Bukhara > Mary, Turkmenistan 384km

Packing up the bikes on the street outside our hotel, we really have this down to an efficient quick system.  That’s a 4″ deep drain running down the middle of the street.

We left Bukhara at 7:30 and got to the border about 9:00 – it took us about an hour to get out of Uzbekistan, we had to put all our big bags through the x-ray machine (we didn’t have to on the way in), fill in a declaration of foreign currency to check against the declaration when we came in but not against the actual currency we were carrying, and they had a good look at my medical kit also.  Then on to Turkmenistan – well, quite the run around system here, so complicated as to what to do next but the soldiers were very helpful.  Again we were asked if we had a drone as they are also illegal in this country.  It took us 2.5 hours to get through and we ended up with several bits of paper, stamped by this person and that, and back to the first person etc, quite a system!!  Fortunately we managed to get through before 12:30 because the cashiers have a lunch break then until 2:00 when nothing happens.  We have a tourist visa and so the requirement is that we have a guide with us the whole time – he wasn’t allowed in to the border area as normal so we had to find our own way through their system.

After “processing” we met our guide and driver and off we went to Mary – a flat bumpy potholed road with some deep wheel ruts, mostly agriculture and then through the Karakum Desert, empty and hot.   We got up to 45 degrees today – was better to keep the helmet visor down as the wind was so hot.  We are getting used to the heat now – it’s still hot but not draining as it was when we first encountered it.

Stayed at a really lovely hotel called Hotel Mary (my mum’s name is Mary)– with its little details of damask top sheet and guilded furniture, very comfywith lovely fabrics, marble everything and architectural detail.   Our guide, Maxsat, took us to an authentic Turkmen restaurant and filled us in on some rules like we are not allowed to take any photos of policemen, or any government buildings etc  (If you need a good English speaking guide contact Maksat on +993 61 71 21 49 or +993 66 08 47 79.  He has a wealth of knowledge politically culturally and everything else, and he was very attentive to detail for anything we needed.  A good man who spoke positively and gave good insight into each regime that has governed in Turkmenistan.

There is no access to Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, or sites like Booking.com, I can’t connect my VPN, can’t load photos onto my blog, and I wasn’t getting all my mail – that’s just how it is.

Some nice architecture here in Mary

A theatre

The library – white marble trimmed with gold

Gold statues of the First President abound – he was a dictator but Maxsat also told us of a lot of good he did for the country too.


Next day we went in the car to visit the nearby ruins of Merv which was first established under King Darius in 6thC BC then later destroyed by Alexander the Great.  There is so much history here as you can imagine over that sort of time frame.

The placed stones are people “wishing” for their own home

Standing on the top looking down on the walls built in the 6thC BC – they look higher when looking up

Steps down to a well – it has water in it – the water table is deep and salty

The women in Mary dress beautifully and are very colourful, unfortunately I didn’t really capture it.

Women going to the market

Waiting for a bus




  • Diana

    Hi Janet and Charlie, What a joy to read your descriptive blog posts.
    Well done on keeping up when internet access is limited.
    Thanks for reminding us of the joys of being on the road – especially the kindness of people along the way.
    Ride safe.
    Team Kiwi

    August 15, 2017 at 8:54 am
    • Janet & Charlie Russel

      Hi Team Kiwi
      Nice to hear from you and happy to hear you are enjoying our journey. As you would know, what is written only scratches the surface 🙂

      August 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm

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