I got up extra early, packed, and checked out of the hotel by about 06:30. I walked a few blocks to the bus stop that I had scouted the day before and caught a marshrutka to the parking lot from where the shared taxis for Dushanbe departed, Map Location: 40.275845, 69.610515 .
I was swarmed by drivers when I got off of the bus. They were trying to take my bags so I would have to go with them so I had to wrestle my bags away from them. I saw that one car was almost full so I headed for it and worked out the price with the driver. He only wanted 100 somoni which was less than the 120 to 150 that I was expecting to pay.
I took a seat next to a young Tajik girl who was probably in her early 20's or late teens. I like sitting by the ladies since, unlike the guys, they avoid being touched. The taxi filled up with two more guys. and took off after only about 5 minutes so I had timed it perfectly. The driver told me to get in the 2nd back row of seats but I ignored him and stayed put.
Everybody in the car was excited to have a foreigner among them and they asked me questions for about the first hour. The excitement finally passed and I could relax.
The trip passes through some spectacular mountains and goes through the tunnel of death and another long tunnel. Inside the tunnel, our driver kept passing other cars even though the tunnel had no lights or ventilation, was filled with exhaust, and you could barely see oncoming traffic.
The road is on the side of the mountain along a cliff for quite a ways. There are several crumpled cars at the bottom of the cliff that never made it to their destinations.
We had a long lunch stop at a restaurant right after going over the mountain pass. I don't eat on these trips to avoid any intestinal issues. We also had to stop one more time so the guy in the front seat could hop out and throw up for about five minutes.
The driver dropped us off on the north side of Dushanbe along the main road at Map Location: 38.614799, 68.784591 . From there I took Bus 1 the rest of the way and walked the final few long blocks to the hotel.