Ciao for now!……

(James) Just a quick update as we’ve had a bit of a traumatic morning and this may be our last entry for a while as we’re about to head for Turkmenistan and it’s a bit of a technological black hole.

After the disappointment of not making it in time to the Turkmen Embassy in Baku on Friday it was with some trepidation that we went there at 9am this morning. Naturally, we were the only ones there (the country only gets/allows about 250 tourists each year!) so got seen straight away and were quickly told that our visas were not here! Major heart in the mouth time as we’d only left Tbilisi (Georgia) on the understanding that our visas were waiting for us! This was a major problem as we’d be stuck here with our bikes sitting in the customs compound and our Azerbaijan visa only has 3 days left on it ($400 fine each for overstaying plus cost of new visa all of which we’d have had to try and arrange from the no mans land of customs) and even our Uzbek visa (you can’t get a Turkmen visa without a valid on-going country visa!) is only 10 days from expiring!

Our pleas fell on deaf ears and we were told to call Istanbul when it opened at 9am (Istanbul is 2 hours behind!) So, cue 2 hours of helpless panic as we paced around waiting for Istanbul to open. When it finally did and answered the phone we were told  (in English) that nobody there spoke English and the phone was slammed down on us – Not good! Given that the Baku embassy closed at midday we now had less than an hour to resolve the problem and niether embassy seemed prepared to speak to the other! In desparation we asked the girl at the reception desk at our hotel to call Istanbul as she spoke both Turkish and Russian and having relayed our problem was informed that our visa HAD been delivered to Baku! As you can imagine we were preparing ourselves for being the pawns in a game of pass the buck. We went back to the embassy and after 15 minutes of searching the consul ’found’ our fax!! To say we were relieved is an understatement! Suddenly the previously stern consul was all smiles and even insisted on taking us to a special room (where they clearly hold diplomatic functions) where we were subjected to a hilarious promotional DVD (all in Turkmen) of some sort of 21st century development resort that has clearly been a vanity project for the dictator/president. It was hard to keep ourselves from bursting out laughing such was the ridiculousness of the DVD which featured Turkmen dancers, multi-million dollar yachts, and multiple shots of the President (and nervous looking officials/yesmen) performing ceremonial openings of the resort’s own dedicated state of the art electricity and de-salination plants plus much more that was a rival for anything in Dubai! All this whilst the country is in dire poverty – clearly the President prefers to spend his time doing jobs that keep his hand clean and not dealing with poverty, educatin or infant mortality rates or any other real  issue. Scary stuff!

Importantly,  we’ve got the fax so we’re now free to go down to the port and haggle for a place on one of the ships crossing the Caspian Sea, although given that there’s no schedule or crossing times (all will be explained in our next blog…) we can now look forward to possibly having a couple of days sitting amongst rail cars at the dock waiting for a ship in the extreme heat (it was still 33 degrees at 10:30 last night!!!) and have food for 4 days and 3 bottles of wine (thanks Paul and Dean for the advice on that one!)

See you on the other side!!!

12 Responses to “Ciao for now!……”

  1. Suzanne says:

    Good luck!! I hope you don’t have to wait too long xxx

  2. Jess says:

    My God – you guys have been through so much. Hope it all runs a lot more smoothly from now on..
    xx

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I just wanted to say James that on top of all the stuff directly related to what u guys r up to and ur progression, I love the informative stuff u write about the different countries and their politics and histories etc. Without the effect of the ‘fountain’ around to up my worldly knowledge I’ve become a complete ignaramous in ur absence! Love u guys x x

  4. Mum (AKA Jackie) says:

    Greetings from Malaysia! Have just read your latest blog – hope your onward passage is easier and more stress free. All sounded pretty horrendous but I’m sure you will look back on it in the near future and laugh. Bye for now, lots of love from Mum xxx

  5. mam/kate says:

    Somehow, The Caspian Sea conjures up images of adventure and romance. Just right for an epic honeymoon motobiking adventure.
    Lizzie’s absolutely right, Bob – we all miss the Fountain effect.
    Safe crossings, all my love, mamaxxxxxxxx

    ps. Just wrote you an email, Em x

  6. dad says:

    Ow! Wow! Ciao! Take a bow! Fairwinds allow (a good crossing – even if it is by diesel pow(er)).
    X

  7. Mandy & Ru says:

    Good luck on the next leg. Hoping you have left the turbulent waters behind and all will be easily / calm sailing… Love and hugs from us all – Ru, Mandy & Isabelle.

  8. Emma (book club Emma) says:

    Wow, you both deserve a break and a bit of ‘smooth sailing’ from now on! Happy trails Emma xxx

  9. Team Australia says:

    Take good care.
    S,D and M.

  10. Jackson says:

    Who’s “Hav”?……has Em ditched Janer for this Hav character

  11. Mama/Kate says:

    Well, you know what they say,Jackson. ‘Hav boat, will travel.’

  12. Nana (aged 99yrs) - by letter to K&J says:

    ‘Those Motoventurers are INCREDIBLE – especially EMILY! When they meet all these other wandering souls (all MEN) they must be struck dumb to see BEAUTIFUL Emily coping with all these hazards (muddy roads etc.) They are a unique couple. I read the blog time and again.

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