Just my two pennies worth as we prepare to visit the famous lakes of Kyrgystan.
Iran got wearing - the heat, lack of beer and women shuffling around in black tents. It leaves you drained after a week, so we were excited to move on to the 'stans.
Turkmenistan. A fascinating place, but possibly in my top three worst places I've ever been to, including Derby. Obstructive officialdom (a five dollar fine near the border for "playing loud music whilst driving"), the blatant chasm between the rich and the poor (who are clearly the model for the "Sand people" in Star Wars) and the general atmosphere. Admittedly, we didn't get to meet many real Turkmen, and the women looked lovely in their traditional gowns - a welcome change from Iran, but I'm in no hurry to go back.
Uzbekistan. The bloody police in this country. They're sat by the side of the road every kilometre with their ridiculous orange batons that they use to flag you down to inspect your documents or try and fine you. We got done for speeding - and paid the guy off with a one pound coin! The famous cities were nice, but getting out of the country wasn't. We turned what should have been a straightforward 30km drive to the border into a 9 hour marathon of getting lost in a restricted area, chats in the local police station about who were were and what we were doing, and finally being let through the border at 4am, only to discover that the Kyrgyz weren't going to let us in until 6am. A couple of uncomfortable hours in the car in no mans land and then we were finally through!
Kyrgyzstan. One of the highlights of the trip so far. Big mountains, high passes, nomads and hardly a policeman in sight. The road to Bishkek was amazing both in quality and in the sheer engineering as we wended our way through mighty valleys and past large lakes and dams. A night camping on a meadow high in the hills meant that finally our cold weather gear was required, and thank god we brought it! Currently in Bishkek, but we're going to spend a few more days here in the countryside and hopefully staying with nomads. The Mongol Rally people we've met are mostly bombing it all the way to Ulan Bator where they have a black tie do arranged for the 19th, but it seems a shame to rush now we're here. So, off to eat sheeps eyes and intestines with the locals...