Day 23 Samarkand to Turkmenabat

All right – today was a very early start in an attempt to get everyone through the border before dark – or to get them through period as the Uzbekistan border closes at 6 pm.

You have all seen the mountains that run along our left and the field of cotton and corn so I’ll not repeat that for today.

The one thing we never tire of is all the people lining the road, waving and cheering. Notice the change in dress, particularly the women, The colors are very bright and worn in interesting combinations. I guess we are really quite a show.


Then there are the mobs around what appear to be bus stops – you must be very careful passing these areas as grownups and children are likely to just bolt across the street.

And of course we still have the ever present police check points – have never figured out what they are checking – we got stopped by one officer who wanted to know what kind of a car we had (thank goodness) – nice guy, just laughed and sent us on our way.


We have no information about the gas shortage here but almost all stations look like this one – closed. Hope it ends soon as the lines of cars waiting to get gas is reminds us of the gas shortages in the 70’s.

This is another common scene – the kids love to stand on the jersey barriers to wave – they must have great balance as they seem to be there for hours.

This one is for Jim Taylor our friend and mentor for this event. This is a picture of David Ward and David Ingleby from the UK driving a 1914 Lancia Theta. Jim and David met on the 2007 Peking to Paris Rally – regards have been passed along to both. Note the 3rd man lying across the back of the car – I had to ask if he was related to Senior Barzini who accompanied Prince Bourgese in 1907 on the first Peking to Paris as a journalist – it did get a laugh but I can’t imagine he is very comfortable lying there over these distances.

This bazar is the largest in Bukhara and it was certainly busy. Saturday seems active and perhaps religious throughout the area.


Couldn’t resist one more shot of the kids and the donkey cart – also got a picture of someone taking our picture.

Now for the border – we arrived at the Uzbekistan exit processing at 11 and were through by 1 – unfortunately, that was the time the Turkmenistan processing of the drivers closed for lunch. If you were a navigator or passenger, processing was done in minutes and those folks must not get a lunch hour (or they have people to fill in). The lines below were what we found trying to process out of Uzbekistan – forget the cars, we never saw a truck move while we were there. The truck lines went on for a least a mile on each side of the border -some of them had to be there for days.

This is the Turkmenistan customs and immigration build – the 2:45 sign on the front of the building acknowledges that it was a gift of the US Government. Except for the lunch break, everyone went very well despite all the warnings we had received – a break for the good guys and we were gone by 2:45 – something less than 4 hours.

Once in Turkmenistan we experienced another night and day transition. The land immediately became arid and desert like – what a shame after getting used to Uzbekistan’s for more fertile land.


A funny thing happened when we were leaving the border – the police insisted they escort us into Turkmanbat – guess they thought we would get lost – maybe they were unaware we had traveled from Beijing to here without difficulty – who knows. Our escort waved traffic in both directions off the road with his baton – quite a show of authority.

We were then sent on our way over this floating pontoon bridge – perhaps the police were nervous about crossing.

Finally we arrived at our hotel for the evening – this happened after we had decided we were on the wrong road as noone whould put a hotel out of town on a road as bad as the day of “BIG HOLES IN THE ROAD – 17 kms”. Oh, did I say hotel – this is actually a sanitorium for the elderly and people recovering from a variety of diseases.

These are pictures of the staff and various patients which hand in the “lobby” (?) – no desk, just one of our blue shirted helpers to take us to our “rooms”.


Since I have nothing to compare I thought you might like to see our “Presidential Suite” which was located across the street from the main building and around the back. From the top left – the entry hall, the dressing room, the bath, one bedroom with a bed and couch, a second bedroom with three beds and the kitchen – what group was this designed for?


We discovered that our Australian friend Greg and Liz Newton had no room – apparently the hotel just sold it (wonder to whom) so we had them bunk in with us. Greg is really a tough guy. While we were in Sanmarkand, on his rest day Greg pulled the transmission on his Holden, replaced the flywheel and clutch in a pit. Previously, he had replaced his radiator and a variety of other things in order to keep going and he does all this by himself – what a guy. I forgot to mention that he is leading his class (the same one as we are in). Both Greg and Liz are very special people.

I can tell you that the pictures are flattering compared to reality – oh well, it’s only one night.

Finally, I guess we are lucky to be in the gardeners cottage as there is a Arabic disco blaring from somewhere in the main building – perhaps it is therapy for some of the patients. Probably for this part of the country this is a luxury suite (but it smells).

Tomorrow is another day and probably another adventure.










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4 Responses to Day 23 Samarkand to Turkmenabat

  1. Terry Langdon says:

    Thanks for the update guys. Pleased you did well at the border crossing & accommodation can only get better from here on.

    Press on regardless atb Terry Langdon (UK)

  2. Keith Carlson says:

    Congatulations on your journey and many thanks for letting the rest of us share it.
    My wife and I and friends toured the five ‘Stans last year, so particularly enjoy your observations in this part. You have an extraordinary, outlandish place coming up in Ashkabat.
    Please give my regards to Lloyd who may recall me and my 403 Bristol. We just hosted the pres of the BOC & wife who’re on their own tour, two years around the world in an open Bristol.
    Press on! and enjoy!

  3. The Lancia is unbelievable. So’s the bridge and the hotel. I guess this is what is meant by “press on regardless”.

  4. Jean Fulkerson says:

    Lloyd, my kids are having a great time following your progress and want to see your car up close when you return. This is a wonderful geography and culture lesson for all of us Fulkersons.

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