Passing the border took just over an hour. There were many police, customs officers and other bored looking officials stood round waiting to pounce on an exotic tourist. Fortunately I crossed the border with some French guys so the officials had 2 other people who they could victimise by scrutinising every last item in their luggage. Some foreigners have even had all their photos (of Turkmenistan) deleted here, so I counted myself lucky that at least that didn’t happen to me.
On the other side of the border area, the Uzbek customs demand that you write a list of all valuables which you bring into the country. If you have more than this when you exit, it may be confiscated. I noted all my electronics and only as an afterthought remembered the bike!
By the time I left the border the temperature was in the mid 40s and the sun beating down. The idea of spending the rest of the day here waiting for evening and cooler weather did not appeal. I was in need of some decent food and a good nights sleep. I therefore did not pass up the chance of a lift down to Bukhara.
Despite the suffering in the desert, Turkmenistan had been a great experience. For sure there is a certain ‘show’ given to the few tourists that venture here and there is no doubt that the Turkmen see a different side to life here and have many personal restrictions. Even exiting the country I was ushered to the front of the emigration line – nice for me but less so for the poor locals standing in the brutal heat. The people had been kind and inquisitive without being rude and were seemingly happy to see someone from the otherwise closed outside world in their country.