Three cyclists – briefly. Tea with the nomads. Riding the camels. Bats fluttering around in a huge cavern. Camping looking out over the wide expanse of barren, dry landscape. The desert is near.
I pulled up. And turned. A German number plate. It was a German that had driven from Munich, and was heading for Tajikistan. We met him again 2 km further down the road, where he had caught up with Thomas – another German cyclist that I had met in Tehran at the Turkmenistan embassy, and then again yesterday in Mashhad. Briefly there were three of us – Michael, Thomas and me. Michael continued when we stopped to say hello to some nomads, and we didn’t see him again.
The nomads invited us in to have a cup of tea.
Then, just a few hundred metres further down the road, we saw camel herders. Before we knew it, we were on top of a camel, plying through the herd. It was a challenge getting off the camel. The camel didn’t like it much, groaned a lot, and refused to be patted. It was an amazing experience passing through the masses of camels. We were really welcomed by the lovely camel herders. They invited us for tea, but we had to move on.
Our camp is on the top of a mountain ridge that passes through the flat desert. From our tents, you can see for miles and miles over the arid plains below. Behind us is an entrance to a massive cavern inside the rock. We entered with our head torches to marvel at the bats circling. We are under the kind protection of the men from the military base. They showed us the caves, and are making sure we are safe.