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Published: November 10th 2017
Geo: 37.6621, 61.7596
The roads deteriorated fairly rapidly,, the buildings looked decidedly different and nothing was obvious. We had some direction from a cyclist indicating we could get local currency in a Paint shop in the next village. Sure enough we followed his directions, got some money and were on our way. Iran was hot, Turkmenistan is hotter, wow indescribable.
We drive slowly to Mary as there are next to no street signs and our mapping software has no details for Turkmenistan. The Russians have built irrigation channels all thought the border sections of the country which look pretty inviting. We pull up near one and there are some locals swimming. Still reeling from the Islamic thing it is weird to see people relaxing in not full clothing, we strategically sit in the shade and wait for them to leave then head in for a dip ourselves. What we did not realise is this was the local camel watering spot and when a large herd of Camels loitered obviously needing to drink we got out and watched them. We camped in the desert near to the channel. Next morning drove toward Turkeminbat. The police in this country have a fearsome reputation for bureaucratic nastiness. Darren purchased extra cigs to give away for this purpose.
It felt like we were stopped about every 20 kms for passport check and car documents. We have an official route marked on our documents and are not permitted to deviate. Actually, we have no intentions of breaking our transit visa regulations but hey where are the frigging street signs… helps not to get lost.
We get to Mary the following day and there is one Unesco World Heritage site which is on our route so we decide to stop. Darren gets stopped by the police for failing to give way at a roundabout. Well not fair really as we have been in Iran. In Aus we all give way when entering a roundabout to traffic on the roundabout. In Iran once you are in a roundabout you must give way to stuff entering the roundabout. We had discussed which method does it look like they practice in Turkmenistan and it was not clear. Seemed to be a bit of both, given there were not give way signs to help with this evaluation we decided to continue the Iranian road rules which in hindsight was not correct. Anyway given we could not argue our case and the police officer could not get any sense out of us he settled for us handing over what we will call an on the spot fine for failing to give way (about $15 AUD). Given we did not get given a receipt read bribe.
Okay so somewhat more educated now we continue to head north.
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