Day 29: From the desert to Turkmenabat
After a peaceful night in the desert, there remained around 85 km to reach the border city of Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan’s second largest city. Just as yesterday, we started early in the day to avoid the strongest winds in the afternoon.
Floating through the desert
Compared to yesterday, the wind was much more in our favor. For almost the whole ride we had weak to medium tail wind, making us progress faster than the day before. After a bit more than 4 hours of riding we reached the border city of Turkmenabat where we had lunch.
One thing I have to add here: I wrote two days ago that the roads in Turkmenistan were in excellent conditions. I have to relativize this statement as the road through the desert actually was in a miserable condition. It is clearly visible that Turkmenistan focuses its effort in building shiny cities instead of maintaining a nation-wide good infrastructure. The same also applies for the railway network. They have a nation-wide railway network, which is good for a country where the major cities are several hundred meters apart. However, the train speeds are so low that most people rather take the car to arrive in half of the time. Being a completely flat country, investing in a high-speed railway network would be useful here.
Just like Mary, Turkmenabat made a very clean and ordered impression. Especially the area around the official buildings is beautiful with wide boulevards, lots of green and expensive buildings. Because we made such good progress in the morning, we allowed ourselves an afternoon of relaxing in a generously laid-out city park. Only towards the evening we crossed the bridge over the Amudarja, a very wide river that originates in the Pamirs and that we will meet again once in Tajikistan. It is also this same river which enables the desert-like neighbor Uzbekistan the production of cotton and because of that cuts off the water that was supposed to go in the Aral Lake which is drying out more and more.
We found again a friendly family who accommodates us for the night. Unfortunately I got myself some stomach problems again, and this after the previous problems finally disappeared. This time I have no clue what it could have been, but I guess it will take a few days again to fully recover.
Max elevation: 207 m
Min elevation: 168 m
Total climbing: 596 m
Total descent: -613 m
Total Time: 11:01:10