6 – 9 September 2016
This section covers 500k through Turkmenistan predominantly on main road M37. At the same time finishing Central Asia, meant a big milestone of 50,000k for this round the world trip. I was lucky to get the rare 5-day transit visa, but that’s what it was – transiting straight from Farab to Sarahs without the possibility of detouring even if I had the time. So I had no expectations and no plans for any sightseeing – just pushing for Iran.
Some parts had rolling hills though mostly it was fairly flat, at least compared to the previous countries I have navigated. About 2/3 was through desert while the rest was through dry or sometimes irrigated farmland primarily cotton plantations. In the desert the temperature was close to 50C in the shade (of which there was none) while it was slightly lower in the valleys. It was about 50/50 decent and bad roads of which the last stretch to the Iranian border offered 40k of Kyrgyz horrible road where the bike got some serious pounding and a front rack screw broke.
Being in remote areas camping was easy except one day in the cultivated valley close to Mary. The third evening, I had one of the strangest experiences ever. While setting up camp, a guy passed in his truck on a small road behind the tent (and main road). He greeted me back but then he just sat there studying me for 45 minutes until 4 friends came in a car. Only "hello, where are you from?" before they spent 5 minutes looking through my stuff and left as quickly as they had arrived. Very strange and somewhat disconcerting, so for the first time ever I hid my valuables in a bush overnight thinking they might come back, but they never did.