DUSHANBE was the nicest of the Central Asian capitals we stayed in. A few hours away are two villages: Garm, an agricultural town in the Rasht Valley which reaches up to Kyrgyzstan; and a few centuries removed, an isolated village of stone houses, orchards and mountains, Margeb.
Colourful and giggly farm girls were our introduction to Tajikistan after we left Uzbekistan.
With the Mongol Rally pouring through Tajikistan, hostels were overflowing. Beds were US$10, if you could get one. The Vakhsh Hotel was $22 for two.
A painter restores the Vakhsh Hotel to its former glory. Poised opposite the main sqaure and Opera House, sure beats a hostel.
Tajikistan was/is major transhipment point for Afghan heroin.
Mosaic walls in Dushanbe, quite a pleasant city, with some OK eating, bazaars, and history.
Soviet are or style apartments.
180km from Dushanbe is Garm, a small agricultural town, with some pleasant hiking nearby.
Many small villages surround the town of Garm.
The Rahst Valley has long been a hot-bed of resistance, to the Soivets in the 1920s, and during the 1990s civil war.
A small orchard enterprise in Garm was our home for a few days. When not hiking around the hills, we swung in the hammock or checked out the wide variety of fruit on the trees.
Tajikistan has some of the world's tallest mountains, including a number of 7000m peaks. Powerful rivers like the Kyzyslu cut sways through the country.
Massive mountains dwarf a village near Garm.
Central Asia, melons. There was always melons of some variety.
Probably a relic of the 1990s civil war, or maybe just driven to death, a jeep is an awesome play ground.
On the road oustide Garm. The valley is a back road into Kyrgyzstan.
View from our guesthouse, Garm.
In a Rashy Valley market. We didn't see or taste much chili in Tajikistan.
The guesthouse was run primarily as an orchard and research centre, grafting and breeding fruit.
Margeb (Margib) sits under some incredible mountains, famous amongst rock climbers.
Just 120km from the capital, in Margeb, stone buildings are the norm, not the exception.
Despite only being 126kms from the national capital, it is hard to believe that Garm is in the same country, or even century.
The road into Margeb was a twisting affair, involving craning your neck to take in the mountains and overhangs above, and marvel at the volume of water in the rivers just below.
Most of the village kids would work on the family farms.
Summer views from the Yagnob Valley.
The highway from Dushanbe passes through the incredible 5km Aznob Tunnel. Soon, turning off at Takfon, the road becomes much less of an engineering marvel. Progress has bypassed the valley, making for a tough life for locals, but pleasant homestays for us.
Wooden fances, donkeys, scythes, a backdrop of mountains and green fields. PIcturesque, but a harsh life.
Everyone is the village was hard at work bringing in grass for the winter feed. With snow falling on the hills outside town in September, how must February be?
Like nimble mountain goats, farmers gather in the winter feed and descend a steep slope outside Garm.