The long way to Dushanbe

You could safely conclude that the author of this blog entry is not the one who booked the flights.

Despite the flights costing an arm, a leg and a kidney, it turned out our 4 flight journey to get from Wellington, NZ to Dushanbe, Tajikistan – via Auckland, Singapore and Dubai – also had a total travel time of 39:35hrs from take off in Wellington to landing in Dushanbe (at 4:20am)…

In part this was thanks to the 8:30 hour layover in Singapore and a 5:30 hour layover in Dubai (the 3 hours in Auckland being accepted as a necessary).

While not a planned part of trip there was no way we were not going to try and squeeze in seeing a bit more of Singapore. We’ve only visited once so there is still heaps we haven’t seen.

Singapore airport is geared for people transiting. Amongst other things it offers a free 2.5 hour city tour, which sounds great in theory but in practice by 7:20am (the registration booth opened at 7am) the 9am tour was full and we didn’t have the requisite time to take the later one. So it was back to the original plan of going into the city under our own steam.

We changed a few US dollars and jumped on the MRT to the city. We were reminded of what a rabbit warren the underground walkways are when we got completely lost leaving the station. But we’d acquired a map on the way so soon got our bearings when we finally popped out.

With it being a Saturday morning the streets were pretty quiet. We were heading to Gardens by the Bay, and it didn’t take us long to discover the scale on the map wasn’t quite what it appeared, but we needed a good stretch of our legs anyway and while hot and humid an occasional breeze made it tolerable for the most part. It was good acclimatisation, with temperatures in the early 30’s we are headed to temperatures between that and up to early 40’s.

When we finally got there we didn’t have time to do any of the paid conservatory parts justice – next time – so stuck to the free outdoor part. We also managed to take a much nicer and direct route back to the MRT, which naturally went through a shopping centre; this is Singapore.

We still had time on the way back to jump off and walk a couple of blocks to Kampong Glam. We were underwhelmed by Sultan mosque, if you haven’t seen many it would be worth a visit, but it was the heritage streets surrounding it that made it worthwhile for us.

With closed in streets rather than open air, the heat and humidity was less fun and we were tired and hungry so it wasn’t long before we headed back to the airport.

The flight to Dubai was uneventful, a slightly longer stint of unbroken sleep was even had. We’d been ready to get on the plane as tiredness, heat, humidity and the barrage on the senses was taking its toll.

Dubai is more familiar. Reunited with our bags we took the chance to offload some of the unnecessary crap from our day sacks. We experienced the furnace blast that is Dubai in August as we found our way to the departure hall, only to discover our flight to Dushanbe departed from a different terminal that we’d need to taxi too. We hit the ATM and then experienced the furnace blast again. Heat is so much more tolerable than humidity.

We had a 2 hour wait before check in even opened, it was pretty tortuous and given the flight left at midnight Dubai time (4am Singapore time, 8am NZ time) we were tired and useless.

Our last flight! We learnt in the check in queue that Tajiks are not the most patient people. Mainly it was families and people that had been on buying missions taking a shedload of stuff home. There was lots of wheeling and dealing going on as people shared their luggage weight with each other. We’ve been to enough off the beaten track places now that we have stopped looking to see if we are the only tourists. It wasn’t until we were boarding the plane and a flight attendant told us that the plane wasn’t full so to head down towards the back and pick anywhere we wanted and then proceeded to check we liked our choices (of course we’d picked a row each, we were starting to crave lying flat) and then went off to get us blankets before checking if we wanted to be woken for food – we’d already eaten too much and slept too little so that was an easy decision.

It was only a 3.5 hour flight sadly but we both got some reasonable sleep in. There was still nothing fresh about us when we arrived in Dushanbe. Immigration was slow but our bags were even slower, they literally took an hour to arrive on the belt.

But finally – we’ve arrived!

Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through

 

 

 

 


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