a road of bottles, notes, and graves

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The hotel room in Turkmenabat was alright:

hotel room in Turkmenabat

If you like a hard bed.

I asked my guide if I could strap a camera to my chest and film in the city, and after some deliberation we decided that maybe the small action cam on the side of the Caboose would be a better idea.

So here’s today’s Let’s Walk video:

The road out of Turkmenabat was broad and straight:

road out of Turkmenabat

Sometimes I would see an old bus:

bus

Or a factory in the distance:

factory in the distance

I didn’t see many women who wore headscarves, though some did:

ladies with child near Turkmenabat

It was still pretty hot during the day, so I didn’t envy them.

Sometimes I would see a train:

train in Turkmenistan

And one time there was a shop that sold inflatable balls that looked like watermelons, just like the one I had been playing with on the shores of Issyk-kul just a few weeks ago:

shop outside of Turkmenabat

There were pink flowers:

pink flowers

And there was another river (or a canal):

river

One time this gentleman and his son stopped me to provide me with bread, water, and cola:

Yagmur with son

And then, at around noon, I passed it, the gate of Turkmenabat:

gate to Turkmenabat

We set up an improvised lunch camp in the shade of a container in the desert. This is what I was looking at for the next three hours (though I slept through part of it):

lunch camp

And then the road was ours:

desert road in Turkmenistan

There were attempts to stop the desert from encroaching on the road, something I had seen in the Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang a few years earlier:

attempts to stop desertification

And – for some strange, unexplained reason – there were a lot of plastic bottles stuck into the bushes upside down:

upside down bottle

We figured that they were probably there to mark a certain spot. But why were there so many?

When I say “we”, I am usually talking about the Caboose and myself, but during this part of the trip, it often means us and my guide and my driver. They were always there, waiting for me in their car:

my guide and my driver in their car

Sometimes, just like on the roads that ran through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, there were graves (or memorials) along the way:

roadside grave

I figured they were for traffic victims.

At other times there were written notes in the bushes:

note in a tree

I did not know what they meant, and I did not want to remove them to show them to my guide.

The road had been pretty good around Turkmenabat, but it gradually got worse as we were leaving the city:

bad road

At this point I popped in my earphones and blasted some old school Incubus. Why had they gone the way of the Red Hot Chili Peppers? It was a tragedy.

I saw a lot of trucks, mostly from Turkmenistan of course, but there were also Iranian trucks and trucks from Turkey. Not once did I see a vehicle from any of the other Central Asian countries.

Whoever lost his Iranian license plate probably dived straight into a bureaucratic hell at the border:

lost iranian license plate

We were going to camp in the desert, so my guide and my driver set out about an hour before sunset and looked for a spot to set up camp. They built a fire and started cooking up a nice stew of vegetables we had bought at the bazaar in Turkmenabat:

dinner in the desert

It was a very good stew:

dinner

I set up my tent, then I sat down and looked up, and I saw the Milky Way in all its glory:

milky way

I had a hard time appreciating it, though, because I was tired as hell, and my legs hurt. Also, I had caught some pretty bad blisters. Sadly, not all of them were treatable. These were the ones that were:

blisters

Needle, iodine, tissue:

blister treatment

The next two weeks were going to be hard as hell.



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