In the 1970’s the Soviet communist state decided to reward its cotton-picking comrades with a spa visit to straighten their backs in the healing waters at Khoja.
This concrete complex reassuringly sits on a rock fault that spouts out nitric siliceous therms and sulphuric radon gaseous steam, which can heal all ailments and prepare you for another arduous year in the fields. The claims are that a French architect is responsible for the 1000 room sanatorium hidden in a remote valley 2000m above sea level. I fear the French probably disowned him. The monstrosity that ‘seamlessly fits into the surrounding landscape’ is the closest the Tajiks ever came to Butlins, the main difference being that people fight to sample these mountain waters and at Butlins people just fight.
Working on that prevention is better than cure we wound our way up the snow lined track to this James Bond style retreat. The main resort, half painted in garish yellow, frowned upon our intrusion, whilst the private resort begrudging bestowed us with a tour and tinged sheets. In a mouldy changing room wearing inappropriate underwear we wrapped in linen, and skated across the floor in borrowed pool shoes to the bath. Thankfully, the pool of eternal youth was shrouded in enough steam to hide all the flaky skin, and sizzled like a cauldron upon entry. I dipped in, and then jumped out before all my hair bleached and decided to enter the steam room to recover. However, this proved too acidic for my tender lungs, no health warnings here, in fact you are actively encouraged to breath in this toxic gas for up to twelve minutes and repeat the process several times to ensure all your lung tissue is contaminated. In an attempt to recover from the ordeal I hung out of the window and peered at the snow-capped mountains, whilst inadvertently venting the room to the disgust of the other guests.
The remainder of the day was spent in a lethargic daze pondering the undeterminable cause for my lacklustre state of health; pleasure or poison.
As you may have realised I have now absconded from the world of volunteering and what it entails. I am now generally begging for paid work to beef up the imaginary pension fund and resurrect my high profile career.
The content of the blog is a distorted and off the cuff review of my time in Tajikistan whilst volunteering.Hopefully, it will entice you to sample the country for yourself and build up your own repertoire of arm chair stories.
Any comments, notes, or general abuse are always welcome.
*these are all my comments and not the views held by VSO.