Blogs from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Asia


Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat October 1st 2019

I was told Turkmenistan is a totalitarian and isolated society second only to North Korea. Our first experience with it was a 4 hrs boarder crossing process from Uzbekistan - the longest of all the boarders we crossed. Our local guide Gozel was a retired University English Professor, very knowledgable and stood firm when Max (our Tour Leader) tried to talk down her. She won all the travelers respect right away. We stopped at Turabek Khanum Mausoleum, one of few mausoleums dedicated to a woman who was credited with bringing science to this region. We flew to the capital Ashgabat - the city was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1948 but rebuilt into a modern city with extensive white marble covered buildings. We stayed at a very fancy 5-star hotel with one indoor heated spa ... read more
Hotel lobby
What a luxiously heated spa pool
Bank of Ashgabat with a gold coin on top

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat March 21st 2019

Getting to Turkmenistan is not easy if one lives in the US. Nor is it guaranteed anyone will get a visa, but luckily, after several days of worrying, my passport arrived back, complete with the required visa. It took two full days to get to Turkmenistan, but I am glad I came. Flying from Boston to the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul only took nine and a half hours, but there I had a layover of almost six hours, a lengthy amount of time to have to spend in any airport. But to backtrack a bit, Bill drove me the two hours from our home to Portland, Maine, where we had a sumptuous and sustaining lunch together before heading off to the Concord Trailways bus station where one can take a bus directly to any terminal at ... read more

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat May 21st 2017

21.5.17 Asgabat zum Gaskrater Wir wurden ermuntert, nicht vor 14.00 abzufahren, weil am anderen Ende nur ein Zelt auf uns wartete, kein Wasser, kein Klo, keine Duschen. Um schon mal vorzugreifen: die Prinzessin kam an und weinte und wollte SOFORT heim. was sich in dieser Öde allerdings nicht machen ließ. Es war schon bei der Abfahrt heiß, wurde stetig heißer und dann war es nur noch eine Frage des MR, welche Temperatur erreicht wurde. Mir ging's da recht gut, denn Paulchen zeigte immer drei Grad weniger an, als andere MR. Folglich war mir auch nie so heiß, wie den anderen. Jedenfalls ging's bis 45 Grad..... Die Straße war schlecht, dann grauenhaft, tiefe Löcher mit scharfen Kanten. Ich fiel in eines hinein und Paulchen brach in der Mitte auseinander. Ende. Van of shame. Weitere Berichte folgen, weiß ... read more

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat May 20th 2017

Reine Wüste, manchmal eine oase, manchmal Bewässerung durch den Karakum Kanal, mit 1300 km der längste Bewässerungskanal der welt. Von den Russen gebaut, in denkbar schlechtem Zustand und Verursacher der Aral See - Katastrophe. Einfahrt in die stadt war leicht, endlich waren die straßen nicht mehr ganz leer. Das hotel ist diagonal gegenüber dem präsidenten palast - den darf man aber nicht fotografieren, wie zahlreiche andere Gebäude etc. auch. Der Russenmarkt ist verboten, Wachen vor irgendwelchen gebäuden, Moschee von innen... Sehr merkwürdig.... read more

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat May 20th 2017

Es ist schwierig, über die Stadt zu schreiben. Und momentan gibt´ auch keine Bilder, weil mein Handy nass geworden und tot ist. Ich hoffe, ich kann die Bilder nachreichen. Die Stadt hat einen Schachbrettgrundriss, sechsspurige Straßen, Über- und Unterführungen, auf größeren Kreuzungen ein monumentales Kunstwerk, im inneren Bereich sind alle Häuser mit weißem Marmor verkleidet. Alle Häuserblocks haben etwa die gleiche Höhe, aber nicht etwa mit dem Lineal gezogen, es gibt Terrassen die tiefer liegen, oder Türmchen auf dem Dach. Die Gebäude sind alle individuell gestaltet, aber alle weiß. Demnächst findet in Asgabat die asiatische Olympiade statt - riesige Digitaluhren zählen Tage, Stunden, Minuten und Sekunden bis zur Eröffnung, 120 Tage - dafür wurde ein Stadion gebaut und eine ganze olympische Stadt. Jeden Tag beginnen Frauen schon um 3.00 damit, die Straßen z... read more

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat October 5th 2016

Can you imagine Tiananmen Square in Beijing, or Red Square in Moscow, or Hyde Park in London, being totally devoid of any people in the middle of a bright and sunny day? Well that's what occurs in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. This is a 'model' city, full of beautiful parks, excellent roads and extensive squares - but there is rarely anybody to be seen in any of them! I'm not very good with my powers of description and Ashgabat needs an accurate description, which perhaps Lonely Planet does best. Take it away, LP: "With its lavish marble palaces, gleaming gold domes and vast expanses of manicured parkland, Ashgabat (‘the city of love’ in Arabic) has reinvented itself as a showcase city for the newly independent republic and is definitely one of Central Asia's – if ... read more
Niyazov's (non-rotating) statue atop Monument of Neutrality
If it's not white, it's green
Lone figure in huge square - click on pic and see if you can find the girl in red!

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat October 26th 2015

Our journey through Uzbekistan takes us to Bukhara and Khiva. Both were major stops on the Silk Road, built around oases. These UNESCO world heritage sites are packed with beautiful buildings. Bukhara is the larger, with many madresses built next to ponds. They must have been a welcome sight to incoming caravans. Khiva is smaller and still has its city wall and gates. Tall minarets tower over the little town, their tiled sides reflecting the winter sun. It is cool here, only getting to 14c at midday, but they tell us this is fine. Later in the winter it may drop to minus 30c or so! Entering Turkmenistan is slow but friendly. Getting the visa was a protracted process involving letters of invitation and passports flying from the UK to Turkmenistan and back. We do end ... read more
Doors of hell
Ashgabat Ministry of Weddings
Fat tailed sheep in the market

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat October 3rd 2014

Geo: 37.9502, 58.3802Originally developed by the Russians in the 19th century Ashqabat ('City of Love' in Arabic) is certainly the oddest city yet. It was completely demolished by an earthquake (9 on the Richter scale) on 6 October 1948 which also killed over a third of the population. A certain amount of rebuilding was done in the Soviet era but since independence in 1991 and the acquisition of huge wealth through gas (mostly) and oil and the influence of mad presidents the place has been completely transformed. Huge highways and boulevards lined with glistening white buildings - apartments, government ministries, some private companies - lots of Turkish construction companies. But no shops - they have all been put into centralized bazaars and shopping centres. Loads of monumental parks and buildings - the Constitution Monument, Independence Square, ... read more
The Wedding Hall - I kid you not
The indoor Ferris Wheel
Empty streets -white tower blocks

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat September 30th 2014

Sept 24 -26 Turkmenistan Early morning start from Nukus to the old cementry near the Turkmenistan border, the Mizdakhan cemetery. Inhabited from the 4th BC until 14th AD, Mizdakhan continued to be a sacred place with tombs being placed here until the 20thC. Was an interesting collection of tombs dating back to 10thC , and some pretty spooky mausoleums to explore, some underground and still containing their ancient sarcophagus's. We made the border crossing with no issues, other than the barking guard dogs, and the 1km walk in no-mans land between the two guard posts. Got our Turkmenistan visa on arrival - country no. 73 - so that was a relief after reading about all the potential dramas that can occur on this border. Our customs 'interrogation' was limited to "do you have guns? , and ... read more
Turabeg complex Konye Urgench
Wedding 'place' Ashgabat - biggest in the world
Independence statue Ashgabat

Asia » Turkmenistan » Ashgabat May 24th 2014

Ashgabat The drive from Turkmenbashi to Ashgabat was two hundred miles of really bad road, and one hundred sixty of pretty good road. The temperature was above 100 F most of the day. The country side looked more like the Mojave Desert than I could believe. It has the same hills and vegetation. I bottomed out the suspension a few times, scraped the center stand once, and shook the mirrors loose. The main attraction of Turkmenistan is the price of fuel, about 31 cents/liter ($1.20/gallon). We had to pay a foreigner fuel tax on entry, but it is still cheap. Getting yo our hotel was a real problem that started with the planned route blocked for construction, followed by a bunch of street closures because the president was on his way to his palace. Unfortunately. the ... read more

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