Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 23 Dushanbe - Hissar - Dushanbe

Distance: 70kms

Confirmed my flight at Turkish Airlines and continued by bike to Hissar, and old fortress 35 kilometres from town. The fort was used by a brazen Turk to take Dushanbe but was later defeated by the Russians. The fort was all but demolished by the Russians recognising its symbolic value.

The fort itself wasn't particularly exciting (below left) but it was nice to get out of town. i spent the afternoon changing money (the airline is stinging me $200 cash to take the bike which is
extortionate). When I returned to my hotel I was greeted by a guest at the Vacksh Hotel - a massive rat staring at me from the centre of the room. It was startled by my presence (it was mutual) and the beast sprinted between my legs and into the bathroom. The bathroom was off limits for the night and a water bottle assumed its function.

I also caught up with a German couple heading into the Pamirs by bike. Their pump had broken so I gave them mine - I felt like I'd repaid the favour to the Swedish couple who'd given me their tool kit all those weeks ago. I had to sleep with one eye open as, surprise, surprise, the hotel doesn't do wake up calls. I hailed a taxi at 2am bound for the airport for my 5am departure. The airport is a zoo and incredibly difficult to hold my place in the line while holding a bike.

I finally negotiated check-in and customs, but not before a customs officer skimmed $30 which I couldn't do anything about. Luckily I had enough to cover the cost of the bike transport - with just 60 cents to spare. The bonus was that I was able to get my bike checked through to Melbourne. I am convinced that Turkish Airlines are the worst, laziest, most incompetent and neglectful airline I've used. No one will make eye contact with you even where you are waiting to be served, and my presence is an obvious burden.

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