track at best) follows the Afghan border, through a gorge and beside the Oxus River. At one point we noticed a crane parked at the side of the road. In the river two back wheels of an upturned car were all that could be seen of the wreckage. The scenery changed suddenly as we crossed the pass to Dushanbe and we cruised into town after only 13 hours on the road. We had shared the jeep with a Tajik family who had done the trip from Murghab in a oner (2 days on the road) and a Belgium backpacker, Mio, who we had met in the homestay in Khorog. One of the Tajik women spent the entire journey discretely vomiting into a plastic bag and then throwing it out of the jeep window. On arrival in Dushanbe we celebrated with Mio in 'beer square', a collection of make shift outdoor bars around a fountain outside the Opera House, busy with locals. We soon discovered the local beer SimSim and, with two Australian backpackers, Ned and Morgan, we became regulars there.

Dushanbe with the huge Tajik flag dominating the skyline

I ended up needing 3 dental appointments over a week for a root canal and filling and was a little worried about the final bill, however it ended up totalling $60, so therefore didn't curtail the SimSim drinking. In between dental work James and I spent our time filling out forms in various embassies for the next round of visa applications.

Unfortunately accommodation wasn't as cheap as dentistry in Dushanbe but a local couchsurfer came to the rescue. Despite going on holiday the evening we arrived, Ryan, gave us the keys to his flat. It was wonderful to have a homely little place to go back to after several hours in the dentist's chair.

Whilst hanging around in Dushanbe I also thought I would get my haircut. I was very tempted by the Princess Diana Salon but decided that I didn't actually want a Princess Diana cut so headed to a less fancy place. Life in Dushanbe is beyond laid back so it was very easy to slip into a routine of doing not a lot. The impending expiry of our Tajik visas got us moving again.

 Me with local Tajik women in Dushanbe. The women are wearing the typical 'nightdress' and featuring 'strong' eyebrows


  1. I found this looking for the Diana Salon's phone #. They actually do a good job! Interesting blog, looks like you enjoyed your stay.

  2. LOL, we had a great time in Dushanbe with all its quirks. Hope you found the phone number and good to know that they are a good hairdressers.