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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 21 Jan 2009
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Is turkmenistan worth it?

OK, so we were planning to go Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Russia, having already given up hope of Iran due to the costs. We're leaving UK at the end of April, initially heading through the balkans.

Turkmenistan is looking like a potential sticking point. It seems there is a questionmark over the possibility of a tourist visa, and potential difficulties if the ferry is delayed.

We have the option of a tourist visa but only by paying £500 or so for the guided tour.

Now, everything I've read about Turkmenistan, and the stans in general, has me utterly convinced that this is the way to go, but my travel partner isn't willing to pay the £500.

That leaves going via Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine into Russia, then back into the stans to do the Pamir highway. My view on that route is that it is as boring as hell and largely ugly, featureless industrial wasteland, especially Ukraine, and will give us none of the satisfaction, achievement and adventure of going through Turkmenistan.

So I'd be really interested in your thoughts.

What would we be missing by avoiding Turkmenistan?

How would Bulgaria-Romania-Ukraine-Russia-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan compare to Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan? What we would miss? Is it just as nice? What are the roads like? What are the people like? What is the experience like? Is there even any contest?

Is there a way to get from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan by ferry so that we skip Turkmenistan but everything else is the same?

Most grateful for your thoughts.

Cheers,
Al
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  #2  
Old 21 Jan 2009
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Iran

Hi Al,

Can't help on the actual question, but am curious as to why you see Iran as expensive? Apparently it is cheap as chips once you get in, including fuel at 10c a litre or similar ...

Cheers
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  #3  
Old 21 Jan 2009
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Just the carnet. Will cost us the best part of £1000. Although we'd get back £375 on returning the carnet my travel partner isn't willing to bet on successfully returning the carnet, so it's £1000 for 10 days in Iran which doesn't add up. If it were down to me I'd probably go for it, but then I'm not traveling alone. It gives us £1000 to spend elsewhere (which I'd be happy to spend on the tourist thing through Turkmenistan, but again, I'm not travelling alone....)


I suppose that's another part of the question. From what I've read the "guided tour" across Turkmenistan sounds like fun. Chance to meet some other adventurous travellers, get shown around, have a bit of a breather from doing everything independently and get an introduction to traveling in the Stans. To me it actually sounds ideal. Staying a few nights in hotels won't be an entirely unpleasant change from camping. Just the comfort factor of having 5 days all worked out in advance would appeal to me.

But can anyone who's "been there, done that "say what's it really like? Is it a good time or is it a pain in the arse not being free to make your own way?

Cheers,
Al
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Old 21 Jan 2009
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Ahhh

Ahh - all makes sense now. We need our Carnet for other countries onwards, so it is not a singular iten for us.

You can alaways go for the bank guarantee mind. This is going to cost us about £100. But there is a nother £250 for the RAC on top of that ...
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  #5  
Old 21 Jan 2009
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http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...question-33620

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...hi-ferry-29768


The above threads deal with the ferry questions...take a peek....search the HUBB or try using google with your search terms and the HUBB...plenty of archived info on the HUBB...

Laslty, I can't begin to tell you whether its worth it as I'm not sure what you value during your trip...but I definitely found it to be a pleasant surprise.

Hope that helps...
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Old 21 Jan 2009
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Yup, read all that, and everything else I can find. Really looking for opinions on routes from people who've been there.

What do I value? I guess I'm looking for breathtaking scenery, interesting architecture, the chance to experience unfamiliar cultures, and to have an experience worth remembering. The things that make the difference between a life changing experience versus a long bike ride.....
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Old 21 Jan 2009
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Turkeystan is a historical oddity and like no other stan...but I guess you could say that about each stan...

Its one of the dirt cheapest Stans to visit if you do it on a transit visa...quite a bot of unique things to see...like the Darvasa crater, Marie, their very ancient market outside Ashgabat...and the best looking ladies in all the Stans!!

The last point is worth the visit
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Old 21 Jan 2009
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Get a transit visum...

Try to get a longish transit visum. We got a 7 day transit Visum in brussels (trough visum.be They have a very good service/relationship with most embassy that make things work) last year which gives some time for sight seeing without the need for a compulsory guide.
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Old 21 Jan 2009
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Robbert - So you were able to get a transit visa in advance without problems? Was that recently?


MotoEdde - You've convinced me!
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RTW 2009 - Europe - Central Asia - Russia - Mongolia - Korea - Canada - USA

2010 - Near-fatal brain injury - hit by car while cycling

Scandinavia 2011 - Germany - Denmark - Sweden - Norway - Finland - Estonia - Latvia - Poland

Asia 2011 - Vietnam - Cambodia - Laos - Thailand - Malaysia

http://rideroundtheworld.com
http://facebook.com/AliTheBiker

"A study shows drivers responsible for 87% of accidents with cyclists. Another shows drivers fail to see 22% of cyclists in clear view"
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  #10  
Old 21 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CornishDeity View Post
... Iran as expensive? Apparently it is cheap as chips once you get in, including fuel at 10c a litre or similar...
Fuel has been gone up lately. Now if you don't have chip ration card locals use then you need to pay black market rate that is 4 times more, 4000 rials per liter. That makes something like 35c.
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  #11  
Old 22 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todderz View Post
Robbert - So you were able to get a transit visa in advance without problems? Was that recently?


MotoEdde - You've convinced me!
That must have been June/July 2007 (for the Visum), and crossed TM end of September 2007

time flies... It's 2009 already
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  #12  
Old 22 Jan 2009
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I was there May 2007...
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  #13  
Old 25 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todderz View Post
OK, so we were planning to go Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Russia, having already given up hope of Iran due to the costs. We're leaving UK at the end of April, initially heading through the balkans.

Turkmenistan is looking like a potential sticking point. It seems there is a questionmark over the possibility of a tourist visa, and potential difficulties if the ferry is delayed.

We have the option of a tourist visa but only by paying £500 or so for the guided tour.

Now, everything I've read about Turkmenistan, and the stans in general, has me utterly convinced that this is the way to go, but my travel partner isn't willing to pay the £500.

That leaves going via Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine into Russia, then back into the stans to do the Pamir highway. My view on that route is that it is as boring as hell and largely ugly, featureless industrial wasteland, especially Ukraine, and will give us none of the satisfaction, achievement and adventure of going through Turkmenistan.

So I'd be really interested in your thoughts.

What would we be missing by avoiding Turkmenistan?

How would Bulgaria-Romania-Ukraine-Russia-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan compare to Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan? What we would miss? Is it just as nice? What are the roads like? What are the people like? What is the experience like? Is there even any contest?

Is there a way to get from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan by ferry so that we skip Turkmenistan but everything else is the same?

Most grateful for your thoughts.

Cheers,
Al
I´m very interested in your post, because I´m planning the same travel for 2010. If I find something I´ll let you know.
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