Salom Alleikum, Tajikistan!
by Arkady (UA4CC)

Internet does not work at my home today, the evening is free, as all plans were based on the network. Therefore, I decided to dedicate these unexpectedly happened off-hours to write my long-promissed story about my March trip to Dushanbe and EY0R team participation in RDXC 2005. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, I was not able to do this when impressions were "hot". Nodir EY8MM is right to claim for my promises. That’s it! Today is a right time! ?

EY8MM, RX3APM, UA4CC, UA4LU, EY8AA, EY8WW I must say, in February I still did not have any plans for the expedition. Daily routine and business did not allow any of such plans. Frankly speaking, I wanted to operate from some rare entity for a long time. However, for some reasons, only a few RDA mini-expeditions to rare Saratov districts were possible. In addition, my desire to run "the other side of the pile-up" was still great!

One day, in RDXC discussions at CONTESTRU, my old friend Nodir gave a remark on possibility to visit Tajikistan and compete with EX9A - famous post-USSR "brandmark". Thanks to UA3DPX's stories and video in Domodedovo, - this made everyone talk about the famous "Mountain". For some reason, I replied Nodir’s remark guessing it was an invitation. Yes, it was – answered EY8MM, - if someone will not afraid. Afraid of what? - I asked. Nodir said that the belligerent state image was formed about Tajikistan in the world. Therefore, I "worked up"! Why not?! As per my political knowledge, there was nothing to be afraid about. This country is even more peaceful than our Moscow, - not to mention North Caucasus areas. To save it, Nodir took me at Jeepers! ?

I started to think about the trip seriously. As always, there were a lot of business and other problems. However, I wanted my dream to come through very much! Besides that, I had never been to Middle Asia, and was always attracted by Orient exotics. To say the truth, our grey long-winter routine days finally got me! I wanted to forget about this routine for some time! During my doubts and thoughts, Vlad UA4LU called me and suggested he would accompany me in the trip. That was interesting and funnier to travel together with someone else. I told him my doubts and promised to make my decision soon. After two days, Vlad called me again and said that Sergey RX3APM would join the team. Days rushed, occasionally I talked with Sergey in ICQ. Suddenly he said, "Sorry UA4CC is not going to join us, we’ve got tickets already". I was shocked, - I did not make my decision yet! That was the last push! The guys will be in Dushanbe in a few days, and I will stay alone with my dreams! The next day I called Sergey and told him

I’m in the boat. Sergey agreed to take care of the tickets, and on the 7th March he said, my tickets are ready, for the same flight with him. The flight is on the 17th March, midnight!

The storm will soon burst! (for 30 minutes prior to the beginning RDXC) Hurray!, the decision is made, and the "bridges are burnt"! I went to the airport and bought a ticket to Moscow, for the flight on the 16th March, evening. The flight schedule is nice, local flight from Saratov arrives at Domodedovo airport 4 hours before the Tadjik flight. The only thing to worry about is the weather. If local departure will be delayed for 1-2 hours, I would be late. Spring weather is so unpredictable… But the forecasts are good, and I hope for the best.

The remained days rushed in trip preparations, souvenir shopping and getting additional information about the country. This all was between my daily business activities. But I was in exultant mood, - such an interesting and mysterious travel is ahead of me!

UA4LU decided to fly earlier, on Monday 14th March, from Samara. This was more comfortable for him. His assistance in the site preparation was also needed. We are in permanent communications with the team members and "the host party".

Nodir informed us, Vlad is in Dushanbe on Monday evening already. We are happy his flight was good, and send him our greetings. The most admired thing is that it’s +18°C in Tajikistan. That time we had -10°C in Saratov and in Moscow.

We got first digital photos from EY8MM on the next day. We see, antenna works are underway, and we are sorry to be out of this. But this is not our fault. Especially we are impressed with UA4LU’s happy face and his "no-clothes" image in the winter time! ? Vlad said on the phone, he got sunburned a bit! Unwillingly I looked out of the window where "spring snowstorm" roared, and the temperature did not want to rise higher than -10°C!

Every day we get new photos, we see the jobs on the site. Our impatience raises, we want to appear "in the thick of things" more quickly.

Nodir informed us, the EY0R license is his hands (EY0 prefix was issued for the first time!), also private EY8/UA4CC, EY8/UA4LU, EY8/RX3APM licenses are issued. Usually this takes much longer time. This was possible, thanks to Nodir’s persistence and to the goodwill of Mrs.L.Kovalevskaya, the Head of the Licensing Department of Tadjik Ministry of Communications. Our sincere thanks to Nodir and Mrs.L.Kovalevskaya!

The next day is Wednesday. I tried to finish my business by the noon. No way earlier than 3 p.m.! Breaking speed limitations, I drove to the garage, left my car there, and hurried up home. My baggage was ready, I checked my tickets, my papers, and after one hour the driver arrived to take me to the airport. Last glance on the screen, all weather site show very cold, but – this is important, - clear weather. The flight registration started in time, I went through it pretty fast, and after "dressing-undressing" tricks at the security check point, I’m in the plane. The ЯК-42 started and took off! That was it! My trip begun!

The flight from Saratov to Moscow takes 1 hour 20 minutes only. But this time is enough to feel uncomfortable with the plane salon. It’s too tight! But there is nothing to choose from, - we do not have other planes from Saratov. Safe landing at Domodedovo Airport, - and I’m in the waiting area! Hurray!, - no plan failures, no fear now; even in case of weather delays, - we’ll fly! ?

I called Sergey: he is in the train at the Paveletskyj Train Station, Moscow, and arrives in the Airport in 40 minutes. We agreed to meet at the registration counter. As we found out later, we’ve met with Sergey once already, it was during one of the hamventions (perhaps, in Voronezh). We recognized each other at once! We checked-in quickly. I would note, that besides usual baggage we had two sets of band-pass filters (imagine 12 boxes of the quite "military" shape), GU-43 lamp as a gift, different wires, cables, etc. Naturally, the doubt arised, - will there be any problem with customs and security about such a baggage. But everything is fine, looks like the baggage is checked to prevent danger from terrorists, - we are OK! ? Finally we have notebooks in our hands only, and we went to the Airport second floor.

It’s necessary to note, that the last years I’ve been in the Domodedovo Airport during summer vacation time and tourist season peaks. I still remember huge pile-ups, long queues at the pass control. Today the hall was empty! We approached a bored, half-asleep custom officer. He looks at us, asks how much money we have, and lets us through. Our money and hand luggage absence did not impress him.

We are at the pass control. A female border-guard asked Sergey about the purpose of his visit to Tajikistan. Radio competition, Sergey replied. She wants to know details. Are you ready for some two hours story, Sergey asked? He got the stamp in his pass immediately. I approached to the stand and said, "I’m the same person like him". She smiled and stamped my passport also. Now we are at the security control. Its thoroughness is very impressive. No objections though! I would not have any complaints if it takes twice longer! Unwillingly I remembered the last August horror. Last year I traveled home from Domodedovo Airport, on my way back from Tunisia. My flight was less than 24 hours before the plane tragedy. These "missiles whizzed so close" are still very deep in my heart!

Now, everything is behind us. We proceed straight to the Duty Free. Some gifts, - we promised cognac and whisky already. One Hennessy for ourselves, - that was not for nothing as it opened out later ? We still have some time before boarding… We sit in the waiting room. Sergey connected Internet through his GPRS notebook. We watch new photos from Nodir, and sent message to the reflector that we’re waiting for boarding. The time glides, we are at the TU-154 boarding bridge. Shrilling wind blows, it is cold. Last glance at snowdrifts on the airfield, and we are boarding the plane. We got into our seats, looking around. To say the truth, the plane is not in its first blush of youth. But there is nothing to choose from. Prelaunch emotions begin raising out. After certain events I feel some discomfort during the flights. This is not, say, fear, but … ?

We decided to take the stress off with the cognac. We raised the tost for expedition start and success. Well, for our flight of course. For our secure flight! ?

The take-off time passed, but we are still at the airport. At last the plane starts to the runway. We added some 20 gr. It felt like a bit better! ? Finally turbines roared, and the plane runs on the runway. Strange sounds are heard in the salon, everything buzzes and crackles! Suddenly, everywhere in the salon some strange access panels opened (with the crash sounds!), some passengers got them onto their heads. But Sergey and I are quiet, because of some cognac! Finally the plane took off and started to gain the height. There was 40 minutes delay, but it doesn’t matter now! The time glides, we have a lot of to talk about! We discussed contesting, tactics and strategy of RK3AWL, DXing achievements, and other important topics. The lunch passed during our talks also.

Despite EY8MM's request to sleep during the flight, it was not possible. Finally, we see the lights outside, - we are definitely flying over the big city. The pilot announced we are going to land at Dushanbe Airport. The temperature outside is +10°C. Nice temperature for 6 o’clock in the morning! (The time in Tajikistan is 2 hours advanced from Moscow, the flight took us a little bit more than 4 hours).

Good afternoon, Tajikistan!

Dushanbe Airport does not look like Domodedovo, but it is pretty decent. We finished pass control and arrived at the customs table. The officer’s question "what do you have in your boxes?" (the boxes with filters and other technical units) was confidently replied by RX3APM: "Private belongings!" The enter permission followed!

That's it, we are in Tajikistan. We met Nodir EY8MM and Vlad UA4LU at the entrance. Happy greetings, - we proceed to the car. We load the baggage into Nodir’s "Niva" and start right away. Dushanbe streets are empty in the morning. We drive to EY8MM’s office. Nodir briefly tells us about the city, we pass through the center and stop by the office. Nodir prepared us hot coffee and showed us some Tadjik hams photos. We are able to see some familiar faces …

Suddenly the telephone rings, - this was Sasha EY8CQ. He tells us he’s arrived, and we start to our permanent location.

Dushanbe is a small city (its population is about 500.000 inhabitants). I thought, all distances in Dushanbe are even shorter than in Saratov. In 10 minutes we are at the ex-Peoples’ Achievement Exhibition territory, where EY8CQ’s company is located. Here we’ll have our shack and our home in the same time.

Happy arms again, and start to unpack. Pleasant gifts and souvenirs procedure. Everybody is happy, we take photos and go for breakfast. Then comes the time for shack and antennas inspection.

There were two rooms, tables with three transceivers. These are EY8MM’s ICOMs 735, 725 and 775DSP. One GU-43 PA and ACOM1000 amplifiers are also there. We went out. The mast with 20-10m (WARC included) 2-el quad stays close to the building; there is a mast on the roof, with 3 el 40m yagi and 5-el 15m yagi over it. In about 70 m from the building there is УНЖа-mast with 5-el 20m beam with a long boom; and more away, there is telescopic mast with 5-el 10m antenna (quite original design, with a loop vibrator, - looks like a very large TV antenna). We see 160m sloper and wideband dipole for 80m. Additionally, there is one more 36m mast that was planned as top-band vertical. As EY8CQ said, this antenna has some problems. Unfortunately, we were not lucky to fix the problem, so this antenna did not worked during our expedition. Pity, we needed it badly!

We are quite happy with what we saw, watched the vicinity for some time more, and we go into the building. Our hosts offer us some sleep. What?! We are "itched" for the air! I took a seat and called «CQ de EY8/UA4CC» on 20m. Immediately there was a pile-up on the frequency! There are European and Japanese stations. A lot of ex-USSR stations. In spite of workday, there are many familiar calls …

Notebook is not ready yet, and I keep my paper log. I understood, I left off paper logs, it’s more complicated to do paper logs than pushing keyboard buttons. But I am still in time with it. I made QSO with UA4HBW. While I was telling Victor about local conditions, I heard Sasha’s EY8CQ laughter. I looked at him disappointly, - he showed me to take the headphones off. He explained me the reason: I told Victor "It’s sunny here, a lot of grass." I really meant a good weather and green grass around, keeping Saratov cold in mind! (A "grass" is another name for drugs in Russia) This other "grass" meaning associations made EY8CQ laughing! ? Local traditions, what would you say! ?

The time glides! There are some 200 QSOs in the log. Sergey started to do the network. It turned out that local notebook is not powerful enough for the network! My and Sergey’s PC are OK, but we need the third one! After a few telephone calls Nodir rushed to his friend and brought one more notebook. Hurray!, the network is running! Sergey was like a professional admin to do the network. All PCs have Windows XP. We vote for N1MM software in the contest. My idea was WriteLog, but complied with the majority decision. To tell more, I’m not that experienced contestman, UA4LU’s and RX3APM’s (i.e. RK3AWL) experiences are the real weighty argument! We started VHF cluster. Not everything runs good, but finally we fixed the problem (on the next day). Everything works well roughly.

Sasha EY8CQ came back and said, he made temporary official registration for us. Nobody was asking for it, but if there are the rules, you need to follow them!

It’s evening. Nodir said we’re having lunch in Chine restaurant and a meeting with Tadjik Radio Amateur League members. Off we go. At the restaurant doors we were met by Masud Tursun-Zadeh, EY8AA, the League President and Nodir’s father, Eradge EY8WW, Nodir’s brother, Vlad EY8HB, Artyom EY8BA. We pictured this memorial event (see EY0R QSL card).

The lunch in the restaurant was unconstrained and friendly! EY8CQ who was late joined us soon. We toasted Russian-Tadjik friendship, contesting and DX-ing. The time glides… We are again in our "Niva" and bounded for our shack. Nodir was a driver, there he was an "arbitrary" meeting participant, so the talks continued on the site. All talks are about our hobby. Sometimes the discussions were "hot" but never unfriendly ?

Finally we calmed down, the guys went sleep. I’m tired, but can’t stay against the pleasure. EY8/UA4CC is on 40m and 30m, then 160m. No doubt, the conditions in Dushanbe are exceptional, and not like in Europe.

I note specific "shroud" on top bands. Signals are quite loud, but "smeared", they sink in the noise. S9+ JAs remind you: you are in Asia! Perhaps, these are location specific conditions (the power line passes very close here), but receiving conditions are quite hard. In the contest we made it sure, - this is not randomness!

Despite of QRM, the rate is high – 3-5 QSOs per minute. I do not want to wake the guys up, and work CW. Familiar calls are often in my log, - they are not sleeping! This is nice to know! I do split: 1, 2, 4 kcs up are full up of the calling stations. I’m in time to run the pile-up, and this makes me really happy!

I looked at my watches, - it’s 2 a.m. in Moscow and 4 a.m. in Dushanbe! I realized: I’m did not sleep for 40 hours already, and must have some rest. I go QRT until tomorrow, and switched off the rig. The last day impressions run in my mind, and I slept with these thoughts …

The Second day

They woke us up awfully early, - at 8-9 a.m. local time, but at 6-7 MSK! My attempts to turn myself to another side were not successful, so I had to open my eyes! I told myself: you did come here, at thousands km distance, not for sleep! It did not help much, but finally I stood up and went for a shower. We had tea and coffee and discussed today’s plans. Today we have the most interesting (for me, at least) events, - trip to the mountains! Long time I dreamed about this. We’re in the car again. Go ahead!

Certainly, Tadjik mountains are associated with Pamir first of all. But local hams explained, it’s some 600 km from Pamir, and one day is not enough for such a trip. You have to stay longer here, explains Nodir. We run north now, to the Varzob Canyon, which is a part of the Gissar mountains ridge.

City buildings come to an end gradually, and we see roaring mountain river on the left, - it is Varzob river. Higher and more higher mountain tops arrived ahead of us. We passed mountain residence of Tadjik President – Mr.E.Rakhmonov, where he received his Russian colleague lately. It so nice around! The road climes further up! Now we can see snowy mountain tops on the left and on the right! We see waterfalls, canyons… Unspeakable beauty! The road sometimes blocked with boulders, sand and mud. These are the river "tricks". The road workers were in time to move barriers away somewhere, the works are in process in some places; we carefully pass dangerous sites. Nodir coolly explains that stonefalls are very often in these places. We see some of them, and we asked Nodir to drive dangerous sites more quickly! ? We passed places with the road fallen down to the river; the travel is only possible upon the narrow asphalt slice, that were spared by the river. Yes, here is an extreme! Finally we stopped and came out of the car. The canyon narrowed up to a limit, huge mountain tops hang above us (looks like no less than 3-4 thousand meters high). It’s much cooler here than in the city, we are some 1300 m ASL already! Grey, unfriendly clouds are running in the sky, they are located lower than mountain tops!

Oh yes, the greateness and severity of these places impressed us!… Together with Nodir, we try to climb up higher up the mountain. We slowly move our feet from one stone to another. The breath becomes frequent, the heart starts to beat more and more quickly. Finally we reached the snow edge, – that’s it, such «lames», like we can go there without special equipment. We see road strip and our car like a matchbox below… Probably, in places like this, one understands better that the man is a grain against the Nature… How strong are the forces of this Nature! On our way down we found a mountain flower, took photos with it. The way downwards is much harder than the way up. Finally, we are on the road. На пути вниз находим горный цветок, фотографируемся. Пусть назад еще сложнее, чем наверх! Но вот мы и на дороге! Uf-f… So many impressions!.. We set in the car; – the rain comes nearer, it is necessary to leave these places quickly. On the way back we stopped for BBQ. We settled down right on the roaring river bank. T he guys brought us shashlik, local flavourings; - all this swept away in a few minutes after such a climb.

I should note, our trip to the mountains was personally for me one of the most interesting events! (Radio operation does not count!). My great thanks go to EY8MM and EY8BA for these strong impressions they gave me!

We drive back to Dushanbe. One more action is planned for us today, - it’s visit to local bazaar (market). Besides the perceptual reason, there is another mission, - we should buy food for the next two days. We will not have time for bazaar during the contest!

Despite the afternoon time, the bazaar meets us with endless sea of people! Traders and customers numbers are approximately equal! ? There are calls from everywhere: please taste, please look, - your eyes would be dazzled! There is spicery smell around. In general, a real orient bazaar should look like this. I happened to be in Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia, - their bazaars are somewhat "artificial", and they are made for tourists. Here, everything is natural. That’s why it is double interesting! We split into two groups, - Vlad UA4LU has his "idee fixe", - he wants to buy Tadjik national caftan! He and Artyom come to those places where they could buy it. Sergey and I are trying not to be left behind Nodir; we pack ourselves with the food and come back to the car. The rain started, gradually coming into heavy shower! We reach the car and wait for the others. Soon they arrived, - without purchases. Under the endless rain, we drive to the site. We prepare food and have supper. Sasha EY8CQ arrived soon and joined us. Our themes as always are perpetual; they are all about amateur radio!

The time glides, the second day comes to the end. Tired but happy, we are wandering off. As always, I can’t stay the air temptation. Again, there are tens and hundreeds of calling stations! Perpetual call, - you can’t call this another name! How lucky are Tadjik guys, - they will never be bored with such a pile-up! ?

Split again, the wall of stations in 5 KHz bandwidth again. This would be easy to spread the pile-up up to 10, and 20 KHz. I think, one has a short mind to do this. It’s much more interesting to run a pile-up rate in narrow split range! Looks like I’m able to manage it. (To say the truth, let "the other side" of the pile-up to decide this!) I’d like to point out, I did not note those special uncontrollable pile-ups, that people like to call «EU ZOO», etc. In general, those stations replied, whom I called: if I called «BW», there were UA4HBW, DJ3BW, etc. There were exceptions, though, but I managed to put everything onto their places.

Perhaps, these bacchanalias on the DX frequency are often the result of incorrect DX-station operation? One has to rule the calling stations, and this is a role of the DX station! Sure, this is my exceptional private opinion, but I managed to do this (for God's sake, do not consider this as my braggiing, nobody is going even to compare our pile-ups with TI9 and K1B pile-ups, etc.). That would be undoubtedly interesting to know "coryphaei" opinions about our pile-up operation!

There are more than one thousand QSOs in EY8/UA4CC log. But I work in snatches on the air! Approximately the same rate have Sergey and Vlad. It is morning soon again, and I say good-bye and go to bed, pitied.

Saturday, the third day

Today is our third day in Tajikistan. Perhaps, the most important, today starts RDX Contest, the main goal of our visit!

We wash and having breakfast. During the breakfast we discuss the main objectives. We decided to "redesign" our shack a little bit. We moved tables, rig and computers. Now, the configuration is like this: we set the run station in the first room, with IC-775DSP and GU-43B PA, which is able to one band and two antennas simultaneously. Another "pick-up" station nearby: IC-725 (no filters!), and multiband vertical, no PA here. In the second room there is mult station: IC-735, ACOM-1000. Sergey RX3APM once again checks the network and N1MM operation. It looks like everything is OK. Using some tricks, we managed to connect different antennas to any station. We connected cables for band-pass filters between TRXs and PAs. Now we have to put the vertical up. It’s raining outside, but we have to do this now. The Cushcraft R7000 takes its place at some distance from the building. We connected cable, but the antenna doesn’t want to tune higher than 20m. I share my unsuccessful experience in using this antenna. 5-6 times I had to repair traps. Really, one of the traps is slightly burnt. Nodir and Vlad clean the damaged spot, and antenna is in its place again. Hurray!, everything is running! The only thing is out of control, - we can’t run 36m mast as a top-band vertical. Pity, but there is nothing to do… Vlad and I work on the air with our calls, in turn, on higher bands, - there were not too many QSOs the previous days there. 10m is open (this pleases all the guys), 10, 15, 12m QSOs appeared in our logs. Good run, everybody wishes us good luck in the contest. It’s noon. We’re having lunch, discussing the last details. We decided, during the contest off-duty ops feed themselves on their own. There are plenty "Doshirak" packets, meat fat, tea, coffee, fruits. Perhaps, this would be enough!

By the way, we also decided right away, no spirits during the contest, even no beer. I should note, this decision was carried out 100%. Nobody even wished to do different!

There is an opinion that it’s good to have some sleep before the contest. OK, we go to beds. But the sleep doesn’t come, - pre-contest fever is on already. After some 1-1.5 hours in beds, we switched on the rig. It’s two hours before the contest. EY8/UA4CC, UA4LU, RX3APM are on the air. Looks like everything is OK. 40 minutes before the contest we drink some tea and take our places. We decided that RX3APM starts run, - RK3AWL "school" should prove itself here! UA4LU operates mult station. UA4CC does puck-up. Everything is ready, last minutes…

Exactly at 5 p.m. the air blows up with roaring signals! The Holiday begun!

We start 15 SSB. Nice rate, 10 QSOs in the first minute! I made the first mult QSO on 20m. Pleasant coincidence, - that was my "native" club station RZ4CWW. Vlad puts new CW mults into the log. The first problems arised, - when the run station is on, pick-up station becomes practically deaf. IC725 receives nothing, even with filters. Dribs and drabs! 280 QSOs in the first hour! Fine!

We try to monitor our rivals. UP5G runs "neck-to-neck"! UU5J is also nearby. We can’t hear`8Q7DV yet. EX9A is SO though, but runs excellent! Our rate didn’t decrease during the second hour. Besides 20m, we pick-up mults on 40m. This is not easy from here, without considerable power, but we are replied!

Practically, all calls in the log are friends! That’s more pleasant!

After 2,5 hours the run station goes 20m SSB. 5-el yagi and quads are running both sides! This trick gives a real advantage! The rate is fine. After 14Z there are the first US stations in the log. We moved to CW, and the rate is still good. Mult and pick-up stations add precious points to the "piggy bank".

After 16Z the rate goes down. We decided to put run station on 40m. We pick up mults on 40m and 80m. Full size 3-el yagi works nice, we have a lot of calling stations

Band-pass filter, sure, help a lot, but it’s impossible to get rid of mutual interference at all; this restrains the other two stations operation. Perhaps, this is because of their close positional relationship? Our rivals give away close serial numbers. Sergey goes to have a rest. EY8MM operates the run station. Same ops at mult and pick-up stations. The first thousand QSO range is done. We work 8Q7DV. They are far behind us yet. We understand: their "top" is upper HF bands! To far from Europe… We work 40m CW and SSB.

Mult station goes to 80m. We have propagation there, and the mult grows up. We work UP5G on 160m. Approximately the same QSO number. It’s OK, for the time being! ?

The rate goes down, and at 20.30 GMT we made fatal (as turned out later) decision: put the run station on 80m. You know both EY8MM, and EY8CQ told us to stay on 40m until the end, and QSY to 80 as late as possible! We didn’t take their advice… It turned out also that 80m and 160m antennas were not the best antennas. Top-band equipment of our rivals is much more serious!

The rate goes down, we moved to 160m, but as I said before, RX conditions there are very difficult due to local problems. We move to 80m again, but no rate! We go back to 40m, but the time is lost already! Now the most number of participants are on top bands, and we were not able to run the same rate on 40m. Finally, we obviously were defeated by our rivals on top bands, and lost previous advantage.

It should be noted, our rivals had troubles to monitor our score! The problem was that we were not able to configure correct M/S serial numbers output in N1MM. Therefore, we could not find it better than reject through numbering, and give away numbers separately by bands. RX3APM got this permission from the RDXC Committee Chief beforehand, but our rivals were confused, perhaps ? The author has no team contesting experience, therefore I can’t say the way WriteLog and other contesting software act in such a situation. This was exactly what happened to N1MM software that time.

At 02.20Z the run station goes to 20m. Mult station begins to move up to 15m. That time there were good conditions to Russian Far East and South-East Asia. The rate is quite nice, but it was impossible to catch up the night gap. Everybody understands this!

Rare oblasts increase multiplier on 15m. 20m rate is on the good level.

The time flies implacable… At 04.15Z the run station goes to 15m. It’s so unusual to hear plenty Russians from 3rd and 4th call areas, and Ukrainians. They are all in the "dead zone" in my home! We keep fair rate, and search 10m for mults. Conditions on "ten" start to open slightly! We worked Eugeniy RW3QC and long time tried to understand the logic of the 5B/UW3QC call sign! ? No time to think, we put in log what we exactly hear!

About 07.00Z we go to 10m. We pick up everything what could be heard there. Some QSOs are very hard. You can hear the station S9+, but he can’t get our call and control number! Sometimes the situation changes the other way! This year, 10m is more than capricious. We were convinced in that, again. Therefore, each QSO on 10m is more valuable! In certain moments, it’s possible to run 2-3 QSOs a minute rate. But after one hour we had to QSY. Conditions were "switched off".

About 4+ hours before the contest end I go to the run station chair. Sure, I’m excited at first, - I had no team contesting experience for the last 15-20 years. But I managed my emotions, and the run goes fine! In any case, this was 5-7 QSOs per minute! Last few hours we change 20m and 15m, CW and SSB. I spent these hours like one breath! One sip of mineral water, - and go ahead again! But.. it’s 12.00. That’s it, the contest is over. 24 hours flew as one moment! We didn’t reach everything we wanted to reach, but we are greatly satisfied. Tired but happy, we are coming outside. Morse code in my ears and "Five Nine Mike America" also. I understand, this are "residual effects"?

We sum up preliminary results. We understand, we lost to UP5G, but we understand also, that was fairly! UP5G is a modern and equipped contest position. Our EY0R looked like "a field day site". Anyway, I think, our result is deserving! At least, we are guaranteed the first place in Tadjik! ? ?

Our final clamed score was:

Category: MOST                
Band: ALL                     
Power: HIGH                   
Mode: MIXED                   
Software: N1MM Logger V4.0.192 
Band    QSOs    Mults         

160:      74       68         
80:      249       82         
40:      675      119         
20:      905      128         
15:      757      123         
10:      118       51         
Total:  2778      571         
Score:  12421      534          

In general, whatever we did, that was what we scored (hi)!

The life is running! After the contest we realized, we are hungry. Our hosts told us we're going for meals now. Everyone greets this news "hurray"! We freshen ourselves up a bit, shave (shaving was strictly forbidden before the contest, - it’s a bad omen! Hi), we also took a few photos by a burn down armoured troop-carrier. The photo looks picturesque. Later, one of these photos takes its place on the QSL card!

Well, we are in "Niva" again, we proceed to the center of the city, "Kellers' restaurant. It is a very respectable restaurant, even for Moscow criteria. We thought, this is "new Tadjiks' meeting place. Respectable cars by the entrance, respectable people in expensive dresses. In general, all attributes of success!

We said that with our score in the contest we deserved a student dining room as a maximum, but our hosts forgave us, and we ordered a brazier. I’m not sure the name is correct, but there was plenty meat there! This very delicious dish was swallowed quite fast.

I should say that Tadjik food is very balanced and tasty! At least, that dishes we had, we liked them very much! Tadjik vodka "Shokhona" was also very tasty! With its decent price (approximately 80 RUR), it gives odds to any Russian and expensive foreign drinks.

By the way, we also noted, goods and food in Tajikistan are much cheaper than in Russia. But imported goods (say, "Baltika" beer, nuts, chips, chewing gum and cigarettes) are twice expensive than, say, in Moscow. These are economic paradoxes! ?

We go home. On our way, and at the site we discuss the results, exchange our impressions. I set down at the station again and hurried up to fill up my log with new contacts. The pile-up is endless! 30m, 40m, 80m, 160m, 40m and 30m again. The total QSO number exceeded 1500. Everybody could work EY0R in the contest, up to one's heart's content. But no, - they call like a solid wall, in 3-4 KHz bandwidth (this is suppressed split, I could make it much wider!). Most contacts are in CW, no to trouble sleeping guys. We operated phone mainly in the day time. Unfortunately, due to time lack, we were not QRV in digital modes. Let’s make it the reason of the next Tadjik DX-peditions!

My strength leaves me by 3 a.m. and I switch the rig off. The last 24 hours were very busy! Sergey’s RX3APM mobile phone rings. It’s Igor RA3AUU, and we knew amended UP5G score. Our gap finally was about 300 QSOs. Well, it’s quite natural.

Tactical mistakes in the night, and the difference in the equipment, where we stand down, affected the final results. Well, but the pleasure was great!

The guys in Alma-Ata are going to the airport already. We have one more day ahead of us at this hospitable land. That was it. We felt asleep.

The morning is as usual for us, the "owls", unhappy. Nodir wakes us up. We slept 3-4 hours only. But I understand: this is my last day here, and I open my eyes.

It’s bright sunny outside. It’s unusually warm, some +22°C. A real summer!

After the breakfast I sit at the TRX again! I use my last possibility to be on the air. I tried to concentrate mainly on WARC bands and HF in general.

Everything is the same, - after some 2 minutes somebody puts my call into the cluster, and the show starts!… Despite of Monday, a lot of Russian stations on the band, a lot of friends. Cold weather in European Russia did not finish. That’s why our temperature of plus 22-230C in Tadjik is more pleasant. I take my dress off, and go outside with a pleasure and with a hope to get sunburn a bit! No way to become brown, - but how pleasant is it!

Sasha EY8CQ called us to go to the city. At first, spring festival begun here - Navruz. I’m interested how does it look like! One more visit to the bazaar, for souvenirs and gifts…

We set down into EY8CQ’s "Moskvich", and proceeded to the bazaar. Because of the warm weather and holiday (Navruz is the day-off), there are plenty people on the streets. People are festive dressed, they have children with them. We pass the stadium where the public festival is underway. We really feel the holiday atmosphere. Sasha said, one could note this the two last years only. There was a fear of the civil war before. The fear did not allow the people to go outside quietly, to walk and celebrate holidays. In general, I had impression that Tajikistan today is a very quiet country. The government could place everything in order during the last years! Though, drug routes are passing through the country, drug trading inside Tajikistan itself id not in progress that much like in Russia. Tadjik government could stop uncontrolled arms trading. You can imagine how difficult it should in the country that stopped war recently!

We do not forget, the border with troubled Afghanistan is so close here. This tells a lot. At the same time, nobody can say that Tajikistan is an authoritarian state. Some restrictions exist, of course. Believe me, they are not similar to some Mid-Asia ex-USSR states! The country is on the way towards its future, and I sincerely wish Tajikistan has no troubles and barriers on this way!

I'm not going to tell you about the country itself, and the capital, people, traditions, living level, culture and education, about literature and life span… This was very interesting for me, I tried to know Tajikistan and the people as much as possible. Those who would like to know that, please write me an e-mail, - I’ll tell you the detailed story. The better way out, - take a visit to this country, you won’t be sorry!

Well, we are at the bazaar. We come through endless pile-ups. Our goal is Tadjik national caftan for Vlad! ?

After a pair of rounds we finally found what we’re looking for. The caftan is super!

We were lucky not to make a fatal error – if you are in Asia, and if you do not bargain with the seller, - this means you may abuse him! EY8CQ, as a true bargainer, starts a dialog, others joining in. Finally the lower price agreed, everybody is happy, and UA4LU took the caftan on! His dream came through! ?

It’s noon, the sun warmed the city up to 25°C. Why the previous days were not the same?! We hurry up to the site. We stay on the air. I’m trying to run across 15, 17 and 12 meter bands, switching CW and SSB modes. Total QSO number exceeded 1800. The guys started to dismantle the rig. EY8MM takes home what he brought from there, the rest we place as it was before our "invasion". We put the shack into classic view. We pack our things, our skull-caps also (my scull-cup is on the transceiver in my shack now). It’s time to say goodbye now. Following the Russian tradition, we sit down "for lucky trip", then embrace with Sasha EY8CQ. Vlad’s flight is 3 hours later than our flight, - he stays in the shack. We said bye to Vlad also.

UA4CC and RX3APM set into the car, Nodir and Artyom EY8BA come to get us to the airport. After some round across the city (some streets are closed for normal traffic due to President’s routes), we finally arrived at the airport. We said bye to our hosts and went to the registration. No problem with the customs formalities. I noted, custom control in Dushanbe is much more quite than in Moscow. The only thing you have to tell to the custom officer, - you liked your stay in Tajikistan, - and all your problems will gone. The most interesting thing, this was plain truth. ?

That’s it. We feel sad the festival is over...

We boarded into TU-154. The plane starts the runway. It’s beautiful sunset over the mountains, the lightings signs are far away. We took off just under "thunderstorm’s nose". The flight to Moscow was normal. The talks are not so hot, – we feel melancholy, and got tired the previous days. The plane got in to Domodedovo at 22.00. It was -7°C, windy and snowing. Look at the contrast; +25 and -7! ?

We do customs and pass control quickly and go to the entrance. Sergey has to be in time for the train to Paveletsky Railway Station, Moscow. The next train is in 1 hour. I go to the "Air-Hotel", as my flight to Saratov is on the next morning.

I’m home the next day, at 11.00. As though, as if there were neither a few thousand kilometers, nor two time zone, nor my travel from winter into summer and back.

Everything finished... Well, it’s time to sum up. EY8/UA4CC made over 1800 QSOs. EY8/UA4LU made over 2500 QSOs, and EY8/RX3APM all gave out the country to many "thirsty" hams. In RDXC the EY0R team made 2778 QSOs and scored 12 421 534 points.

QSL cards are printed (I suppose, they are quite worthy!) and ready for sending them out. Direct cards will be replied to in the same way. Bureau cards – through the bureau. For those who prefer bureau cards, may request them through e-mail, along with QSO data.

Our operation would not be possible without great efforts, huge time and money inputs of our friends who organized our visit and our stay at Tadjik land. They are Nodir EY8MM, Alexander EY8CQ, Artyom EY8BA, and many other EY hams. Thank you, friends!

Once again, we express our gratitude to Mrs. L.G.Kovalevskaya, the Head of the Federal Inspection of Communications of Tajikistan.

Have a look at some DXpedition photos at The path to Photogallery – UA4CC is:

The DXpedition to Tajikistan is a history now. To tell you the secret, I seriously think about coming to Dushanbe one more time!

73! А. Voloshin UA4CC