Duden Waterfall, Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Busy travel day - Turkmenistan night train!

We woke up at our group campsite near the fiery crater at about 7:00am Friday morning. Not the best sleep because some of the drivers were up late (probably drinking vodka) and they weren't very quiet about it. Oh well. It seems I must be a light sleeper because Ruth slept right through it, and only a couple of other people mentioned it. 

Lots of time to nap in the vehicle on the long ride back to Ashgabat.

They made us a quick breakfast in the desert before we left.

Breakfast in the desert at sunrise.

Sunrise in the Karakum Desert at 7:45am.

We had a four hour drive back to Ashgabat and I didn't bother taking any photos. Anything interesting is included in yesterday's post on the way up there anyhow. I slept on and off most of the way. 

Now is a good time to tell you more about the people on the trip. Including our trip leader Johnny, there were 20 of us plus our local guide Aziz who was with us pretty much all the time. Can't say enough good things about Aziz. Just a great guy, and probably the best guide we have ever had on a group trip.

So, out of the 20 people on the trip, there were 13 guys and 7 gals.

We had all been on at least one of Johnny's previous trips, some as many as four times. We already knew three of them from our Mauritania trip in January. This one sold out within 12 hours of the time he announced it, and at the time he had only announced it to people who had traveled with him previously. Turkmenistan had been totally closed off to the rest of the world for three years during Covid.

What an interesting and totally fun group of people. Seven with USA passports, And a real mix of the rest. Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Philippines, Colombia, Singapore... and of course two Canadians!

Ruth and I were the oldest, then two people in their 50's, and the rest between 28 and 40. And of course a real variety of careers and travel experiences. 

I had the beef stroganoff. It was delicious.

Back in Ashgabat after the long drive, we had some time at the hotel to shower and get refreshed and go out for a bite to eat.

Ruth had the orange chicken and we shared some fries and grilled veggies.

Total cost was around $16.50 USD ($22.50 CAD) including a beer and a glass of wine.

Then a bus came and picked up our group and took us to the train station for our 5:30pm departure to the city of Turkmenbashi and the Caspian Sea. This is an overnight train with sleeper compartments and our group pretty much took up an entire car. Ruth and I were lucky and got a four person compartment to ourselves.

The train from Ashgabat to Turkmenbasi.

We played a couple of games of backgammon while waiting for departure.

Taken looking out the window as we were leaving the station.

Ruth on the train to Turkmenbashi.

One of the guys took our photo.

And then our conductor came up behind us. Now, keep in mind that this guy doesn't speak any English. Only Russian. And our Russian has now grown to about five words, so not exactly conversational. However two of our group can speak some Russian, so it was good to have them around. 

Anyhow, this conductor guy was hilarious. There is no smoking or drinking allowed on the train, however our group definitely likes their alcohol, and we had several bottles on board. So we bribed the conductor to allow us to drink in our private compartments. But things kind of got a little out of hand and it turned into a full on party. But our conductor guy was quite happy to come by every once in a while and sneak a few shots himself. It was hilarious!

Our conductor.

He was a good guy. I hope he still has a job!

Our compartment.

Yes, there was a little party going on in this one!
Amanda, Sean, Jash, Dan, Ambia, Lauren, Scott.

There's a new conductor in town!

We eventually did make it to bed, but Ruth and I were actually pretty early. I think some of them were up well past midnight!

Stay tuned... the next day was fantastic!

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And in Canada...

6 comments:

  1. Maybe in my next life, I'll be a world and/or universe traveler lol What fun you had!!

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    1. We are so happy that we have the health and the mindset to travel the way we do because we know that most people couldn't do it or don't want to do but we are having a great time and will continue for as long as we can.

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  2. If natural gas is plentiful how are they going to meet the Climate requirement of the EU , China, India and Trudeau. You never mention electric vehicles.??? Just saying. Tom E

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    Replies
    1. Turkmenistan has actually just opened up the first phase of their very first "Smart City" in June of this year. It took them four years to built it from scratch and has lots of eco-friendly/smart technology all added into it. In this city they have electric vehicles including electric buses and 15 km of bicycle lanes.

      We were able to see the the lights of the city from the train a little while after leaving Ashgabat. It is really impressive what they have done.

      https://sdgs.un.org/partnerships/arkadag-city

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  3. It was a great adventure for me! I liked everything; hotel, food, train, the desert was the best!

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    Replies
    1. Lol, it was a great adventure for us as well! We so totally enjoyed our time in Turkmenistan and really wish we could have stayed longer. Maybe in the future they will make it easier to get into the country and then we could come back and see more of what we missed.

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