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Sorry guys it has been a bit hectic. Day 21 Tashkent to Samarkand Day.

Late start today 9h45 so we do not really know what to do with ourselves. The trip today was 260 km and all the way was a double lane road our 'dual carriage way' in some paces excellent and in others badly damaged and rutted by trucks.

Day 31 to 39

What was interesting was that all along the route these was some form of agriculture while in Kazakhstan there were miles and miles of open planes. The route was densely populated and the children were particularly enthusiastic, waving furiously whenever we passed them and were even more enthusiastic when we waved back.

Because the day was short we stopped for lunch at the time control only to find that the cafe was closed, so it was chocolate bars and coke again.

The local driving here is terrible and most of it takes place at high speed. This evening at dinner we found out the one car was T boned by a bus and another car saw a horrendous accident where a truck demolished a local car.

We now have a problem with the car where between 40 and 60 the car starts to shimmy when you go over any kind of bump and we have the choice of either accelerating and driving through until it stops which ends up driving through town at high speeds or having to slow right down. Anybody can guess which option we take.

The hotel we are in tonight (Samarkand) must have been magnificent in the sixties in fact it is huge and is still in fairly good nick. The rooms have nice frilly bed spreads and curtains and a light and radio console looks like a control panel for the Apollo landing module.

Tomorrow is a rest day and I will most probably do the walking tour of Samarkand. Unfortunately the tourist attraction is the local bazaar and in theory they are not that different to the rest unless you really have a lot of time to spend there and get to the places that are local.

The local currency is The Sume and the exchange rate is 2800 to one and the largest note they have is 1000, in over word less that 50 US cents so everyone is walking around with bricks of money.

In the morning off we went in convoy to get fuel because there is a fuel shortage in Uzbek. When we got there they charged us a different price than was on the pump and told us that even though it said 80 octane on the pump it was 92 octane, Personally I think it is more of controlling a monopoly than a shortage.

The walking tour was good and it was great to be getting some exercise. The Mosques history was interesting as was the local produce Bazaar – market. What was most interesting was that the History is always written by the victors. GhengisKhan was a bad guy here because he kicked a bit of butt and their Sultan was the Good guy and in Mongolia it was obviously the other way around.

Next morning it was of early to cross the border into Turkmenistan. Once again that roads were lined with agriculture, mainly cotton and the border crossing went well, only 2 and a half hours.

We got a police escort from the border and we were not sure what the signal to us was. The cars coming towards us immediately pulled off the road when they saw the police car coming towards them. Our first night here was in Turkmenabad and the more time we spent here the more we realised the Turkmenistan was a police state. The Next day we left on 630 km trip to Ashgabad the capital. I would need more time to explain the history and the Dictators that have run the country, but they have the 5th highest growing GDP. Anyway any description of Ashgabad would not do it justice. It is a completely rebuilt city where every and I mean every building is clad with white marble. The city looks as if the city planners went to Disney world and have now tried to recreate it. The craziest of all is that there is a policeman on every street corner and you are not allowed 'supposed to take photographs.

Our drive today was uneventful except that we ran out of fuel, anybody that knows Pet knows that he always tries to go to the edge. So this time I did not insist that we fill up knowing that there was a very good chance that I would be able to say I told you so. I was a bit pissed off because that time that we had work hard to get ahead was now out the window and even though the first car behind us had fuel, I did not miss the opportunity to say I told you so.

Day 27 Once again time seems to be just disappearing into to nowhere.

Yesterday was a long wait and then a blur of driving. We arrived at the Turkmen border at 10h00 and got out at three on the Iran side with a 600 km drive to Gorgan. The border was a bit of a bun fight of passports going to the top then the bottom of the pile.

Anyway yesterday was a day of extremes. Just after the border when we had to fill up and some local decides he's going to try and make a quick buck and tells us that we have to pay double the pump price because of sanctions on Iran (He was the only person that spoke English so you get drawn in. After establishing that he does not work therefore and the pump attendant was getting uncomfortable, we told but he could and left. We later found out that some other people after us did pay double.

The rest of the journey was crazy. Some towns (most) the people lined the streets and cheered us through, with motorcycles and cars driving next to us in Kamikaze driving styles trying to take of pictures.

Then out the blue in one town this little shit comes running out and throws a stone and hits the side of the car.

The we arrive at 12h00 (10h30 local time in Iran because of the time shift) and the hotel is totally overbooked and everyone ends up sharing rooms with people you don't know and you are actually too tired to care.

Today from Gorgan to Rasht was the best reception we received. Literally like returning war hero's, in fact in one town we where stoped by the police so that the locals could give each car passing through a bunch of flowers.

Then when things were going well the wheels started falling off, literally and the day turned into one of those Peking Paris endurance days. We stripped wheels to change spokes and put on the spare welded wheels.

Then the welded wheel split again so we only had three good wheels one partially split wheel and two totally stuffed wheels with disaster and 80 km still to go looming.

Long story short, we found this dilapidated workshop and managed tp do temporary repairs on two wheels so we at least have an emergency spare. To top it all the engine has been down on power and we found that we have been running on seven cylinders.

Tomorrow is another day and I am sure that things will look brighter after a good night's sleep which I am going to get now. We only had four hours last night.

We are back to where so many days have just flow by the I don't really know where the time has gone.

So let me work backwards again.

We are now in Theresalonika in Greece; yesterday was Istanbul, Abant Lake, Erzurum, and Tabriz. Not sure if the spelling is right.

So we left Gorgan feeling very sorry for ourselves with the engine down on power and our suspect wheels, straight into a 2500m climb up into the mountains in the mist. Great but a bit scary because there are no crash barriers. At the moment I do not remember too much of the trip except every now and again these .......ing little arab kids throw stones at you. (the Car)

On the way to Tabriz the wheel on the car breaks up and we put on our last spare. About four k's further we find a tyre and welding place and get really aggressive with the welding. The guys that do the work are a great bunch and we leave there feeling humbled by the kind of help that we receive from people. Almost all refusing to receive payment.

Tabriz we receive a Royal welcome. The veteran car club of the province have arranged a Gala dinner for us and we are all ferried from the Hotel in vintage cars to the occasion. As in Africa the politicians hijack the event to get some coverage but we have a nice evening with great hospitality.

The next day we have six hundred km with a border crossing. We hit the road with a vengeance and get to a time control with an hour and a half to spare. The whole morning we have been looking out for a place to repair our rims and our guardian angel has still been looking after us and we find a place to take off the tire and do welding at the time control.

Through the border that takes us about four hours with the Iranians just being full off s...t and being harde gat just to show us who is boss.

Then it is a long quick run from the border to Erzurum, which is a high altitude border skiing town. That night I wake up not feeling well and realise that I have altitude sickness. The last few days we have been climbing up and down from sea level up to 2500 m and down again so the body eventually just says enough is enough. At first I thought it was the alcohol after the three dry days in Iran.

From there it's off to Abant Lake. What a surprise, again high up in the mountains. But this time I changed cars and moved to the Le France which really a 14,5 litre old (191.. something truck). Well not realising that the last 20 km are a climb into the mountains and it was snowing. Fortunately I had put on all my warm clothes so it was an exhilarating and exciting trip. Arriving in Abant in an open car while it is snowing.

Next morning we leave early to get to Istanbul to have a look at the engine. What I forgot to mention was that we had a welcoming party of Peters mates at Abant. Needles to say they were surprised that I was not in the car and the Lizzie, Dave's wife from the Le France gets out the car.

Anyway the day at the garage is really successful with adjustment to the valve clearance we sort out the power problems, with what we thought might be a huge job ending up in a few hours work.