Charging in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Charging in Bishkek

Niyaz from Bishkek got in touch with us, before we arrived at his city. He is the only Tesla driver in Kyrgyzstan. Another Tesla!!! We were so excited to see his white Tesla Model S 85 P (used to be a S 60, but he “pimped” it). Niyaz literally spoiled us. He organized a flat in the city center, where we could stay. In the basement parking of this apartment building, Niyaz has installed a CEE-32 to let Tesla-friends from Kazakhstan charge. He, himself, has an American Tesla that can only charge with one phase. It felt like a home away from home to have an entire apartment to ourselves, including a large kitchen and washing machine. We are grateful for Niyaz to introducing us to his city and helping us with the apartment and charging!

Meeting an old friend from Zurich

On our first real day in Kyrgyzstan, we went hiking in the beautiful Ala Archa National Park that is only 30 km away from Bishkek. In the early morning after this hike, Timon, a friend from Zurich, and his friend Arnauld, arrived in Bishkek to go mountaineering for the following 3 weeks in the Kyrgyz mountains. We found out only 2-3 weeks ago that our plans are overlapping and that we can all meet in Kyrgyzstan. We had a blast together and I am so glad it just worked out wonderfully.

Border Kyrgyzstan – Kazakhstan

After 3 great days in Kyrgyzstan, where we got absolutely fascinated by its natural beauty (we want to return some day to go hiking here), we had to leave towards Kazakhstan. The border isn’t far from Bishkek. Shortly before arriving to the border we exchanged the rest of our Kyrgyz money to the Kazakh currency. While doing this we apparently parked in a restricted area. That is what the police told us, when they pulled us out, a few meters after we left the parking spot. Benedikt discussed with them for 20 minutes and in the end, we could go without paying the fine of about 25€. It just seemed that they have the non-parking area there, to fine people who are parking there. They also fine/get bribed of people crossing an unnecessary stop sign without stopping (check out Caravanistan).

The border process itself went on the Kyrgyz side very smooth. On the Kazakh side, I got pulled out and had to go to a car-scanner. They seem to thoroughly search for drugs at this border. I played the little, innocent girl and could leave the car-scanning hall (without even using the car scanner or any other searching happening) only 10 minutes later. Another guy in the hall told me that he is already waiting for 2 hours. The border controllers dissembled his car. I left the border area after maybe 1 hour, all in all. The drive to Almaty took us another 2-3 hours after the border.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
connection to fuse-box 220 volt 3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 70 kWh

Charging in Taraz, Kazakhstan

Running currents in Shymkent

The resort hotel Alma Tau is not far from Shymkent. The city is described as Southern Kazakhstan’s most vibrant city. Good for us, since we needed to do some “business” there. In an extremely efficient manor, we first bought a Kazakh SIM-card and later a car insurance. We were absolutely impressed on how little time (and money) we spend on organizing both of it. Something that is not to imagine in many countries we passed. In the late afternoon, we continued our drive to Taraz.

Finding a hotel and three-phase electricity in Taraz

Situated on the route from Shymkent to Bishkek, Taraz is one of Kazakhstan oldest cities. In the 11th and 12th century it was a wealthy silk road stop. It got destroyed by Genghis Khan and only had a Russian rebirth in the 19th century. The current appearance has still a soviet charm that we did not further inspect.

It took us a while to find a hotel that also allowed us to charge on three-phase electricity (this was necessary to have a fully charged car for the way from Taraz to Bishkek, about 320 km). We ended up staying at a modern hotel that offered us a room for 12 hours (for a reduced price – something that seems to be common in Kazakhstan). The set up for the charging took Benedikt quite long, since about 8 people thought they knew better what to do. In the end, our open adapter was connected to a fuse-box. We left in the morning before nine to drive to the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Border Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan

The border close to Chaldovar was probably one of the easiest of the last weeks. They quickly checked the car on the Kazakh side. Afterwards I drove to the Kyrgyz side, did a little small-talk, got the new stamp and left with the car. I think the whole border process only took us 30 minutes. Incomparable to some other borders we had before… (see this post).

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
connection to fuse-box 220 volt 3 *  13 amperes  8 kW  40 kWh

Charging outside of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and having a crazy border-crossing

Exiting Iran

It was a few minutes past 9 a.m. when we arrived in Bajgiran at the border between Iran and Turkmenistan. We were supposed to meet an agent of Hossein (Hossein was the one bringing us into Iran at the first place – see this post). We only found him after already having passed through the first police checkpoint. A confusing process to export our car from Iran started right away. I had expected a short wait and quick-and-easy process (we just wanted to leave the country…), but I got proven wrong (again). Benedikt and I criss-crossed the border buildings, always following that agent (who only spoke Farsi). We waited and waited, went downstairs after a while and finally got exit stamps in our passports. After that was done, we couldn’t find the agent anymore.

It was probably over 1.5 hours later that I finally found him. He was at a very particular clerks desk. A guy there started to explain to me that we have a big problem. Our customs paper indicate that we would leave Iran at the Nordooz border to Armenia and not to Turkmenistan, where we are right now. The paper also stated the car is grey, even though its main color is black. The people from the Bajgeran border already contacted the customs officials in Nordooz. Everyone is waiting for a letter of the border boss in Nordooz that indicates that we can leave Iran towards Turkmenistan. I was told that this can take 1, 2 or 3 hours or a day. A day?!? I started to be really concerned. We had to get to Turkmenistan that day. Our whole trip, including guides, hotels and visa, was planned that way that we should enter Turkmenistan on the 17th of June (it is obligatory to have a planned trip with a guide in Turkmenistan if you enter the country with a tourist visa).

At around 1 p.m. we got informed that the letter of the border in Nordooz arrived! Ufff…. Because every border official had to type our customs form in their computer with a slow two finger method, it took another hour till we could leave the building. At 2:30, after about 5 hours at the Iranian side of the border, we finally left Iran.

Entering Turkmenistan

The Tesla had to wait in no-man’s land, while Benedikt and I got our Turkmen visa in the police building (we only had letter of invitations from a tour company). I was taking the passenger way, while Benedikt got the car registered (btw: we had to pay petrol-tax even though we tried to explain that we will not use petrol – it wasn’t understandable for them). We met our first tour guide and driver, Mr. Zadar, who was already patiently waiting since 11:00 a.m.

Compared to the Iranian side of the border, the border process on the Turkmen side went extremely smooth – until the final step… We waited and waited and nothing happened. Only afterwards, the tour guide told us that the color of our car (black), tinted windows and colorful stickers of our Tesla were too much for Turkmenistan. The border officials weren’t sure if it is allowed in the country (their president has a strong preference for white cars…). After many discussions, some official decided that the car should not enter Ashagabat, but would be allowed to transit Turkmenistan. In Ashgabat, everything is marble white, and so have to be the cars. It was probably the strangest city I have ever been to.

Ashgabat and a long drive to Mary

Our guide found a parking spot for the Tesla outside the city. We charged at a Schuko in a small car wash in that parking lot. Unfortunately, the tour operator arranged a price for the electricity that was way too high (electricity is in most occasions free of charge to the people in Turkmenistan; petrol only costs USD 0,30 and gas is free as well).

We spent two nights in Ashgabat in the most luxurious hotel of our journey. On our third day in Turkmenistan, we left Ashgabat and continued a long journey to Mary (380 km). Benedikt and I were a little worried about this leg of the trip, since it really depended on the weather conditions how easily we could make it (the distance was quite far). Luckily, there was almost no wind. We drove slowly (around 70 km/h) and sometimes behind trucks. With 24% left we reached Mary. Way more than expected!

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
Schuko 220 10 amperes 2 kW 35 kWh

Charging in Shirvan, Iran

Why we went to Shirvan

The city of Shirvan is only 60 km away from Bojnurd. We found in Shirvan a hotel that had good reviews and offered rooms for a fair price. Since we didn’t really like the hotel in Bojnurd, we didn’t mind moving on. We planned to spend two days in Shirvan only to relax and get the car and electronic equipment ready for the upcoming border crossings. We read online that border controls in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will be quite intense. Having a good structure in the car and knowing where what item is, seemed essential for us to cross somehow smoothly these borders.

The hotel in Shirvan

The hotel we stayed at was quite ok. We had a large room, didn’t get distracted and the owner/manager of the hotel was nice. He even spoke a bit of German. Besides the fact, that we felt as guests welcomed, the hotel was strange. On the first floor, there was a women and men reception hall for weddings. I couldn’t really figure out, if that is a thing here, to celebrate sex-separated weddings. It wouldn’t surprise me though. For the festivities, they had a large kitchen that was probably the most disgusting kitchen I saw so far. It was greasy, somehow dirty and smelled awfully. We saw the kitchen, since we used a socket in the kitchen to charge the car. The socket was only a normal Schuko, but since the car was still well charged it was enough to recharge. The next charging will be in Turkmenistan.

A surprise-visit from the local newspaper

As I mentioned above, we wanted to use our days in Shirvan only to relax and reorganize. On a day, where we didn’t really wanted to see anybody, the local newspaper appeared at the hotel in the evening. The reporter didn’t speak any English, but the hotel manager served as a translator. Every second question was on what we think about Iran and Iranians. We just said what the reporter wanted to hear. In the end, it was mainly the hotel manager and the reporter who talked to each other. I would be really curious what the content of that article will be.


Bye-bye Iran, welcome new adventurous

After 4 weeks in Iran, both, Benedikt and I, are really excited to move on. Iran was a major goal to reach and now the most challenging part of the journey starts. We don’t really know what to expect from the upcoming countries. But we are looking forward to drinking a cool beer in Ashgabat and to not having to wear hijab anymore. Let’s hope everything goes well, meaning we continue to find three-phase electricity and the quality of the roads stays decent.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
Schuko 220 10 amperes 2kW 15kWh

Charging in Meghri, Armenia


The road to Meghri from Kapan was one windy road up for about 1500 meters of elevation and the same down again. On the way down the hill, we could recuperate about 9kWh. Seeing the percentage sign of our battery going up and up, it almost felt like staying at a supercharger charger. The car was still/again at 80% charged when we arrived in Meghri. Charging at a Schuko would work out to have an almost fully charged car the next day.

A small Bed and Breakfast offered us a Schuko to charge the car (2 kW at 12 ampere). The people showed a great hospitality, even though, the breakfast was a lot better than the beds, blankets and cushions, that were still from Soviet times. Without much sleep, we left early in the morning to drive to the Armenian/Iranian border. I don’t like border days. The feeling to depend on the goodwill of random border controls, makes me anxious. I am also not very patient. Watching a person flip through my passport for more than 5 minutes seems to me just unnecessary.

Border Armenia/Iran

There were three control stations before we left Armenia. On the last control (baggage control), the guy checking our car, made himself the pleasure to drive a bit with the Tesla in the area before we left to nowhere land. We didn’t mind, but saying no, would also not have been a very relaxing option. Keeping the border controls entertained with fun and facts about the Tesla is still a good option to get them out of their routine (see also this post). That way, their mood is usually quite positive and that helps (until now) to pass borders without much hassle.

 On the Iranian side, Benedikt and I had to leave the car after a first check and go through immigration. Everyone gets asked what the name of their dad is, where one is born and what one is doing for work. I have no clue, what the board police man is using this information for…


Getting a car to Iran is quite an expensive joy. One can either organize a carnet de passage at home. The paid deposit should guarantee that one is leaving the country again. Since the deposit depends on the value of the car, the carnet de passage was not our preferred option. The other option to get a foreign car to Iran is that someone else in the country guarantees that one is leaving the country with the car again. In some forums, we heard about this guy named Hossein, who does a good job with this kind of service. We arranged to meet him after the passport control and he would do the import of the car to Iran for us. It took about 4 hours, till the whole process was over. A little exhausted (even though we had to do nothing than to wait), we entered Iran in the late afternoon. A 4-hour drive to Urmia, the city where Hossein is from, followed.


 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Schuko at Bed&Breakfast 220V 12 amperes 2kW about 17kWh

Charging in Jerevan, Armenia

Nici left early on Sunday morning after a fun evening with open-air cinema, film discussion and some drinks at Fabrica, a great place in Tbilisi. Benedikt and I charged the car one more time at the 22kW charging station in the city center of Tbilisi. The interest in the Tesla was very high this time. During the 20 minutes of charging the car, we were constantly surrounded by some men. If they weren’t looking at the different details of the car, they tried to buy our city scooter. We have two of those scooters with us. We want to use them for a fast and independent transportation in cities or during charging stops. So far, we didn’t use them a whole lot, because either the weather was too bad or the street quality too low. But this will change eventually, we believe 😉.


We escaped the crowed and left for the border between Georgia and Armenia. There was no line in front of the border, which was already a good sign. All in all, the border was easy. The only thing that took longer was to register the car to enter Armenia. We first didn’t know that we had to do this and as soon as we found out, the Swiss car documents (in German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic) didn’t make the filling out of the documents much faster.

What surprised us after the border crossing, were really bad maintained roads. The number of deep put-holes was extremely high. During the first third of the trip, from the border till Yerevan, our average speed was between 10 and 50 km/h. Luckily the road got better and better the closer we got to Yerevan.


In Yerevan, we could charge the car at a Schuko in the garage of a small hotel close to the city center. We planned to stay for two nights in Yerevan. Therefor charging with only 2kW was ok. After about 24 hours the battery of the car was charged at 85% again. By chance we found a supermarket including a big Armenian food-court on our way out of the city. The supermarket had a underground garage with many three-phase outlets`! Our Turkish adapter, worked with the outlets (which is kind of ironic, considering the relationship between Armenia and Turkey). We were very happy about this finding and charged the car with 11kW while we were having lunch in the food-court.

Yerevan isn’t a particular beautiful city or old city, since a lot of soviet architecture dominates the cityscape. Nevertheless, Benedikt and I were both inspired by the friendly and laid-back culture of the city. Compared to Tbilisi, Yerevan is less touristic, less crowded and somehow maybe even (mainstream) hipper.

Charging in Batumi & Kobuleti, Georgia

Border Turkey – Georgia

The border crossing from Turkey to Georgia took us more than 4 hours. The combination of many people wanting to cross this border and border controls working in a very average speed let to a long queue of cars (and a much longer one of trucks). This border was the first one, where only I, as the owner of the car, could stay in the Tesla. Benedikt and Nici had to take the pedestrian border crossing. The border controls were all, on the Turkish and on the Georgian side of the border, very curious about the Tesla. Some knew that it is electric, some just thought it looks fancy, but they all could be entertained with facts about the car. That way they got out of their usual border officer roll and were easy to deal with. We’ll see if that is also possible at other borders that will follow…


The city of Batumi is only about 30 minutes from the border. A gas station in the city was supposed to have a Type 2 charging station and we were keen to test it out. Unfortunately, something must have gone wrong with the set-up of this charging point. Our Tesla was recognizing voltage, but as soon as it wanted to only charge at one ampere, the charging process turned itself down before it even started.

Luckily, the car was still charged at about 65%. That meant for us that charging in Batumi would have been nice, but not necessary to continue our journey. In the afternoon, we went through the long process of purchasing a car liability insurance (covering damages of up to 5000€ – I don’t know if that is even helpful). Georgia is the first country that our Swiss car insurance is not covering. The feeling of not having the backup of an insurance company is something we need to get used to. Before we started our journey, Benedikt and I calculated risks forth and back to decide whether we should get an insurance that would at least cover Iran and Russia (no insurance would cover our entire trip). This type of insurance would have cost about 3000€ and the deterrent fee would have been another 3000€. Since this insurance isn’t even covering thievery, it would only pay off in the case of a total-loss accident. We think and hope this will not happen!


 After getting the insurance, we drove to Kobuleti, a town a little further down on the way towards Tbilisi. After a big 5-star hotel could not find one single three-phase outlet for us (they must have one somewhere), we ended up staying at a family hotel (a triple room and dinner for the three of us cost only about 30€). The Tesla charged over night with a Schuko (2 kW). The additional 25% in the battery were enough to make it easily the next day to Kutaisi and even further to Borjomi, where we were planning to go after a short visit to Kutaisi the next day.