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Old 04-05-2013, 12:44 PM   #32
eustachius OP
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Austria
Oddometer: 95
I rode up to the border post of Bajgiran/Gaudan. It was a beautiful ride through the mountains. There were again a lot of trucks waiting. It took me about 30 minutes to get out of Iran. They stamped my passport and my carnet (important!). Nobody searched my luggage. I bought some Manat with the Iranian money that I had left. There are people who will ask you if you are interested in this transaction.
I drove on to the Turkmen post. It was lunchtime, so the customs officials had their 2-3 hour break. I was waiting in the company of some Turkish engineers, 2 Japanese tourists and local people. Waiting seemed to be a routine to them.
When there was some movement in the crowd, I queued in front of a counter hoping that this would lead to something. Unfortunately it didn't. The customs formalities were pretty confusing. I was sent here and there, officials were filling in forms for me, stamped them, I had to pay insurance for the bike, road tax, importation tax and so on. Everything was written by hand. They marked my route through Turkmenistan on a small map which I had to show in case of police checks and which I had to hand in at the border to Uzbekistan. It took me about 3 hours to get out of customs. I was very hungry and thirsty. Important for border crossings in this area: Never arrive on an empty stomach and a full bladder.

And on I went to Ashgabat.

This town is incredible. Large parts of it are new, it's clean, it's marble and glass and gold, but where are the crowds you would expect?

I was looking for a cheap guesthouse I had read about, but it was no more. There is much construction going on everywhere and entire blocks are pulled down.

This gentleman helped me to find a hotel in the centre of town. We agreed to meet later in the evening to have a beer together. BEER!!!

The driver who took us to the beer-garden. It's quite normal to wave down a private car in the street. You agree on the fare and it's your taxi.

Cold beer and spare ribs!

A lot of construction is going on in the whole city and a lot of Toyota Camry's. This is not a very common car in Europe.

This was in the Russian bazaar.

My bike was parked in front of the Hotel Ashgabat. I paid 50$ a night. It was worth it, with air-conditioning, private shower and bathroom, balcony and centrally located.
It was 40C during the day and very warm till late at night. I knew I had to get up early in the morning to cover some kilometres before the sun was too high up.
Ashgabat is unique. The question remains, to what extent do all these empty palaces serve the common people? What about schools? hospitals? roads?

View from my balcony.

eustachius screwed with this post 04-16-2013 at 12:46 PM
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