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Published: September 4th 2010
Ashgabat is like a city we’ve never seen before. It is so unique, so strange, can’t even really describe it. It was flattened during an earthquake in the 1940’s/1950’s. It has more or less been completely rebuilt during the Turkmenbashi days since their independance from the Soviet Union. It has streets with giant city blocks of beautiful brand new white marble buildings/hotels that are generally empty inside. Ashgabat doesn’t have a “downtown/city center” area like most cities in the world. Lots of streets with many large water fountains and statues of either the new President or the late Turkmenbashi (who look incredibly alike). Obviously they are not too concerned about any sort of water shortage. There is an 11pm curfew here, and we have to be very careful about what we were taking photos of (i.e. Government buildings, etc.).
We took a private taxi out to the Sunday market early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. The market has lots of different items for sale, from carpets, fruit & veg, music to goats, cows, and camels. The animal market was one of the most impressive ones we've ever seen. So many camels in one place. A
good sized camel will set you back approximately $700, in case anybody is interested. We had lots of fun watching camels get loaded into transport trucks with a crane. A good couple hours entertainment at least. It's amazing how many camels can fit into the back of a truck.
On another note, it's quite common here for people to offer melons as gifts. We received a melon from our taxi driver that was way more than two people could eat. We held onto it for a couple of days and gave it to a truck driver who seemed very pleased with it.
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