Welcome to Turkmenistan - Reading to Mongolia in a 1999 Yaris

It's been a busy few days for the lads having entered Turkmenistan on Sunday morning. Being the world’s third most repressive dictatorship, they were not too sure what to expect as the country only gets around 7,000 foreign tourists a year of which most are from Iran. 

They spent a night in Ashgabat which is a bizarre place. Despite the rest of the country being a bit grim, Ashgabat is spotless and contains the highest concentration of white marble buildings of any city in the world!

They also spent a night camping at the Darvaza Gas Crater which is the site of a collapsed natural gas rig which hasn't stopped burning for 40 years.

One thing they did not expect was how bad the roads were to be. The Yaris stood up well to the test and despite getting stuck in the sand a couple of times, a combination of helpful lorry drivers and a lot of pushing meant they were able to get to Uzbekistan last night. 

The next part of the challenge begins with a big drive of around 700km down to Samarkand. The plan is to hopefully get the car into a garage tomorrow to see if they can get the car lifted a little as with 3 of them and their kit, the Yaris is riding a little low. However, despite the knocks the plucky Yaris is still running like a dream.

The real test will come over the next week when the lads will tackle the Pamir Highway.