I am now in Bukhara, Uzbekistan after a few long days through the desert in Iran and Turkmenistan.
The last couple of days in Iran were spent cycling through HOT(!), dry desert with some nice camping spots.
And some shady spots[SinglePic not found]
After reaching the border between Iran/Turkmenistan it was time to face the Turkmenistan beaurocracy. Like I mentioned earlier I only received a five day transit-visa so the welcoming feeling to this country was not enormous. After filling out 20 papers or so I started heading towards the Uzbekistan border 530km northeast of were i was.[SinglePic not found]
After a couple of hours I stopped at a small village where I very quickly noticed how friendly and welcoming the Turkmen people are. It was great to see some female faces again after four weeks in Iran.[SinglePic not found]
In order to make it to the Uzbek border in time I needed to average a minimum of 110km per day. This is usually not a problem, but throughout the whole Turkmenistan cycling I had a strong headwind, blowing sand and roads in bad shape. Because of this my average speed was dreadfully slow, so I had to get up at around 05am before the sun came out to eat som breakfast and then cycle nonstop for 10 hours until the sun set once again.
Since I only had five days in Turkmenistan and nearly only saw desert I cant really say to much about the country, except that crossing the country in the south is boring(!), but the people are lovely. Turkmenistan had intrigued me quite a bit before I went on this trip after reading up on the country. First of all I was curious as to why they dont want foreign visitors, but also how a country would be functioning with such a strange president that they had up until 2006.
Here are some of the weird things the old president did:
- In 2001, forbidding young men to wear long hair or beards.
- In June 2001, requiring foreigners wishing to marry a Turkmen national to pay a $50,000 fee.
- In 2002, renaming bread from chorek, the traditional Turkmen word, to Gurbansoltan edzhe after his mother.
- In January 2006, Russian media reported he had ordered to stop paying pensions to 1/3 (more than 100,000) of the countrys elderly people, cutting pensions to another 200,000, and ordering to pay the pensions received in the past two years back to the State. This has supposedly resulted in a huge number of deaths of old people, who may have had their pension (ranging from $10 to $90) as the only source of money.
- In February 2005, ordering the closure of all hospitals outside Ashgabat, saying that if people were ill, they could come to the capital; also ordering the closure of all rural libraries of Turkmenistan, saying that ordinary Turkmens do not read books anyway.
After my five days in Turkmenistan I entered Uzbekistan.
Only being here for a couple of days so far this country and its people have really made an amazing impression on me. The Uzbeki people are in my opinion the nicest people during my whole trip so far. Bukhara where I am at the moment is a small town with a nice old city and some very nice sites to see (if you enjoy that kind of thing).
Anyone up for a carpet? This one is only 300 euros![SinglePic not found]
I will stay here another two days and then cycle towards Tajikistan during the next 8-10 days. Tajikistan is hopefully going to be one of the major highlights of this trip! More to come later… ciao!