Last week I took two days to tour parts of southern Balkan Province in Turkmenistan, hitting the towns of Etrek, Esenguly, and Ekerem, as well as the villages of Oboy and Daneata (the villages are now on the OSM map based on this ground truth). En route for the first time I filled a 32 Gb memory card with Mapillary imagery and had to install a backup SD card in the Samsung Galaxy smartphone I use for collecting ground-level imagery. Those images are being uploaded now. It may take a few days, since the internet here is so slow.
It will take a while to enter all the edits from data collected on this trip. Much of the M37 is now four-lane dual carriageway (divided highway) so I need to add all the U-turns I marked on the Garmin GPS as well as lots of POIs.
The route took me within a stone’s throw of the border with Iran, but we only saw a few Iranian tractor-semitrailer rigs on the roads. Road conditions between Etrek and Ekerem were rough to very rough, with speed averaging 25 to 30 mph (40 to 50 kph). GPS traces have been uploaded from the Garmin nuvi, Pocket Earth, and Mapillary gpx file.
We discovered two new gas stations and confirmed a suspected third one. In Ekerem (formerly called Okarem, but the signs we saw are clearly labeled Ekerem) we lunched on Turkmen meat-filled somsas that cost 2 manat (about 57 cents) apiece from the only cafe in town while tailgating on the beach.