A night dash to the Uzbekistan border was not easy, but we coped with it. The drivers drove in shifts, and by joint effort we have travelled probably the most unpleasant part of the road with pits, heavy opposing traffic, night drive and a rigid timetable. And again we managed to get to the border with Turkmenistan earlier than we expected. Having said goodbye to our Uzbek guide Sanzhar, we rushed into the welcoming arms of the border guards and customs officers who, unlike their Chinese counterparts, were on time on their workplace and helped us to cross the border quickly. There were no difficulties in Uzbekistan. At the same time Turkmenistan was waiting for us and even remembered our inspection trip. So, all the formalities were carried out with little to no delay. The only caveat: you have to pay a fee to enter the Republic. Despite the already costly visa (it costs $155 dollars for Russians and $55 — for Europeans), you must pay another $10 to enter the country. Fortunately, they had no confusion and required no currency exchange.
Having left the border crossing, we met our Turkmen guide Max and took him aboard to avoid misunderstandings with the local police. And so there were four of us again! Welcome to our cozy little world in Volkswagen Tiguan! We got a bit surprised after we have driven 30 km —the patrol car with the flashing lights started escorting us. It showed a strange sign ‘forward’, outdrove us and run ahead of us at a decent speed. We prudently slowed down not to get a fine — and the police slowed down as well. We have accelerated — and the patrol car also turned up the wick. It went like that until ten minutes later we came to the conclusion that this car ahead of us was escorting us in Turkmenistan! Well, we asked for some moral support at the Germany’s Embassy, but we didn’t expect it would be like that! The traffic controllers blocked traffic at major intersections for us, saluted and smiled. There were no unexpected stops: the only one was to thank the patrol car — and be supported by another patrol car. So we run across all Turkmenistan, almost without noticing it, for 6 hours.
At the next border crossing point we had to wait a little bit, as there was a lunch break when we came. So we filled in all the papers and were waiting for our car to be checked. And still, the timing was good. That is why we had to early inform our Iranian friends, the guys from the Volkswagen representative office in Tehran. They gave us a really warm welcome after crossing the border. Photos, a hot meal at a nearby restaurant and a little bit of Internet traffic to send the yesterday’s photos and a blog post... And, for sure, the escort. Instead of a police car that usually is a well-known and very common Japanese model, they drove a fascinating red Volkswagen Tiguan. It seemed to be second one in the whole country. Especially, thanks to the stickers on our world record Tiguan Shanghai Silkroad Venice.
By the way, Iran gave us a happy mood back: we realized there were only twenty-four-hour border crossings ahead of us, and the road in the Islamic Republic was like a real highway. Almost like in China. So we gave a sigh of relief, looked around and continued to collect experiences. Stay tuned!
Author: Dmitry Makarov, Peter Bakanov