Day 19

19. May 2000, Turkmenabat (Chardzhou) to Samarkand

An easy section today as the only aim is to get away from the Chardzhou Sanatoriy to reach Samarkand, a city which can be described as the cultural climax of our tour in Central Asia. Leaving Turkmenistan is relatively little hassle: A Turkmen borderman wants to make a pseudo-search of our car but another official who we talked to tells him in Turkmen: "These are friends from Turkey, let them go". Entering Uzbekistan is even less hassle, but we have to receive the sad news that Russian President Putin decided to visit the cultural sites of Uzbekistan today. So the city of Bokhara is blocked off by the police and we are not allowed in. We will therefore not be able to visit Bokhara, but the dissappointment about these news are eased by the outlook of seeing Samarkand today and tomorrow.
Uzbekistan seems slightly more traditional than Turkmenistan as many people wear local head gear, etc. People look different from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan is a mix of Uzbeks and Tajiks and people from all different ethnicities. People seem to be more friendly (as much as one can tell from driving by in a car) and the state seems to be without the peculiarities of Turkmenistan. The landscape seems to be dry but still fertile with many trees (no deserts).

TC 64: Chardzhou OUT
PC: Samarkand Highway
TC 65: Samarkand IN
41 402.05 km

Overall 37 minutes penalty

The official results can be looked up on this website

The Amur Darya, an important river for the region

Local support: Uzbeks in school uniform

Common forms of transport: donkey and bike. Although the most common form of transport is Daewoo - there is a factory UZDAEWOO in Uzbekistan, producing those little minivans and mid-sized saloon cars.

We are welcomed by girls dressed in local costume


Our spring on the accelerator breaks again and within ten seconds we are surrounded by locals. Again, we can communicate in Turkish but it gets more difficult it seems. One problem so far has been that most start talking Russian when they see foreigners - which we do not understand at all. When they find out that we speak Turkish they are amazed and laugh. The spring is easily repaired and the problem caused by the breakage (engine continues accelerating even when the foot is taken off) is minimal but if it continues breaking we will replace it with a rubber band or similar.

In Uzbekistan we are guided by the police again

The land is semi-dry but fertile