Lately, when it is that time of day when we start thinking about where we will be at nightfall, we sigh with some relief, “We’re not in Burma anymore! We’re in Tajikistan!”
Switching countries has made it immensely easier to deal with our daily challenge of finding a safe place to sleep. In Burma, you may remember from other posts, that camping was illegal and people would call the cops on us if they saw us camping; sleeping overnight in people’s homes was prohibited, and asking monks for refuge in their temples was a 50-50 dice role that sometimes involved village councils. We were told tourists must stay in expensive designated hotels, and when towns didn’t have affordable guesthouse options, we scampered off the road after sunset and almost always pitched our tent in the dark to avoid being seen.
Here in Central Asia the game is entirely different. Tajikistan has been wonderful many fronts, including this sleeping roulette wheel we spin regularly. The anxiety of finding a safe spot still pops up now and again, but the stress and fear of being caught has slipped away here. That’s because people are incredibly generous and open their doors, homes, yards and hearts to us.
As a result, we have slept in a variety of places.
We have bunked up in cheap hotels with either shared bathrooms or budget-friendly suites with tiled showers, hot water kettles and televisions. We crashed in formally designated homestays and guesthouses, shared dorm rooms, fell asleep on the floor of people’s homes, and put up our mosquito net on tea beds where earlier in the day we were spoiled with a feast of food and tea. We camped in orchards, gardens, alongside a road near a big mountain pass, in an abandoned half-destroyed house, and in the shadow of mountains.
We even considered using a rusted truck trailer near a cliff side as shelter for the night when a thunderstorm moved in, but decided against it and found a better alternative when the storm passed.
When another storm surrounded us on another day and we ditched plans to camp behind a backhoe parked at the edge of the village, we knocked on the gate of the first house we ran to and asked if we could sleep on their porch, a safe and dry option. The nice man told us we could stay in his separate house, an area usually reserved for when his out-of-town siblings visit.
One guy with a big heart, after stacking up the Tajik-style mattresses people use for beds and foldaway during the day, even tucked us in and made sure the blankets covered our feet! Who does this kind of stuff??? Tajik and Pamiri people do!
Here are few of our daily nests. We intended to have more photos, but we are once again having problems uploading pictures. I’ll add them the next time we have wifi.
Formal or informal homestays
Hotels, hostels or dorm rooms