Coming from: Kyzyl-Bel, Batken Oblast, Kyrgyzstan
Going to: Guliston, Sughd Oblast, Tajikistan
Documents required: Passport, Tajik E-Visa
Waiting time: 3 min (Kyrgyzstan), 3 min (Tajikistan)
Distance from Bern: 11.545 km
Crossed on 27/06/2017, 9:00 a.m.
Crossing from Kyrgyzstan into Tajikistan was as straightforward as crossing a border in Europe. Well, like before the introduction of Schengen. A glance at the passport and a stamp, that was it – with a quick and hassle-free walk between the Kyrgyz and the Tajik side. OK, for Tajikistan a visa was needed, which has never been common in Europe. But the visa can be obtained online, without much bureaucracy. I did it one night before going to bed. And it just took one week to deliver (as a pdf file) because it ended up in my spam filter.
“So do I need to register myself, once in Tajikistan?”, I asked. Last time, that registration had filled up half a day. “No. You can stay up to 45 days in Tajikistan without registration, because this is a tourist visa.” And that was the only little bit of dialogue I had with the border guards. Luckily, but it was almost boring. Nothing to show off to my girlfriend, who accompanied me for this passport party.
Things got more interesting once we were in Tajikistan. A shared taxi brought us to Isfara, the border town on the Tajik side. Isfara was much more lively than the desolate Batken on the Kyrgyz side, where we had spent the night. We changed some money and took the last two places in a minibus heading to Khujand. Our driver was a horrible driver even on a Central Asian level and an idiot at the same time – every couple of meters he stopped to let passengers enter the already full vehicle. (No, this is not usual on this route, which was confirmed by the grumpiness of other passengers.)
The man in the seat next to us opened the box on his lap and poured more cherries over our hands than we could hold. The cherries had already had a passport party, as well: They were from Vorukh. Vorukh is a small Tajik exclave, surrounded by Kyrgyzstan. There was a minibus line connecting Vorukh and Isfara through Kyrgyzstan. As the man told us, there were no controls whatsoever, the bus just crossed into Kyrgyzstan and back to Tajikistan.
Apparently, the Kyrgyz-Tajik border was not as strictly guarded as the borders of Usbekistan, whose barbed wire was to be seen all over the Ferghana Valley; with its complicated Stalin-era borders. Just some minutes later, indeed, we were back to Kyrgyzstan: Arpa, a little market town. No border control, just a piece of Kyrgyzstan on an otherwise Tajik road. But just after Arpa, we had to stop, nevertheless. Here, the road became the border: Tajikistan on the right side, Kyrgyzstan on the left. Fuel was much cheaper in Kyrgyzstan. I counted 16 gas stations in a row on the left side of the road. Of course, our driver filled up his tank as well. Next was a village which was half in Tajikistan and half in Kyrgyzstan, the road being the border again, and most shops and restaurants in cheaper Kyrgyzstan. Khistevarz, a village with two languages and two currencies, and obviously no border control on the main road.
I was the only one paying attention to such details. All other passengers had closed the curtains and slept. Once we were in Khujand, they quietly disappeared. I flagged down a car which I assumed was a taxi, but it was a policeman on duty. Nevertheless, he drove us to our hotel in the city centre. It was a good start in Tajikistan.
Coming from: Konibodom, Sughd Oblast, Tajikistan
Passing through: Arpa, Batken Oblast, Kyrgyzstan
Going to: Khishtevarz, Sughd Oblast, Tajikistan and Batken Oblast, Kyrgyzstan
Documents required: no control
Waiting time: 10 min (at a Kyrgyz fuel station)
Distance from Bern: ca. 11.630 km
Crossed on 27/06/2017, 10:30 a.m.
Description: see above
Hassle-free crossing: Looking back from Tajikistan to Kyrgyzstan
For further information on Central Asian border crossings, consult Caravanistan.com – an excellent and updated source which substantially helped me planning my trip.