Day 133. 110km. Sarakhs – Hauz-Han

Posted: September 11, 2015 in Cycling, Iran, Turkmenistan
Tags: , , , ,

A lizard darts across the hot, dusty road. We stop, and watch the black beetle waddle past. On either side is a flat, bare expanse – just a few shrubs dotted around, and the sun blasting down from above. Turkmenistan nature. And the people! Beautiful, friendly, and such wonderful clothes. We’ve now tasted Turkmenistan and are addicted.

In the Turkmenistan desert

In the Turkmenistan desert

We greeted the same unfriendly people at the border crossing at Iran. They were surprised we were back so quickly from Mashhad. Our papers were checked, and it looked like it was going to be another long affair before they waved us through.

We crossed the bridge over the wet patch in the dry earth that is the border. Our first experience with the beautiful clothes of the beautiful Turkmenistan people. A camouflage uniform with a floppy broad brimmed hat. A belt with a shiny metal buckle with the Turkmenistan stars.
‘Welcome to Turkmenistan!’

The women all wear a bright, colourful head scarf – such colour matches their broad smiles and the twinkle in their eyes. A small boy introduces himself in English, and asks how he can help. Everyone waves and everyone looks happy.

And then an indication of the other aspect in this country – the Turkmenistan state is watching. In the evening we are taken to our hotel room / dining room and are told to not to leave it. It is a holiday, and the hotel is meant to be closed. The hall lights are off, and the water is turned off. If the police find they are open on this happy holiday, there will be ‘problem’. I know there is a language barrier, but understand the importance of keeping quiet. Who knows what is allowed and what not on this joyous occasion adorned with a holiday.

A highlight of today was the cycling. The road was small, and void of people – a truck or car passes every half an hour. Stop, and the silence reigns. It was warm, and the steady side wind worked as an airconditioner. The road was often like a slalom course through the desert. Avoiding the holes called for concentration.

The Turkmenistan desert

The Turkmenistan desert

The Turkmenistan desert

The Turkmenistan desert

On speaking to an Italian cyclist, we realized that the total distance to be travelled is under 500km. We’re going to try to do it – cross the country by bike in 4 days – not 5. We don’t have 5 days in our visa any more. It is going to be a real Turkmen dash.

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Matt
    It’s been wonderful to read your blog. Particularly recently. Your writing has changed in the last week or two. Lovely. If that’s anything to go by, despite everything, you’re doing well!

    Keep going. I love reading about it.

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