Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan – a place rarely visited but an interesting choice if you like deserts. We drove from top to bottom. A long stretch through the Karakum with a stop in a desert town and a chance meeting with a random fishseller offering fermented camel’s milk from her hot place in the overbearing sun. Not sure where the fish came from in the desert but I certainly wasn’t going to try it. We decided to visit the Gates of Hell to negotiate my soul back only to find that getting too close to the edge was a pretty ominous feeling. I had to leave that one for another day.

Arriving in Ashgabat I felt like I had entered the world of Blade Runner. A marble city that at night was totally surreal and futuristic. We could catch a ride with just about anyone driving past as long as we had US$5. It didn’t really matter if there were more than 4 of us, we could all fit in the smallest of cars even if we were sitting on top of each other.

The place got even stranger when we asked to go to the best restaurant in town only to be taken to the dingy back streets, where after entering a seedy apartment block, walked the narrow stairs to a door that opened into an immaculate open air restaurant with jazz singers and excellent service.

A quick whip around on a Turkmeni Akhal-Teke racehorse and my trip was almost done.

Crossing the border at both ends from Uzbekistan is an experience. With one kilometre of no-mans land in between you don’t want to lose your passport.

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