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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan - 4 September, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Khiva (Hotel Arqonchi) N4122.649' E06021.470' 110 meters .
Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border (Shavat) . . . .
Dashoguz . . . .
Finish Konye-Urgench (Korean farm hostel) N4220.854' E05910.522' 74 meters

180 km

Total Leg 2:

1,547 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

4,565 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot (40+C).  Warm/cool at night.

 

 

Today we have the opportunity to sleep in, but we are unable to do so.  The beds are just too uncomfortable and the lights and noises from outside our door and window (that opens out onto the corridor) keep us awake.  We can have a slow start today as we will be crossing the border into Turkmenistan and have heard that there will be a convoy of 15 cars there ahead of us - so need to hurry up, get there and wait.

 

So, after a slow start and breakfast in the hotel, we load up the truck and head off just after 9 AM.  It is only one and a half hours to the border post at Shavat.  Unfortunately we discover that the convoy is still there trying to get through the border - which can be a real pain here with lots of paperwork and other hassles.  The 15 4x4's are from Europe.  The cars were shipped to India and they are on a whirlwind drive from India to Munich.  They are taking less time than we are and driving much further.  They must not see too much.

 

They finally clear through the border post and it is our turn to go through the motions.  Two hours after arriving at the border, we are through and head over to the Turkmenistan side.  We have to wait a bit for the 4x4 convoy to get through, but overall, it takes us just over an hour until we are in Turkmenistan.  We drive a short distance and then within a stone's throw of the border, stop and have lunch.

 

We have a quick lunch and then drive the twenty minutes to Dashoguz, where we will do some cook group shopping and register with the police (old procedures left-over from Soviet times).  We go off and do our shopping.  Three cook groups need to do their shopping in this market as we will be heading into the Karakum desert for two nights and three days.

 

It is actually quite a good market and we can find all we need to prepare our meals.  It is dirt cheap.  For example, wonderful, ripe red tomatoes go for US cents 5 per kilo and peppers (paprika) are US cents 1 each.  We get some excellent melons, sausages, meat and other fruit and vegetables.  The people in the markets are very friendly and welcoming.  They even give us some food.

 

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Once we finish shopping we head back to the truck to load all the purchases into the gray boxes and lockers.  Then we need to wait for the guide to come back from the police station.  And we wait and wait.  In the end, we hang out on the street and are surrounded by locals in no time.  The kids are also surrounding the truck and climbing on nearby walls to get a glimpse inside.  Out on the street we meet a few young ladies who come and ask if we speak German.  It turns out that they are studying German and want to practice.  One of them is actually quite good at the language.

 

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After almost three hours in this town sitting parked up next to the local market, our guide returned with our passports and we were ready to head off.  We still had two hours of driving to get to Konye-Urgench, where we spend the night at a farm run by a bunch of Koreans.  We never found out whether they came from North or South Korea, but our guess would be North (during the Soviet days).

 

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It is a basic, but nice place.  We stayed in one huge building with tall ceilings and large, simple rooms.  Toilet facilities are an outhouse and outdoor shower where the water tank needs to be filled by hand.  We arrive after dark and quickly unload the truck and settle into our rooms.  Dinner is served shortly thereafter in the main function room in the center of the building.

 

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We sit on the floor with the dishes spread on mats in front of us.  The usual starters of nuts, dried fruits, etc, followed by a number of warm dishes consisting of soup and plov.  It is simple fare, but tasty and filling.  It has been a long day hanging out at borders and markets, so once dinner is finished, we head off to bed.  We have a fairly good nights sleep.  Others complain of being attacked by mosquitoes.  We had kept our windows and door closed until we went to bed and turned off the lights - maybe that is why we were spared.

 

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