Bureaucracy and desert sand
16.04.2008 - 18.04.2008
View Route Olympia - China on Lent's travel map.
The ferry transfer over the Caspian Sea from Baku tu Turkmenbashy deserves a chapter of its own right if one is used to the huge luxury vessels between Finland, Sweden and Estonia. Anyway, everybody survived the appalling hygienic conditions on the boat and we arrived in the port in the evening of Tuesday April 16. Then the real torture started: Immigration issued visas all throughout the night, one by one, and after an almost sleepless night in the ferry terminal we could start our journey the next morning. Allegedly we were the first tourists to enter Turkmenistan through this port this year. From my previous reading about the Silk Road countries, Turkmenistan ranked pretty low on the list already....
The town of Turkmenbashy (Father of the Turkmens, honorary title of the former president) used to be called Krasnovodsk by the Russians who conquered the area of present-day Turkmenistan between 1860 and 1891 and is the starting point of the Trans-Caspian railway line. If the Caspian Sea has any effect on the climate of the area, then certainly on the wind and particularly its direction. With a mostly overcast sky protecting from sunburn during the first days in the desert we were facing a really stiff headwind from the East making cycling quite challenging even though we had now the long desired flat terrain. The interesting thing in the desert that you get hardly any visual sensation of the wind. Only muscles will tell you and so will the sand and dust in the gears...
Camels a re very shy and peaceful creatures