Wednesday, 29 December 2010


Although the factory Straume doesn't exist for ages, you can still find its plate and logo in Riga. In Soviet times it was well-know for its production of toys and coffee-grinders.
Photo by (c) Arnis Balcus

Monday, 6 December 2010


Dozens of shops in Riga have already given a Christmas feel to their windows. This one on Marijas street has used just a bit of paper and scissors to create snowflakes, just like kids used to do in good old times.
Photo by (c) Arnis Balcus

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Escape way

This mural on Artil─ôrijas street in Riga is from WWII. It points in Latvian and German: "escape way- Ziedona garden" where the bomb shelter was located.
Photo by (c) Arnis Balcus

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Dushanbe II

In the National museum of history the key historical person is the current president.

The museum also features a few interesting paintings...

..and also items that all Tajik people can be proud of, such as cans for milk.

Cement factory.

Soviet times social ad - don't let the children play with electricity.

"Glory to..."

"... the friendship..."

"...of all nations!"

Scary children's amusement park.

Russian school with dads - Tajik and Russian presidents.


It says "photo", perhaps it means there's a photography lab in the tunnel.

Local circus.

And here's a small collection of Soviet soda vending machines that can be still found all over the streets of Dushanbe. All of them were out of order, unfortunately.

Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Dushanbe I

On the outskirts of Dushanbe stands a huge cement factory. All the walls have been painted with propaganda staff.

This is a cheap and good place to eat. It's called "Soviet bistro" and is decorated with Soviet memorabilia.

In Dushanbe some sort of wedding dress cult has spread all over the city.

A wedding dress can be found even outside the main department store...

..and inside it.

The store hasn't changed that much for the past 30 years.

And this place is called "salesman's corner" and has a quote of Maxim Gorky - "just in the work and only in the work a man's great".

The main park in the centre and the president's palace in the middle.

The alternative to begging is to make business with offering people to weight them. Very popular all over ex-USSR.

And people also make money by working as telephone attendands.

Another optimistic propaganda poster of the president.

The main post office.

Events list of the local opera. Look at the hours when the plays take place - it's only mornings. Opera in Dushanbe is for kids only.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Iskander Kul

Iskander Kul is a mountain lake about 130 km north from Dushanbe.

The lake is beautiful but very cold in September. It is located at an altitude of 2195 m, so it is warm enough to swim there only for a short period in July and August.

Next to the lake is a holiday camp. In Soviet times it must have been a luxurious resort but now it reminds a backpackers camp.

And there's also a restaurant next to the lake. Didn't work, the season was over.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


To reach Dushanbe we hired a car with a driver in Penjikent. Although it's 225 km, the journey took almost 7 hours due to many stops and road condition. These kind of objects signify the presence of an inhabited locality.

The car goes up and down the hills. The weather changes from hot to cold.

It seems they have got the road police after every 20 km. The guys in the red car perhaps did not want to pay the bribe so the police searched their car.

On the way there are quite a few villages. This is a department store in one of them.

And this is a bus stop with a star built in.

Next to old factories colorful Soviet times mosaics can be found...

...or murals.

Animals cannot climb the rocks everywhere to feed themselves thus they wander on the roads. Sometimes they cause road accidents. For instance, I saw a dead donkey.

Most of the road is in poor condition and very dangerous to Western standards. Look at those traffic signs - at the same time you should expect curve, steep uphill and slippery road. Don't even dream of hiring a car and driving yourself if you come from a flat land country.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus