As we drove into Romania we had a complete change of plans. Our original plan was to drive from South West to North West but Jerome had just read about some crazy salt mine that was open to the public in a different direction. We would also then be able to travel through Transylvania. Our time was limited so we decided to wing it. Continue reading
Istanbul was almost like a milestone for us as we had been looking forward to it for so long. It was also to be our gateway back into Europe after spending so many months traipsing across Central Asia.
We had learned that there are 6.5 million cars registered in Istanbul alone. This became apparent on our approach with a maze of freeway systems with very confusing spaghetti like on/off ramps. One wrong turn and you could end up anywhere. Naturally we messed one up before even hitting the outskirts which put us on a freeway in the opposite direction without a single exit for 47km. Buy the time we had finished our 100km detour we were finally headed in the right direction. Continue reading
After picking up the car at the docks we were given 3 days to exit Azerbaijan if we were to pass as a temporary import. Talk about temporary, we were never told this when we applied for our 30 day visa but anyway.
Baku seemed like an interesting city so we decided to spend a day looking around. We knew nothing about it and were caught by surprise by the size and abundance of money here. The architecture is really interesting in Baku, some very modern buildings being built, people call it the Dubai of Central Asia. We decided to head outa town first to the burning mountain. Just on the outskirts of town is a place of some holy significance that has been noted in history going back to the 5th century. Basically natural gas leaks from the mountain side it ignited centuries ago and has been burning ever since. It was almost impossible for me to get up the mountain but we saw it from a distance and were satisfied.
We never planned on spending long in Tashkent, particularly because there’s not a lot to see here compared to other places in Uzbekistan. However things don’t always go as planned, especially on a trip like this. We ended up spending more time in Tashkent than we have in any other single place. Luckily we were well looked after.
Some time was put aside for my kazak visa, we read it would take about 4 days. It was a Friday when we arrived, due to the border guards taking their sweet arse time we got into Tashkent late in the arvo. Thus were unable to apply for the visa until Monday. We managed to get a hotel for the two crews at the grand orzu but it was $75 a night. Expensive. We were happy to call it a night as it was late and we had been searching all over town, everything was full due numerous exhibitions.
That night I was hit by a major case of tap arse. It’s bad enough to get the shits when traveling but being in a wheelchair creates even more of a nightmare.
Entering Tajikistan was a strange experience. First off was the border post leaving Kyrgyzstan followed by about 30 km of no mans land and a pass of 4320m before the Tajikistan border post. We had been told that the road here was notoriously bad because neither of the countries want to be responsible for the maintenance, on top of that we were headed for the highest pass yet on our trip. This sounded like it was going to be interesting. The slope was pretty gradual and road not so bad up until the last climb where The road switched back on its self about four times and there was evidence of recent land slides. Some of us were beginning to notice the effects altitude has on the performance of our rides not to mention breathing. Just to make things more eventful, As we reached the top of the pass it began to snow. A few kilometers on and we were at the Tajik border post.