A solo trip to Mongolia on a 125cc

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by guerreronegro, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    Ouch! That is a royal rip off! But at 0,11 cents/l I guess you could consider this money to be funded from the savings on gas…

    did you have any idea beforehand about how much money it would take to cross the border?
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  2. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Damn @guerreronegro, catching up after being out for a 7 day ride and can’t believe what a pain in the arse getting into Turkmenistan was. Good thing you can have a laugh about it now. Not that I’d likely be near there in my lifetime, but I can assure you I’d skip that nightmare :lol2:lol2

    Must have been a bit surreal to travel like that, glad you were able to stay hydrated and caffeinated at the same time, not easy to do.

    Look forward to the next update :thumb
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  3. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    It is indeed not a cheap country to visit. I had calcultated an estimate of about 200 USD between the LOI and the visa. I also heard the ferry crossing was not an easy one but never to this extent. I thought to do the same itinereary you did originally but for some reason I decided to include Turkmenistan in the end. How was crossing from Georgia to Russia? I met another Spaniard up ahead and he told me he had to wait also for a long time and that the staff there were extemely rude.

    When the country you are visiting is run by a dentist who happens to sing rap then there is no other way to look at it.

    That aside, like other isolated countries it is interesting nonetheless to see how these people live and to what extent does the dictatorship facade actually goes. Ashgabat is a good example of that.
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  4. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

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    I think you are confusing me with another inmate, I have never travelled in these regions.

    Quite the character, this rapping dentist-dictator.…a fine example of reality being more absurd than any satire could be…

    I look forward to hearing more about your experience with the real life over there!
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  5. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    At this point the caffeine effect was starting to wear out and my head was aching. If I would not found company today, I would certainly have found a place to set the tent. The bike’s headlights barely lighten up the black asphalt and I had to stick in parallel with the Suzuki to have some decent visibility. Not that the pavement was in bad state, but it looked as if it were polished and every now and then there were minor potholes. The one good thing was that the almost 100 Farenheit reached during the day was starting to dissipate and it now felt fresher.

    Ashgabat is a sub real city. Riding its massive avenues with white buildings at night makes you feel as if you were in a post apocalliptic scenario with very little traffic around. We had not decided which place to spend the night and even though there was a humble hostel in iOverlander we went ahead and check the famous 5 star hotels in the city centre. I was exhausted from riding and decided to stay at the lobby where I could connect briefly to the Internet and check if my VPN was working. Pedro and Sofia went upstairs to check one of the rooms just to have a sneak peek of what 5 stars meant to the Turkmens. The hotel lobby looked luxurious but definitely not worth the 5 stars when compared to the west equivalents or Dubai. The room turned out to be the same and not worth the 180 USD they were asking per night. There were some rally participants however parked outside. I guess when travelling with more people you can apply some economies of scale. We found them outside and they told us to be aware of secret police when taking pictures around the city as they were stopped to make sure they deleted everything on their cameras.

    We went to check the other place and they offered us a simple room for 15 USD including laundry. Since the room had 4 beds, we shared it, so it was dirt cheap. This must have been the only hostel in Ashgabat as for what everyone had told us, hotels are heavily regulated in this country. One team almost got themselves in trouble with the authorities for accepting an invite of a local to sleep in their apartments. Not only them could have been detained, but also the locals could have been incarcerated as far as we were told. We went for a brief walk around the area after checking in, but everything was deserted. There was literally nobody around. We later learnt there was a curfew in place and since me particularly I was exhausted I decided to go to bed and spend some time during the day visiting the city and sorting out the vista to Tajikistan.

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  6. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    My bad, that was directed at @G B
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  7. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    Many days in this trip felt exhausting but I remember the last one being one of the toughest. Due to the lack of sleep it felt more as if I had booked a clubbing vacation in Ibiza rather than a motorcycle trip. An advantage of going east is that the time zones favor the rider. My internal clock woke me up quite early and since I was the first I decided to go by myself to explore the city in search hopefully of an Internet café to get my online visa.

    Ashgabat in the day is even more bizarre. I was able to see most of the buildings were abandoned with not so many people in the streets either. It was almost as the movie The Interview with everybody in the streets almost as if pretending to be part of a big act. The capital city is big in extension being everything in immaculate state. Compared to other places visited so far everything looked clean and all of the white buildings and cars are definitely interesting to observe in first person. Real state in Ashgabat, as many other cities is expensive and the job opportunities did not seem to abundant so that was my theory behind so many buildings being unoccupied.

    I found an Internet café which happened to be run by the state. I was asked for my passport, what was I going to use the Internet for and then charged 5 manats per hour. Computers there were still running Windows XP and everything I am doing is heavily monitored. I was not able to access my Google drive account and one of the girls had to came and disable some of the security processes. Weird. I went straight to the chase and accessed the Tajikistan eVisa page and submitted my application with a copy of my passport. I do not know if it was the crappy Internet connection, the computer, or the surveillance but I was not able to get the confirm message. I did get a confirmation email though. I was supposed to wait two days to get my visa approved. I left the building not confident about having applied for it correctly. The main door was now closed, and they signaled me another door from where to reach the exit. Lucky enough I was able to see one of the famous Turkmenistan weddings as I was getting out. Everybody was dancing and sinigng very loud. Women were dressed in colorful dresses. I learned while on the vessel with Equs, one of the local girls, that marriages here are still arranged and there is a bride pricing. She herself didn’t love her husband but she accepted the whole tradition thing as far as I understood from the translation on my phone. The ceremony seemed cool though, and I stayed there for a few minutes enjoying it as well as the AC before going out to the melting streets of Ashgabat.
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  8. G B

    G B Been here awhile

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    It is indeed not a cheap country to visit. I had calcultated an estimate of about 200 USD between the LOI and the visa. I also heard the ferry crossing was not an easy one but never to this extent. I thought to do the same itinereary you did originally but for some reason I decided to include Turkmenistan in the end. How was crossing from Georgia to Russia? I met another Spaniard up ahead and he told me he had to wait also for a long time and that the staff there were extemely rude.

    When the country you are visiting is run by a dentist who happens to sing rap then there is no other way to look at it.

    That aside, like other isolated countries it is interesting nonetheless to see how these people live and to what extent does the dictatorship facade actually goes. Ashgabat is a good example of that.


    My one year Business visa to Russia costed less than your entry cost in to Turkmenistan.
    The crossing from Georgia to Russia was OK,. I had a Business Visa so I had a plan as traveler have had problem crossing with Business Visa at this border. I had a letter from my former employer saying that I was on a business trip to sell trucks for him, did not need to use the letter. This is from my diary:
    There was little traffic at the border. I did not need to pay the traffic fine that I got in Georgia some days ago for overtaking some slow cars where it was not legal and at the Russian border they did understand that I am on a Business trip in Russia buying an selling MAN trucks, the crossing took less than 1,5 hour, They did fill some extra info into a computer using one finger and the guy that did that was a trainee so there were 2 to 4 guy teaching him.
  9. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Have found your RR to be very interesting and enjoyable. Please do continue. Petepilot
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  10. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    AGREED! This is the best RR in a long time, something different, very interesting. I keep checking back for updates, I'm hooked. LOL :lurk
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  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    While wanting to be respectful of other cultures, reading that gives me a serious WTF moment. Not my place to judge, but damn...that's frickin' nuts :lol3 :lol3.

    Look forward to the next update @guerreronegro, enjoying your report just as much now as when I read the first post :thumb
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  12. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    Arranged marriages is still broadly accepted and practised in a lot of countries, in the Southern African countries lobola is still paid by the groom and here in the UK with the multi cultural society it is broadly understood and some of the conservative families from these cultures still practices it here only behind closed doors
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  13. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

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    Most of Asia. And the marriages mostly last longer. I didn’t mean happier.
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  14. Lone Stranger

    Lone Stranger Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'm surprised there isn't a local expediter that could sort through the mess for you, or a higher ranking official that could get you quickly through for a "fee".
  15. Asia is a big place! I wouldn't say most of Asia...
  16. Lone Stranger

    Lone Stranger Been here awhile Supporter

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    Amazing how much that cost since you can get one at their consulate for as cheap as $35 USD. I gotta wonder why so much at the border.


    Screenshot (2).png
  17. Lone Stranger

    Lone Stranger Been here awhile Supporter

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    Overall a VERY good writeup and excellent photos as well!!! English may not be your mother tongue but you did very well and kept the story interesting the entire way.
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  18. willmaniac

    willmaniac Adventurer

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    Yep , they calculate your driving distance and then charge you a fuel offset fee for your expected fuel usage in Turkmen . And no you cannot take cans of fuel out of the country ! Still sounds like more than what i paid in 2018 . Im sure they jack the price up for the Mongol rally guys, i went the opposite way but the OP hit the jackpot with that boat. I sailed on the biggest head of shit ever !! That ship looks like a luxury cruise in comparison.
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  19. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    I was told about the practice before undertaking the trip but is this kind of thing you kind of don't really believe until you see for yourself. And yes, they do tend to last for life. I guess it is just another way to understand life. I was researching a bit and divorce does seem to be allowed as well, not sure which kind of social repercussions that might bring...

    Interesting to see that. Does it mention how much for the letter of invitatation? I was pretty sure as some people have mentioned that they explicitly take advantage of the Mongol Rally to unoficcially raise the prices. Seeing a bunch of westerners going off that boat must be like a fest for them. There is literally nothing you can do as a foreigner while waiting at the border but pay and leave ASAP.

    Not that I tend to like nor use these services because most of times these tend to also be a ripoff for something you can do yourself if you have patience. These said, I would probably have reconsidered at that point. This being a sea border makes these fixers kind of dissappear off the map as they tend to go to the land crossings instead.

    I managed to get some fuel back on one of the jerry cans i carried with me. Surprisngly the guys at the Uzbekistan border were so nice they even throw jokes at how much of an asshole were the officials in Turkmenbashi. You gotta love borders.
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  20. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Been here awhile

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    After the wedding, I decided to come back to the hostel to meet Pedro and Sofia but they had left for a walk as their Suzuki was still parked inside the compound. I ask one of the staff for a place to have some lunch. People in Turkmenistan are so kind he walk with me most of the way to the building 0.3 miles from the hostel. Without his help I would have never found it. This seemed like a government building but it had some kind of a restaurant built in it.
    IMG_20190809_130857.jpg
    While I was trying to order, I met a young woman speaking perfect English who helped me as she saw my gesture communication not working out so well. I only knew chicken in Russian is kuritsa, but sometimes this is not enough as not everybody understands the Russian language, or my pronunciation. In the end she tells me they have no chicken, only pasta so I order this instead. I take the chance and asked her everything related with the white buildings, gold teeth and no photo policy. She laughs and just tells me that these are the rules and there is nothing else but to accept it. For the gold teeth, she tells me the new generation does not share this kind of fashion and that this is not the case anymore with younger people. She also comes to explain me how even though they are Muslim, they can get alcohol and as a woman, wear whatever with no limitations to showing their face in public. It is a bit confusing specially when Iran which is so close to Turkmenistan has a completely different approach. I didn’t ask her but I was pretty sure this had to do with the process of Russification in the Soviet Union era. Before she left she told me to be aware of taking photos in public of people or buildings. Sometimes police can have zero tolerance to this.

    I wanted to make some pictures but after hearing this I kind of change my mind. Travelling solo implied that if I wanted a picture of myself, I had to mount the tripod or ask a local. Clearly, the latter was not going to work out and I could live with the pictures posted on the Internet, so I decided not to film or photograph nothing while in the capital. I walked a bit through the main streets close to the hostel seeing mostly embassies. After a bit of the same ghost streets and white buildings, I decided it is time to leave to the Darvaza crater. I do not think I have ever exited a capital as fast as Turkmenbashi. London at 3 AM has more traffic than this city in its rush hour. I completed the tour of the city by going throw some of its most symbolic buildings before taking the motorway towards the north. I met some of the French teams on the boat and we convoy together for a while. When they stopped for fuel I took my chance and got rid of the jacket. Not sure how hot it was that day but it was one of those days you would not mind falling without protection.
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