Day 25 Ashgabad to Gorgan

Off to the Iranian border and we discovered that Ashgabad did indeed have lovely white marble (which is not indigenes to the area and have to be imported from Italy – no doubt at great expense) buildings with gold domes and trim – if fact there were whole rows of them.

No, the first building is not leaning – just poor photography from a moving car.

 

And the manicured gardens too existed …


The road from Ashgabad to the border was one of the best roads we’ve driven and the views were incredible. From desert to mountains in a few kilometers – what a drive! Just breathtaking!

 

Per usual, the Classic cars were last to leave for the border. Many have given up rallying (departing on an established time and running the time trials) and are just touring the route. This allows them to leave whenever they want and to arrive early at the border. The classics then scramble to get there to get at the end of a long line. That’s a Sunbeam Alpine in front, a Porsche 356 in the middle and an Aston Martin DB4 in back – followed by a 1949 Cadillac – go figure.


We had a passage control just before the border to make sure everyone got out of Turkmenistan. The timing for the day has been canceled as our prior experiences indicated this would be a long process.


We were not disappointed – we took 6 ½ hours for us to clear both borders. The longer time occurred coming into Iran which is normal. This was exacerbated by the fact that we had to wait over their lunch break. When we finally got to present our passports to the Iranian authorities, one of the agents told us to follow him, down a long dark hallway (he had to turn lights on as we went) and finally around a corner to a desk and two chairs. Very interesting … Turns out they needed to take our fingerprints as the US citizens did not have to do that to obtain a visa but the UK folks had that done to get their visas. The customs agent was very nice and I think got a real kick out of the situation. These borders are very serious things – I thought I might ask if I could go up in their tower to get a few photos but no one thought it would be wise to ask.


Now down the Iranian side of the pass. The roads were not quite as good but better than most of what we have traveled but the scenery was just as spectacular as the road up from Ashgabad. Oh yes, we did have trucks to contend with also.

 

Once out of the mountains, the countryside was quite beautiful.


Not surprisingly, the sun was getting ready to set – good thing we had to set our watches back 1 ½ hours when entering Iran (GMT + 3 ½ hours).


Photos at night from a moving car are not ideal – they are not even very good. The streets of these small towns are just lined with little shops of all kinds all brightly lit with people everywhere.


And then came the motorcycles and motor scooters – in droves, weaving in and out – hard to believe they weren’t killed. Cars too would come within inches with the driver having his cell phone or camera out trying to take pictures – very dangerous as they all drive as though they were possessed or have a death wish. Then the worst were the crowds on foot at traffic lights that want to reach into the car – I’m sure they were having great fun but after being on the road as long as we had it wasn’t as amusing to us. Oh, I almost forgot, the cars and cycles would blast their horns just as they got to our door – the first hundred were ok but after that …


We finally made it to our assigned hotel by 10 pm only to learn that we had no room. The story was that the President of Iran had come to Gorgan and taken all the rooms – funny, I didn’t see any evidence of what should have been a large security detail. Fortunately, wew were shunted off to another hotel about a ten minute drive with only vague directions which had suites available for 6 people. We knew our suitemates and had a good time before passing out from exhaustion. This is really wearing on everyone and we understand all timing has been canceled for tomorrow – just another 625 kilometers to drive over unfamiliar road where you can’t read the signs – guess that’s why they refer to this as an “Endurance Rally” – still haven’t figured our if they were speaking of the cars or competitors – probably both.

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One Response to Day 25 Ashgabad to Gorgan

  1. Terry says:

    Cheer up, things are going to get better. Hows Lloyd felling?

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