We never intended to cycle through Turkmenistan.
Instead, we were going to explore Pakistan and China. But visa hurdles sent us through Central Asia at the last minute and so we found ourselves doing the 1-week dash across the eastern corner of Turkmenistan. The restrictive visa timing doesn’t allow for any more (in fact now it’s just a 5 day visa).
We didn’t have much time to linger, but we did enjoy many cafe stops and the ancient wonder of Merv.
Some things are more enjoyable than others and for us we would rather be cycling backwards down a 10-lane highway at night than figuring out how in the world to get visas for Central Asia. What a nightmare. It’s impossible to get reliable information (the Uzbeks tell us something that contradicts other travellers and agencies).
It only takes a short time in the Middle East to learn just how much God takes care of here. Coming from the West, we are used to concrete answers for mundane questions. A straight yes or no will do just fine, thank you, when you want to know whether or not the store will
You can spot a fellow tourist a mile off in this part of the world so we quickly realised we had company when six fair-skinned young men with musical instruments walked by our campsite. We were eager to find out what their story was so we hurried up with our packing and rushed off to
One of the best parts about our trip has been filling in the blanks on the world map for all those countries we had no real impression of. Who really knows what Turkmenistan is like? For us, aside from a few vague ideas about grand statues of a dictatorial president and natural gas, we certainly
We woke up this morning to the wonders of Merv, an ancient city ruined by Ghengis Khan, on our doorstep. Merv is spread over a huge area and we managed to burn up nearly 20km by the time we were done looking around and back on the main road towards Uzbekistan. Of course we couldn’t
It’s a long haul through the desert that covers about ninety percent of Turkmenistan. We’re just on day four of our seven-day transit visa but already we’re a bit tired of the endless sand dunes and the wind that never quite seems to blow on our backs. The barren landscape is punctuated only by the
Turkmenistan’s cities are the most bizarre of our trip so far. Today we arrived in Turkmenabad, the country’s second biggest city. When we reached Mary a few days earlier we found it oddly deserted so this time we were hoping for a bit of life on the streets. We cycled down a long boulevard, wide
The Turkmenabad hotel was a little pricey for our tastes so we moved on this morning but not before we stopped to watch a few women in the kitchen preparing samsas for a nearby restaurant, putting chopping beef and onions into pastry, brushing the dough with chicken fat and baking the delicious looking treats for
“Any carpets? Drugs? Guns?” We shook our heads and giggled. The thought of carrying a carpet or a rifle on our bike tour was oddly funny to us. The guard smiled too. “We’ll search your bags, just to make sure there’s nothing dangerous.” Turkmenistan was trying to be thorough as we made our way through