I’m still in Dushanbe, having decided not to start riding in the heat of the day. The result of my morning visit to the Turkmenistan Embassy was a disappointing one: I have been refused a visa. The disappointment was soon replaced with more positive thoughts as I realised the ensuing adventure is an attractive one. Without being able to pass through Turkmenistan, my route to Iran now involves riding across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and getting a ferry across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. The only negative thing about this is that I will likely spend much less time in Iran, given the fact that I won’t be cycling the length of it.

Getting a definite answer about my Turkmenistan visa has made me feel happier about the fact I have stayed in Dushanbe for so long. I can now formulate a proper plan for coming weeks, rather than leave Dushanbe with my immediate future unknown. If I didn’t get an answer today, I would likely have tried my luck at the border between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, simply hoping that my visa got granted in the meantime and that the Turkmenistan border post could find it in their system. They would have informed me that my visa has been refused, and then I would have been stranded: stamped out of Uzbekistan, but not allowed into Turkmenistan.

About 15 minutes ago I was sitting outside the hostel with a group of fellow travellers when I heard one guy, who was in a conversation with someone else, say he was from Finland. This set of a series of reactions in my brain, at the end of which I realised something astonishing. “Have you been to Albania?” I asked him. Yes was the reply. “Were you in Albania seven years ago?” This time the ‘yes’ was accompanied by a slightly bemused expression. “Do you remember having a night out in Berat, playing pool and having fun on bumper cars?” The bemused expression turned into a slightly freaked out one that lingered for a moment before the answer came: yes. “Give me a sec, I’ve got a photo of you”. It took a while with the slow internet, but I eventually found a photo of him in the depth of my Facebook albums. It showed him in the action of breaking the triangle at the start of a game of pool. I always knew I am good at remembering faces (and never names), but even for me this was taking it to a new level.

Tomorrow…

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 20,875km