London to Beijing update 6

130519P photo 1

Good luck in Azerbaijan.  Will we need it?  Rumours of unsmiling gun toting border guards, uncooperative officials and at least a three hour crossing abound but……….Smiley smiley guards, “welcome to our country” “thanks for visiting” “where you from?” were our introductions to Azerbaijan followed by a mere 90 min wait.  It’s as if they had been to a ‘be nice to tourists’ charm school and all passed with honours.  The countryside is also stunning, tree lined roads, lush valleys and mountain vistas. Quaint villages with roads occasionally clogged with cattle and sheep being driven to the next pasture.  Some don’t recognise the road as the preserve of the motorbike, after all they were here before us so will wander into our path.  Need to concentrate.

130519P photo 2The Black Rustbucket

Two days crossing the Caspian Sea with cap’n Jack and his motley crew.  I will never again complain about P&O, British Rail etc. after this schedule: Arrived 5 miles off Turkmenistan 1300hrs, docked 1900hrs, disembarked 2330 hrs, arrived customs 2350 hrs, left customs 0530 hrs, bed 0630 hrs.  In customs we had to visit 12 different windows to have docs stamped and pay all sorts of charges.  Even charged us for two days parking as we bracketed midnight, ‘Death by bureaucracy.

130519P photo 3Star Wars set

Hans Solo and I, accompanied by a cohort of Jedi Knights (“no photos”, “this way only”) visited what is known as Ashgabat City built in white marble and designed, it seems, by George Lucas and Walt Disney.  It could also be the set for the Truman Show as no one was around apart from the same street cleaner walking from stage left. Ironically it was one time I felt compelled to take lots of photos but not allowed.  This photo is to celebrate Turkmanistan being designated at the ‘first neutral state in the world’ their words, not mine, raising an eyebrow or two from Stephan, the Swiss member of our contingent.

Tomorrow it’s camping in the desert and a visit to burning gas craters, Marshmallows on sticks at the ready.


Author: Nigel richardson

2 thoughts on “London to Beijing update 6

  1. Great stuff Nigel.
    I enjoy reading about your journey. It’s good to see the change from Europe to current location.
    I recently watched Kevin and Julia’s DVD on this trip , and saw the crater you are about to visit . I reckon a barricade of crumpets would be more suitable !!

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