I'm tired, my contacts hurt, it's hot and I am eeking out Internet in the Grand Turkmen lobby surrounded by prostitutes.
Hello from Turkmenistan!
After a long drive from Tehran yesterday, we stayed in Goochan. The next day we drove hungry to the border (no restaurants open on Ramazan of course). Luckily Jamie stopped to cook up some noodles from a side road in the hills. If we didn't I probably would have lost my mind later at the crossing.
At the border we bumped into a team from Iceland called https://mud-lab.com/. Before we were thinking we must be one of the last teams. On the top of the Iran side we bumped into "Team Tigers" and "Two random Germans" who have been stuck waiting for a Turkmen invitation for days. So it was great to feel that whole "Adventurists Mongol Rally" spirit again after a week in Iran.
The "Two random Germans" team asked to interview us which we agreed to, and after an hour or two of processing we met them to give an interview. Little did we know the Iranian official was waiting for us. He came over to us after a few minutes to say "come back tomorrow". My heart sank and I really though we might be trapped in Iran.
Don't get me wrong, I love Iran and it was a real shame that official decided to threaten us. Later he did let us cross.
Turkmenistan was almost more farcical than the Iran side. A ton of bureaucracy, expense (we are completely out of US dollars) and we were through. Unfortunately we had to tell them our route and later we thought this might have been a mistake, since we might want to do a diversion to Darvaza, to the "Gates of Hell".
Coming down from the mountainous border to Ashgabat was frankly incredible. At first one see a collection of modern-ish white building in the haze. As you get closer you see architecture that looks like it came out of Star Wars. Tbh I quite like the look, but it's just scarily unbelievable. I guess this might be like Dubai. Most buildings looked wholly unoccupied... ummm this doesn't make sense. [The heat of this city might mean that folks stay out of sight though.]
We drove in convoy with the Icelandic team and we were really worried about getting our car fined since it was dirty. There is just too much weird stuff in Turkmenistan for me to give it justice in this blog.
Over dinner with the Icelanders we remarked how odd if was to see a women's hair and legs (the Russian speaking waitresses) after sipping some Baltika no.7 and clinking some local Vodka. Iran had affected us.
I wanted to quickly mention we met another team called "Mongols to Mongolia" in the hotel restaurant which I found delightful. They are the first team of Mongolians doing the rally from London back to their home Mongolia!!
I have a ton of cool video and pictures to upload, but sadly despite checking into a recommended LP top pick with Internet. The internet is even WORSE than Iran (FB, twitter etc. are filtered also), which is a remarkable achievement. I really hope by Uzbekistan things improve, so we can share more. Also we have absolutely no roaming on our phones (emergency calls only), so please email us.
Good night... when I wake up... Believe you me it's going to be one of those WTF moments.