Day 23 Sat 2nd Oct – Samarkand to Turkmenabat (Turkmenistan) – 400 km
UPDATE 02/10/10 – 21.21: Two voicemails from Tim this afternoon once they had arrived in Turkmenabat. He woke up still feeling really ill but much better tha yesterday when he was proper unwell and as a result was only able to work at about 25% of his noraml fettling speed. Miserably he had to replace an oil seal on a rear wheel which is a horrible job.
Tim is not alone in being ill – lots of participants are very sick. One guy was too sick to drive today and had to hand over the steering wheel and another woman has passed out – not good at all.
This morning they left a lot later than most people – 6am to their 4.30am. Benson wouldn’t start so needed a jump start but after this slightly iffy departure they had a trouble free 360km run to the border on fairly reasonable roads. It took them 5 hours so they got to the border just after 11am only to find that the oil seal that Tim had repaired yesterday was gone again and there was oil all over the wheel.
That and another problem with loose spokes on the other rear wheel to sort on arrival in Turkmenabat. Tim’s particulalry disappointed about the latter as he had new wheels made before leaving the UK.
They cleared the border quite quickly (within 1 1/2 hours) but had been warned that the actual clearance into Turkmenistan would be slow and painful. Whilst it was certainly slow it wasn’t in the least bit painful as everyone was perfectly charming. Julie’s clearance as a passenger was very quick but Tim’s as the driver took much longer.
As they had closed for lunch there was a really long queue so he had to wait 1 hour and 40 minutes before the prcoess even started. It took 12 rubber stamps from 6 different officials to get him and Benson into the country! Strangely they then had a police escort through a large amount of not much only to be abandoned just as they got to the outskirts of the city. Also had to cross a floating bridge that folded and dipped when an approaching truck actually passed them – gulp!
On arrival Tim replaced the dodgy oil seal again and has cunningly stuck the wheel with the loose spokes in the fountain at the front of the hotel. This is so the spokes will swell up and hopefully re-solidify. They are fairly confident this will work having experimented in the hotel bath in Samarkand. He’ll be up at 5am to check!
08.32 am – Tim and Julie are now stuck in the border queue to enter Turkmenistan – 40 degrees with no shade and all the drinking water nicely heated. It would be rude not to mention the flies and all the spitting ain’t helping either!!!
This trip has been described as once in a lifetime – at the moment Julie’s hoping it is.