From Bajgiran (Iran) to Ashgabat (Turkmenistan).
Cooking time; From 1 hour to whole day.
Difficulty; 3/5

Dish introduction

It’s probably one of the most feared dishes on the menu, mostly for how unknown it is. There are many legends about it, and stories that make the cook hide behind the pans. Well, here we give you one recipe that worked smoothly and not too stressy for us. Sharp your knife and make space on the kitchen top, is gonna get messy!

Ingredients

  • Carnet de passage with the entry stamp of Iran.
  • Passport.
  • Iran visa not expired.
  • Turkmenistan transit or tourist visa (see the article Turkmenistan visa)
  • Car papers.
  • Dollars in cash. Around 200$ should be plenty… But in this border don’t mess around with no cash. Really.
  • Good luck; Always helps.

Method

-1st Step; Exiting Iran

  • If you have any Rial (local money) left you can exchange them for Turkmen at a black market rate on the border, the guy will find you!
  • The first thing to do is to show all your papers and a very inefficient officer will register you on a computer.
  • After this short control, there is still 2 km to drive before the real border and costumes control; There is a Y road, take the left if you don’t find anyone that guides you. There is no clear sign. 
  • Once in the big building, someone is gonna take you to the Carnet de Passage big registration books, and after adding you in the endless and probably useless list. They will stamp your CdP. Anyway, make sure they do! You can not leave the country without your stamp! And you can get in huge trouble to get your deposit back from your country without these stamp.
  • After that, you have to cross the vehicle to the other side of the fence and come back by food to do the passport control.
  • One of the passport offices will look accurately at your passport and eventually stamp it. Then you cross to the border by food and you can join your vehicle there.
  • Quick and overlooked luggage control right in front of the Turkmenistan borders. You have to show your passport again, probably to control the exit stamp.

-2nd step; Welcome to Turkmenistan.

  • One meter far from the entrance gate there is already the first passport and car papers control. They will ask you if you have dollars in cash. Don’t know what happens if the answer is no… just in case, bring them.
  • Leave the vehicle parked wherever they tell you and go to the administration fee cashier, they will give you a receipt, we paid 5$ each.
  • More serious passport control will be done, pictures, accurate examination of your face compare to the picture on your passport, fingerprints scan, and some random questions. It might take a while, but you will get your stamp.
  • Separate driver and passenger. Make sure the driver take the money and is willing to bargain with them.
  • The passenger just have to show the passport and kill the time talking about football, especially if it’s world cup time! Otherwise, they will get eventually bored willing to examine your vehicle more accurately. 
  • The driver will be put in an office, and will be asked for an enormous sum of money, including road taxes, fuel compensation, entry fee, and rent of the GPS tracker that you will have to install in your vehicle! They asked us for more than 180$!!!!!!
  • You can bargain the price, especially if you are driving a truck and they ask you 80 dollars more than a normal car. Cigarettes are a very powerful bargaining tool, they are very expensive in the country!
  • Anyway it is gonna be expensive, we paid around 120$ and 2 cigarettes; surely the most expensive border so far.
  • After it, they will give you a paper as a receipt, and an itinerary map at the same time. You better don’t change the route you had planned before. Better don’t know how Turkmen prisons look from inside 😉
  • Then they will probably check your vehicle again. We didn’t even have a quick look. It was closing time and everyone was looking forward to going home. We got lucky here, we know from someone they emptied the entire car Remember your best weapon again bureaucracy is time. 
  • After all, you are good to go, driving 30 km in a lonely military road, where supposedly you are not allowed to get pictures. The light was too good we could not stop ourselves =)
  • Welcome to one of the most special countries we have ever drive. 

Tips to make this dish a bit more digestible

  • To get to the border by your own car take the road 875 going from Kutxan, is really beautiful. We tried a more off-road solution, it was an amazing road but as well, but it was close at the very end and we have to go 200km back. Check it well.
  • Do not leave Iran without your Carnet de Passage stamped! You can lose all de deposit back in your country or wait for 7 years to get it back!
  • If you want to cross this border quick we advise going there 30 min before closing time. Like that they are as much in a hurry as you are. There is the risk of spending the night on a border, but for us, it worked very well, we were dead scared of this border and end up being the fastest of all!
  • To us, the opening our was from 9.00 a.m. to 16,30 p.m. Iranian time. But double check it, it might have changed.
  • Don’t say you have more cash than you need it for this border, you may have to pay some tax otherwise.
  • To don’t get too long with all the medicine check, you can have a small first aid box somewhere easy to find with nothing else than some stitches and scissors. Always works for us.
  • No drones allowed in this country, so hide them well and always say NO if they ask for. Same rule for parachutes (we were asked for…)
  • Easy to change money at an Iranian site.