And into Uzbekistan
Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
109Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Breakfast was served by some guy in jeans and a vest, who came in from sweeping the floors. Acceptable meal, but I still think the hotel was only opened for us, and then at a push.
Set off on the road, which once again was mixed quality. We stopped off at Merv, to see some ruins. Quite interesting, then we came upon a bridal party at the one ruin. All the traditional yurts on display, wedding camels and all the trappings. Tooka photo of the set up, whereupon a load of the bridesmaids(?) wanted to have their pictures taken with me. What a going on!!! Eventually I managed to escape, so they congregated round Martin
Pushed on, had lunch and eventually got to the border. Only stopped by 2 sets of police on the way today.
Batyr got us through the Turkmen side. You'd think that leaving a country is easy, well let me assure you it isn't. All sorts of paperwork. Then batyr left us and we proceeded to the Uzbekistan side. There was al queue of about 50 lorries waiting, so we passed them all and I asked the soldier what we should do. Left the car in a parking space and proceeded on foot.First stop is a medical. Take your temperature, and ask "any problems?" You've passed. Then passports. They get a great laugh over a GB passport, but entered it in the book. Next stop customs (we missed the veterinary office, thankfully) where we filled in a form, in duplicate. They recorded all the details, as if they are going to cross reference it when we leave. Registred the car to me. Some countries are so pernickity, some really just want to get you in.Then had the forms vetted, had the car checked by customs (as usual they are more interested in the car and what is under the bonnet than smuggling, thank goodness!), past another sentry, and we drive off to the final gate, where another sentry checks us again. And we are now in Uzbekistan
Roads arent nearly as bad as we were told they would be, in TM, so we motor along. Past some police, who only have a passing interest. Only got stopped once.Satnav tells us there are hotels here, so I'm directing Martin where to go, when he says, "here's a hotel, shall we try this one?" So here we are in a comfortable hotel, $40 for the night, very attentive staff. Had a good meal, 3 beers between us (5.6%!), used the internet, what more could a man want. Oh, and the mobiles work again, so all is well.
Mileage 408 km. Work it out for yourself, I cant.
Martin's Merv moment:Ruins are lost on me.All I need is a bloke waving an old walking stick at a model made out of the same materials as the ruin and I'm a gonner.I don't think it was a wedding party - today was some kind of special day and a grand display was put on at this holy place for the benefit of visiting dignitaries.We were the cabaret.What was so surprising was how charming and friendly the young girls were - a situation which Roger and I would have avoided at all costs in UK for fear of being seen as predators. We are more like toothless agitators.Anyway the roads are literally a pain in the ***e and they are either going to take Roger's kidney's out or the steering on the Morris.And you can guess which bits are easier to come by out here.I have this instinct for watering holes - remember Canada Mary? and I knew when we pulled up in front of this hotel that we had arrived.Most particularly because I couldn't see anyway around it.For the first time in the entire trip I would like to stay on here for a while - probably cannot be done though.We are in an old city (not ruins!)Came up with an idea this morning over our disco breakfast that we might miss out Kzyrgystan in order to avoid altitude issue.We'll keep you posted.The disco? Every eating establishment in TM has blaring music - inside and out.This pop music stuff will be their ruin,mark my words.Uzbek seems a very laid back place.Rog got coffee and sweets while I was going through customs and they seemed determined to help us through.An Iranian lorry driver gave us the nod about parking up and going through ahead of lorries.Later we passed him on the road and he flashed his lights for us to pull over.Just wanted to say hello and wish us well.Earlier in day in TM had been pulled over by another lorry and then sandwiched between him and his mate's vehicle.Just wanted their photos taken with car.Again Iranians who seem very likeable characters.They apparently have no angst about Brits but don't care for Americans.Polis score today TM 2 ,Uzbek 1"Now Vladmir as a new recruit to our highly esteemed polis department (by the way thanks for the 32000M contribution) you can drive around all day in a 5 Series BMW and stop anyone you like and fine them anything you like for anything you can think of.Well not everyone.if they have AA on their numberplate they are government and 666 Mafia.So these monies then cascade upwards and all take a share according to rank.However if you cannot meet the full contribution I am happy to place you on point duty.This may be some way out of the nearest town with no shade or transport.Do not worry - you will be given a serge suit and a big hat to shade you from the sun.And a parasol.Well not quite a parasol,its a 12 inch stripey stick with a thong on the end that you can wave at any car that catches your eye"Roger is studying his Cyrillic alphabet so must be time to sign off.