After seeing nothing but humble villages and even the largest town (Khorog) with a little wear-and-tear out in eastern Tajikistan, it was jarring to see the roads improve rapidly and the level of development rise once we continued into the west and left the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border. The scenery changes into a generally more monotonous flat, hot, and dry valley, and I found myself missing the dramatic Wakhan and Pamir mountains pretty quickly.
There were exceptions though: aside from the fleeting glimpse of the ultra-blue Nurek Reservoir, take the clearly-reconstructed yet still very different sight of the Hulbuk Fortress, dating back to the 11th century. There was a wedding going on outside. Joined by Israelis Oren, Erit, and Ido on our ride with Munar to Dushanbe, Oren must now have cemented himself as a legendary figure who descended upon a wedding party, proceeded to dance circles around everyone, then disappeared as the police broke up the party before even getting to introduce himself. Heh.
Then a few hundred more kilometres and then bam, Dushanbe.