Between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan

Our second ‘tough’ border crossing today, and its going to be a long and hard day… We’re now sitting in no-man’s land between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, with no shade or trees or facilities of any sort. There are no gates to bar us, but we’ve been told that the land between these two nations are peppered with unexploded ordnance – especially of the limb-blowing, land-mine kind.

– Kazakhstan customs complex.

As it stands, we’ve been sitting here for 6 hours, and to even get here, it was no mean feat. Unpaved roads, covered with a fine silky desert sand for over 120 kilometers, and the weather has been merciless. Intensely dry heat trying to make shoe leather out of living flesh, and we’re having to sit it out, with no running engines… We cannot walk away from the convoy due to security reasons (as in we’d be shot) and peeing involves hiding behind a car-tire, juggling an umbrella, pants and wet wipes and all this must be done out sight of the border guards *sigh*

– R&R, border-post style…

On the other side of the fence, more bad roads, for at least another 200 kilometers or so before we get to our rest stop for the day. It’s going to be a long day indeed…

I find it rather amusing that these two nations are so unwelcoming to people. They don’t seem to have much to offer especially to a casual traveler. If you’re into black gold, especially the liquid kind, then these region may have a pull on you, but definitely not me…

– Border-crossing complex between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

But I suppose, whatever patch of relatively green Earth one calls home, there is nothing in this world to compare it with. No better place will be found, and our affinity for going ‘home’ will beckon us back to our homeland, regardless if we’re living in a better place or call a barren and desolate place like this.

– Turkmen landscape.

It’s no wonder why they now defend this land so stoically. Historically, this region has seen countless marauding hordes and conquering forces looking to subjugate this piece of real estate. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that we’re smack dab in the center of the ancient Northern Silk Route. Promises of untold riches and exotic lands must have been disappointing, I imagine, to Alexander the Great and his troops, who turned south to India somewhere about here, after marching almost continuously for almost a decade…

More updates later, once we’ve made it into Turkmenistan – Jasmine.

UPDATE
It’s now 4.30am, and we’ve finally pulled our weary selves into the Turkmenbasy hotel for the night. We only made it across the border at slightly after 2200 hrs, and I was the second person to cross, right after Dr. Dolly. We then waited on the other side, with everyone else and the cars, still on the Kazakhstan side. After about 45 minutes, the whole convoy made it over.

More desert driving, now at night, with a blanketing mist that blurs everything you see making driving hell. It took us over 5 hours of back-breaking driving, and with speeds never going above 70km/h to get here. Sleep beckons, and I will tell you more tomorrow, when my brains aren’t so addled… 😛

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