After just 1 rest day in Bukhara, I had to move on to the turkmen border, to enter into this mysterious country in time.
Unfortuneately my mate, personal lifecoach and private cook and royal teabrewer Poul was knocked out by a serious fever, so I was alone again.
It felt weird somehow to ride alone again after our recent reunion in Samarkand, but hey, the show must go on. Just kidding….it’s not a show…however.
I reached the border with the sunset of the first day of October and realised that I was the only tourist in midst of all the truckers.
With my last toilet paper currency, the almighty ‘Uzbek som’ , I could effort a shabby room for the night, wich actually saved me from the tons of mozzies outside.
The next morning I went straight to the border to start the whole process. Within 10 minutes I went through the Uzbek side and after a while I was coldly greeted by the massive portrait of a hypocritically smiling gentleman, who was and is the turkmen president.
The border crossing process was smooth, friendly and easy and soon I rolled on Turkmen roads towards turkmenabat, the first city.
Without any problems I changed some us-dollars into manat for a brilliant rate with some local women.
I had a little breakfast in town and was soon in good company with the locals. One of the guys was quite fluent in English and asked me ‘oscar, please write about us!’. I found that pretty exciting, and yes, I will.
Already the first day in Turkmenistan showed me how good and lovely the people are. I was given money, free food, water, lots of handshakes and best wishes only within the first 3 hours in turkmenabat and must admit: that’s pretty awesome!!
I stocked up on water and snacks, passed the few police checkpoints and rolled into the karakum desert. I really enjoy deserts because of the free space they give to me. It’s space I can fill with thoughts and dreams. Only few cars in the deserts makes it a really pleasant area to cycle in, at least as long as the wind is with you. With a good tailwind I made it to a total of 166km that day and stopped right at sunset near a family owned roadhouse. Soon I realised that the people were kind and friendly and willing to host me for the night. I had dinner with gadam, my host and his daughter. Gadam is 31 years old and even though he didn’t not really know English and I didn’t really know Russian, we still had a rich conversation about life.
I slept under the turkmen nightsky and was awake a few times just to see the stars and the moon half awake. I started early the next morning in order to get to Mary in time. Poul and me were supposed to meet there and surprisingly we really did. Can you imagine how difficult it is to meet someone, somewhere in a foreign country, unable to connect to the internet because everything is blogged and you still manage to do so? It was awesome to meet poul again and the third day in Turkmenistan we were reunited again. It turned out to be a good third day and we made a hundred kilometres. We stayed the night at a busy roadhouse that, unfortunately , was super busy at night.
A bit tired from the sleepless night we started our fourth day in Turkmenistan and had an early breakfast. Unfortunately, our longtime mate, the wind decided to do everything possible that day to make it a really hard one for us. He was actually a punch in our faces. Damn! A constant bloody wind blew from south against us and, yea, it was a tough day.
As we arrived to the turkmen border town ‘sarakhs’ we were stopped by a worker of the immigration office and soon we realised, all that he wanted was to guide us to a hotel out of town. I knew these kind of habits from Xinjiang. They don’t want tourist in certain areas and that’s okay.
As we woke up next day, we heard that something was wrong outside and as we had a look outside we were shocked. A serious desert storm outside.
It was too bad to ride the 15 kilometres to the border and that’s why we paid the hotel manager to give us a lift. Exiting Turkmenistan felt really good because it meant from now on we wouldn’t be as stressed as before due to our Iranian 30 day tourist visa. But iam more than happy that i was able to travel Turkmenistan for 5 days and had a chance in my life to meet turkmen people and to understand once again that even though the government might be crazy and corrupt, but the normal people are full of lovely, wonderfull welcoming individuals. Thanks to all the wonderfull turkmen people who supported me somehow!
Soon we saw the Iranian flag, and with Iran we enter a totally new culture and somehow maybe a new world too.