The Warm Embrace of Tajikistan

Posted by on May 13, 2013

Real, honest, open hospitality is a truly amazing thing. This tradition runs deep through the cultures of most of Central Asia, but in my experiences nowhere near as much as Tajikistan.

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View from the front yard of a family in the Fan Mountains.

Though there are some really well-run and welcoming homestays in Tajikistan’s Fan Mountains, they don’t quite cover the whole region.

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6th Lake impromptu homestay family.

How fortunate, then, that one can roll into seemingly any village in the region and be reasonably sure of finding a dry warm place to spend a night!

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Marguzor village resident, and pretty funny dude.

The idea extends to far more than just a place to crash, though. Everywhere I spent any length of time I inevitably met someone interested in trying to chat, talk about life here or there, and share a pot of tea.

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Awesome family, and parents to the cutest child in all of Central Asia (not pictured).

It was, in fact, these experiences that convinced me to move to Bishkek for a while to study Russian. It finally became downright painful to meet so many people who wanted to communicate, and be unable to break past a certain point of vocabulary.

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A stop for tea on the roof of the world.

Thanks, again, to all the people who went out of their way to give me a place to sleep or chat over some tea and bread. This is part of what makes Tajikistan (and all of Central Asia) such an amazing place.

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6 Responses to The Warm Embrace of Tajikistan

  1. Marco Ferrarese

    I met the same amazing old man with a beard last year in Marguzor!! He took a liking for my Malaysian girlfriend, and took her around on her pony for a while… a totally rad dude, it’s amazing to see him up your blog too!! The world is indeed quite small…

    • Stephen

      Dude, thats nuts! One of my friends just went through that area, I’ll have to ask him whether he found the same old man!

  2. Fatimah

    I’ve lived in a few countries, but when people ask which is my favourite, my year in Tajikistan was by far the best. I hitch hiked through the Pamirs and got fat on bread, as every village I passed would have numerous people inviting me in for chai. Their warmness and as you said ‘real, open, honest hospitality’ is truly memorable.

    • Stephen

      Agreed, the hospitality in the Pamirs especially was incredible. A year is along time, cool that you got to spend so long in the country!

  3. The Roaming Coconuts

    We felt the same way about Tajikistan, the hospitality was just unparalleled. Actually I think it spoiled us a little bit, and when we returned to Southeast Asia after 2 months in Central Asia, we suddenly realized the people weren’t as friendly as we remembered. I wonder if the standard of hospitality would remain in Central Asia if the number of tourists greatly increased?

    • Stephen

      You know, I’ve wondered the same thing recently in conversation with a friend. Kyrgyzstan especially I could see getting much more popular in a relatively short time, and I’m sort of ambivalent about it because while I understand the obvious economic benefits it would bring I also question whether it would lead to this eventual commodification of tourists that you see in places like Thailand and Cambodia.

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