Day 17: Crawling towards Kalaikhum

We are currently at a very basic homestay in a small village called Kalaikhum, on the way to Khorog, Tajikistan. Our aspiration had been to get to Khorog for the night, but according to the Lonely Planet, it takes between 14 – 20 hours to reach from Dushanbe. What a rude awakening it is to…

Day 16: The dodgy drive to Dushanbe

It had been quite a day! We finally managed to withdraw USD 500 from a National Bank of Uzbekistan branch near the Registan that does cash advance against Visa cards. If you’re ever planning to travel through Central Asia but not carry thousands of dollars/euros in cash, take note of this location. While we were in the vicinity,…

Day 15: Scrambling through Samarkand

Our biggest worry in Uzbekistan had been fuel. After fuel, it was our cash-flow. Both were in short supply and we spent much of the day chasing these with minimal success. We had a lazy breakfast at our B&B in Bukhara and started for Samarkand at about 11am that morning. We found a fueling station based…

Day 14: The breathtakingly beautiful Bukhara

We headed out from our hostel about 9am and spent the entire next hour looking for petrol. For some bizarre reason, all the gas stations in Uzbekistan are deserted and petrol/diesel can be found nowhere.

Day 13: Khiva chronicles

The road north up to the Uzbek border was full of potholes. Moritz was at the wheel for the first 2.5 hours and let’s just say he likes to drive fast. I tried to catch up on some sleep, but kept waking up from bouncing up and down thanks to the broken, and in some…

Day 12: Dazzled by Darvaza

Our morning began with a breakfast buffet with the rest of the group also staying at Hotel Ak Altyn. The food was simple but fresh. After a lazy breakfast, we packed up the car and started for Darvaza, also known as Door to Hell. Before we could start driving towards Darvaza though, we needed to change…

Day 11: An outing in Ashgabat

I woke up in our campsite by the side of the road, feeling tired and restless. I had not slept a wink. Because we sleep in the car which serves as a makeshift camper van, we had left the sunroof open for some air. As a result, I was covered in several layers of sand…

Day 10: Immigration at Turkmenbashi

If you’ve ever complained about long queues at immigration and border controls, you might as well know that the seaport immigration into Turkmenistan beats them all. If you plan to wash up on the shores of this mysterious country, come prepared with a lot of patience!

Day 9: Crossing the Caspian Sea

The most uncertain part of our trip was about to begin. Crossing the Caspian Sea can be notoriously unreliable and full of confusion. The confusion was compounded by the fact that our visas were not in order, as we found out two days ago. We had already contacted Ismayil, the fixer well known for helping…

Day 8: Barreling towards Baku, Azerbaijan

It’s safe to say that Azerbaijan and I have gotten off on the wrong foot. After getting ‘fined’ 100 USD the night before for ‘speeding’, we had checked into a hotel room that stank of stale cigarette smoke and crashed into bed.

Day 7: Getting to Ganja, Azerbaijan

We woke up from a deep sleep and discovered life around us at the beach camp on the Georgian coast of the Black Sea. There were workers putting up a new fence, the family keeping the grounds eating breakfast and cows frolicking on the beach. I’d say they were grazing on the beach, but there wasn’t…

Day 6: Baffled in Batumi

It was one of those mornings that I didn’t want to get up, but the temperature in the car had started to climb. I had no choice but to throw off my sleeping bag and sit up. The sun was blazing through the sunroof which we had left open, and I decided to poke my…