Several texts and one brief call confirm they have successfully crossed the border and have got to Bokhara in Uzbekistan! They are exhausted but relieved and will try and blog again as soon as they have had some rest and find some wi-fi.
Conditions on the Caspian sea boat were very primitive and to call on the sat phone they had hang precariously outside the boats metal structure to dangle the arial into free air- so a minimum of calls. They berthed in Turkmanbashi at 9 pm tuesday evening and then took till 4 a.m. to disembark and clear the port. After 4 hours sleep they drove 590 km the first day to get to Ashgabat. The following day a curfew at noon was being imposed in the city so they drove on getting to Turkmanbat last night and then successfully crossing the frontier today just ahead of the deadline. They are very pleased to have left; the atmosphere in Turkmenistan was undoubtedly tense.They have many photos and tales to tell and will do so as soon as they can.
After a difficult berth and a tough disembarking from the ferry our travellers finally got through border control and are racing through Turkmenistan before their visas run out. There is very limited phone coverage and they are not going to be hanging out in internet cafes so sparse information but they are all fine.
Turkmenistan is nearly as big as Spain, 80% is covered in desert and the centre has a big depression so we wish them safe speed . They will be passing through the towns of Ashgabat and then on to Mary but we know the road there is under construction and takes a minimum of 9 hours.
Relief map of Turkmenistan
The previousTurmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov ruled from the 80s until his sudden death in 2006. His eccentric personality cult has lessened a little and his golden statue no longer rotates to always face the sun. He banned ballet, opera and beards so hopefully are gang have managed to shave and are keeping their batteries and sous-sus to a minimum.
And it appears our intrepid voyagers are seeing rather more of it than they intended.
Simon has called Susan (by satellite phone due to lack of on-board WiFi, or even Turkmenistani mobile phone signal) to explain that they are all well – but are currently waiting for a berth at the port at Turkmenbashi so that they can disembark. They will then subsequently need to rush out of Turkmenistan before their visas expire, possibly limiting the opportunities to update this blog.
Which is pretty much as Bob commented on the earlier post:
“The ship safely arrived Turkmenbashi but apparently was unable to berth (this is common apparently as space is limited). The Bikers are hoping to get off today (26th), making sure that they dont overstay in Turkmenistan will be their next problem as i believe they only have a 5 day visa.
Good luck to them”
We’ll update this when we hear more – if Simon or Dave are not able to themselves. And hopefully let you know they are back on dry land with bikes and the van all accounted for.