Instead of spending one month in Iran as we planned before, we stayed there seven weeks. After such a long time we got used to the Iranian people and their behaviour, to the landscape and architecture, to the rules and the everyday life. The sound of Persian did not seem strange any more.

Still it was time to leave and start a new adventure, it was time to move forward into Central Asia. Again we felt excited about entering a new and unknown country – Turkmenistan. The procedure at the border was not complicated but took some time with scanning all our bags, filling out stupid declaration papers, paying taxes and chatting with the officials about who we are and where we go. Mat’s knowledge of Russian helped us to deal with the border administration and seems to be very useful for the next months in the Stans. Crossing another border left us without any doubt, that the officials working there are just as dumb as they could be. On the Iranian side one guy has been wondering for five minutes, why there is no Persian name of Poland in my passport (Poland is “Lechistan” in Persian). At the Turkmen office a young officer was trying to figure out (using all his fingers), which month is the 10th (finally Anna told him that it is October). Next he insisted to get our addresses, even though there was no place for it to put in the book. The cherry on top was not putting the entry stamps into our passports (this is THE ONLY THING they do all day long and still they did not do it), we had to go back to the border office to finally get it…

Only after a few minutes in Turkmenistan we realized how colourful life can be. Women in long dresses and scarf’s of different colours and patterns, shining around with their golden teeth. All Turkmen people turned out to be very friendly, smiling, helpful and very welcoming!

Being on the former Silk Road we meet quite a lot of other cyclists. We exchange some information about the routes and road conditions, share similar experiences and health problems and sometimes take a ride together.

With Wychar from the Netherlands we decided to cycle through the desert landscape of Turkmenistan. On a five days transit visa, 500 km to cross and the summer hot with temperatures up to 50° some people say that it is “insane and unfortunate” to be there in the months of July and August.

The only way to survive these demanding conditions was to start the day at 4:30 am and cycle until 11 am when the heat already makes you suffer, take a break for lunch and a nap until 16 and later cycle as long as your legs can still move and your eyes are not too tired from the sand and the darkness. This rhythm worked out for four days but at the end some health problems forced us to take a lift. A nice and friendly truck driver helped us out, so we were able to get a rest and manage to leave the country on time.

The roads in Turkmenistan were much worse than we expected – even the main roads reminded us of the worst rural roads we know from home… Cycling on a road like that, with the desert heat and a bike loaded with many litres of water is a nightmare! We rarely reached a speed higher than 16 km/h.

We did not see much – we had to push very hard to manage to cross the desert on time. But what we saw was rather unusual – Camels on the streets, yurts, golden statues of former president – Niyazov and leftovers from the Soviet time.

Due to Mat’s health problems the last day, we had a pleasure to spend one night in a charming Turkmen (Soviet) hotel in Turkmenabat. This luxurious suite even had a bathroom (better not to show it) and a working air conditioning! After long negotiations we paid only 30 dollars for it! Unbelievable!

We had only 5 days to see Turkmenistan, so we did not have much time to meet the locals, but from what we managed to see it seemed to be a very interesting country and we will be back there, when they become more open for the tourists.

Instead of spending one month in Iran as we planned before, we stayed there seven weeks. After such a long time we got used to the Iranian people and their behaviour, to the landscape and architecture, to the rules and the everyday life. The sound of Persian did not seem strange any more.

But still it was time to leave and start a new adventure, to move forward into Central Asia. Again we felt excited about entering a new and unknown country – Turkmenistan. The procedure at the border was not complicated but took some time with scanning all our bags, filling out some declaration papers, paying taxes and chatting with the officials about who we are and where we go. Mats knowledge of Russian helped us to deal with the border administration and seems to be very useful for the next months in the Stans.