What a shit country.
We finally got our 5 day transit visa and after 5 hours at the border we were free to go. I won’t go into the details about that day as I think dean is in the process of writing that blog post but it was epic.
We have managed to blast through the country in two days and today we are entering Iran.
The way Turkmen seem to view tourists is walking USD ATMS. Suck as many USD as you can from them on their way through the country and kick them out. There is really no reason to come here. It’s a desert with a few cities in between and nothing endearing about any of them.
In Ashgabat, the capital, they only accept USD from tourists (bad luck if you’ve changed all your money into the local currency, Mannat) and the prices of the hotels are exorbitant. What a local will pay $12 for a tourist has to pay $60. Now usually if we have to pay more than usual for a room there is a part of me that is happy because it means we will get a night of comparative luxury (clean sheets and air con) but these rooms are back to the standard of Indonesia but for 6 times the cost. These details make the end of a long hard day even harder.
So there we were with $70 worth of manat that nobody would take and nowhere that gave USD as the country isn’t allowed to sell foreign currency. After 3 hours riding around the city in circles we finally succumbed and handed over $50 for a really really shit room. I then found out that the headband that I’ve worn every day since I left home had been left in the previous hotel. This doesn’t sound like much but when you travel with bare essentials, you really need everything. Realising that I no longer had this was the last straw. Dean tried his best to calm me down and then suggested that I wear a pair of his boxers on my head instead. At first I ignored him but then I realised I had no choice … And so I am… This is where I’m at. I am wearing deans pants on my head and probably will do every day until I find something better… I never thought my life would come to this! Dean however is pretty chuffed.
Despite the corrupt government and poorly managed country, the people here are really lovely and warm. We’ve had one restaurant refuse to take our money, a guy gave us a bottle of juice, somebody gave Dean a loaf of bread at the petrol bowser and a lady in a shop has just given us two bags of shopping for free… Chocolates, biscuits, salami, bread and milk… Wow…. We had to give back the milk 😉
Now at the Iran border and I can hear the call to prayer. Everything fun is illegal in Iran and its time for me to cover up head to toe despite 45 degree heat. It’s Ramadan at the moment too so we are not sure how easy it’s going to be to get food during the day. Heat and hunger make Sally a little bit more feisty than normal… Let’s hope Iran is worth it!