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Recieved by SMS at 23rd August 2012 at 06:59
From Tashkent we crossed...
Posted by Jolyon at 18th August 2012 at 08:29
From Tashkent we crossed the border in to kyrgyzstan via Osh. The border crossing was surprisingly mundane and we arrived in to Osh in time for supper and a $3 matress on the floor in an apartment block, in spite of Jolyon's attempt at going down a one way street in front of the inspector general's angry gaze. Up early the next morning; a little too early as we arrived at the famous osh market before most of the stalls had been set up. Slightly annoying but it still gave Ed an opportunity to search for that perfect gift for a certain somebody waiting for him back in the shire.
Posted by Jolyon at 8th August 2012 at 08:30
Tblisi, Baku, Aqtau (via caspian sea), Beyneu, Nukus, Bukhara
Due to serious hooning the night before we had a delayed start to the next part of our journey towards Baku, Azerbaijan. Baku was a city that we expected alot from after it's hosting of the eurovison song contests was widely praised. The 600km trip to Baku we roughly thought would take about 10 hours, but unfortunately due to some unforeseen circumstances we were delayed by 8 hours. The first of these was a speeding incident which Ed thought he had manged to avoid due to our number plate not being on the azerbaijan vehicle system and straight after the flash proclaimed to the car with much satisfaction, "Im obviously not going to have to pay that". This was not to be as 10 minutes later, and much to Jolyon and Rowley's amusement, we were pulled over and a police officer casually strolled up to the car asking for the driver's details. Ed and his driving licence were marched to the patrol tower where he was very nicely asked to pay a fine of €400 which he kindly declined. We managed to get the fine down to €50 and a pack of cigarettes. 20km down the track we were pulled over again - this time we were stopped for attempting a parallel parking manoeuvre and asked for another payoff. Again Ed at the wheel. Fortunately, a local lady who spoke very good English managed to explain to us that they only stopped us to get a bit of extra cash as we were foreigners. We paid €10 in exchange for our temporarily confiscated car passport - a hectic few hours.
On we went hoping to reach Baku for supper. Needless to say a recurring theme was starting to appear as we didn't make as soon as we'd have liked - It took us until 6 am to finally arrive in Baku after yet another through the night drive on something that resembled more of a potholed dirt track than the main road to the countries Capital.
After booking ourselves into a hotel for 6 hours we made to the port where we immediately found out there was a ferry to Aqtau leaving that day to our great pleasure-but not for others as some strong words were aimed jokily in our direction by another Mongol Rally car who had been waiting at the port for a week for the ferry to Turkmenbash, Turkmenistan, and it still had not arrived.
After an afternoons wait in the port and incessant replies to our questions on when this boat would be leaving we were told 'one hour, one hour' (we guessed this was the only time in English he knew) we eventually paid, directly to the Captain which seemed a bit circumspect, and got on at 7pm. Even with the good news of getting on the ferry this was soon to disappear. We had been previously been told that there was no food on the ferry and had tried to stock up as best we could, however, due to a fear of missing the ferry if we left the port to get more, we did not buy sufficient amounts but this we had prepared ourselves for. As we waited in the mess hall in the bowels of the ship all evening and most disappeared away we were left without a cabin in something that would fit the imagination of an Azerbaijani cargo ferry to Kazakhstan-mosquito infested, smokey, dingy with a few fat truckers left arguing with each other. This was the picture for the next few hours as we were unable to communicate with the crew officer on where we were supposed to be sleeping. We soon began preparing for a night and on top deck and along with the prospect of having limited provision Team Blackout morale was at a bit of a low. After finishing a bottle of Georgia's finest wine that we had left over we decided to have a look around the boat only to discover a spare cabin a few levels down. It was only later we discovered that this is what we supposed to do all along, how we were supposed to know this we don't know. The next morning the crew officer woke us up offering us a cooked supper that evening, to which we duly accepted. Things suddenly began to be looking up.
It took 3 days to get to Aqtau and as we pulled into port early Saturday we were looking forward to getting on the road as quickly as we could-but once again this was not to be. We were woken at 6am to leave the ship. This was delayed until 1pm due to a truck bursting it's petrol tank on level above our car thus trapping our car in. Then we moved to immigration thinking this would be over shortly and we still hopped to be able to get to Byneu for the night. It took us until 7 to leave immigration with endless searches, checks, the weight taken of our car, a 3 hour wait for the customs officer to return from 'a trip into town' and even one policeman trying to get Rowley to give over his Iphone to let us in to Kazakhstan which we politely declined.
By this time it was too late to try to get to Byneu so we headed into town in search of lodgings for the night. Luckily an American couple pointed us in the direction of a beachside hotel in which we stayed in a penthouse suite for £45 between us. Unfortunately our memory of Aqtau was tarnished by our choice of restaurant that night as apparently they provide special prices for tourists that turned out to be more expensive that the penthuise across the street.
7am next morning we were on the road........in the wrong direction - for 4hours we were driving off the main road and on random dirt tracks that we believed to be legitimate means of transit, they were not. Disheartened to say the least we did eventually manage to get back on track but were way behind. We smashed through the good roads while we could but unfortunately hit a few bouts of disaster from the hours of 7pm - 8pm the next day. The account is as follows: (from Aqtau to Uzbek border)
7pm - puncture our first tyre on day one of the awful Kazakh roads. Roof rack falling off.
9pm - supper at roadside hotel and restaurant.
10.15pm - locked out of car fetching wallet.
11pm - local wheeler dealer breaks in to our car for us (no damage, job well done)
11.30 - bed but not much sleep.
6.30am - on the road again.
3pm - stop for lunch.
5.30pm - rear chassis guard ripped off by deep sand - 2 hour excavation.
Finally a at around 8pm we reached the Uzbek boarder: more waiting. 8 hour border crossing sharing wine and biccies with a brace of Belgian lads (on the rally) who shared in our plight.
At around 4am after an extended border crossing we pushed on through the night for an hour or 2 until none of us could stay awake and spent a night in the car on the side of the road until 7 where we departed again for Nukus. After stocking up on food, at a restaurant that strictly served dumplings, and fuel we headed straight onto Bukhara.
Sorry for delay and bad grammar, written on bumpy roads and have only just fou d some interenet in Bukhara.. This evening we make to Tashkent.
Recieved by SMS at 2nd August 2012 at 10:58
Entry 5 (30/7/12 - 1/8/12)...
Posted by Ed at 1st August 2012 at 08:04
Entry 5 (30/7/12 - 1/8/12) - I know this is one of the most followed blogs online througout the course of 2012 so we are extremely apologetic to all ouor dedicated followers for the delay in postings. Eastern European internet speeds are not quite up to scratch and updates from mobile devices do not work.
We are now in Tbilisi, Georgia after a 32 hour non-stop trip from Turkey. The further east we seem to go the more chaotic the driving gets. Over-taking on the hard shoulder and blind corners is very much the norm. We've had some very close encounters.
Having arrived in the Georgian capital late on Tuesday night we decided to treat ourselves to an surprisingly good meal, which was a welcome change to the ham and cheese sandiches we usually find ourselves eating.
We are now about to head off to Baku, Azerbaijan where we hope our wait for the ferry to Aqtau, Kazakhstan will not be too long.
Posted by Ed at 1st August 2012 at 07:49
Entry 4. Budapest - Romania - Bulgaria - Thassos (Greece) - Istanbul
Entry 4. Budapest - Romania - Bulgaria - Thassos (Greece) - Istanbul
Tstanbul, Turkey, Shaving and bathing...
Recieved by SMS at 29th July 2012 at 11:49
Thassos old town, Thassos, Greece...
Recieved by SMS at 25th July 2012 at 12:46
Hostel Goodmo, Budapest, Hungary ...
Recieved by SMS at 23rd July 2012 at 11:33
Entry 3: Berlin, Prague,...
Posted by Rowley at 23rd July 2012 at 10:59
Entry 3: Berlin, Prague, Auschwitz, Rabca , Budapest Wednesday 18th-Monday 23rd