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Tashkent - Ashgabat Rally #6

Day 8 – Navruz in Bukhara

Leaving Mary was the antithesis of entering it. The road once again became crater-filled as we began the Mary-Turkmenabad stretch. Camels, open fields, and Turkmen caravans curious about foreign visitors welcomed us on our journey. About halfway between Mary and Turkmenabad, the Mini Cooper popped its third and fourth tires (the fourth being more of a bubble than a pop). Jason went ahead in the Subaru by himself to the nearest town and brought back a Vulkanisatiya worker with tools to replace the tires. After some shuttling back and forth and about 90 minutes lost, both cars continued to the Uzbek border.

Crossing back into Uzbekistan was about the same as leaving. Confused Turkmen officials not sure how to process American tourists. Uzbek entry officials not recognizing their own country’s diplomatic ID cards. Unsure procedures how to admit a Japanese national with a diplomatic visa. Ledgers… ledgers everywhere. However, after a couple of hours, all the requisite stamps again ruled the day and we reentered Uzbekistan.

Shortly after reentry, we were greeted by our long lost cousin: the typical Uzbek driver. Lanes became suggestions, Matizes and Mashrutkas with methane tanks on the roof ruled the roads, and the group carefully entered Bukhara on Navruz afternoon.

Our arrival into Bukhara was a complete 180 from just a week prior. The temperature had increased by 51 degrees in just a few days, and the city was alive with festival activity. All in all, it was a very welcome end to the journey.

Day 9 – Return to Tashkent

With the day lost in Ashgabat due to the car issues, we had to nix the planned stop in Samarkand and instead headed straight home from Bukhara. A long, but otherwise unremarkable drive finished our epic adventure, and both families went their separate ways at the outskirts of the city shortly before nightfall, bringing an end to nine exhilarating days through some of the most remote locations on Earth.

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