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The 5 Stans of the Silk Road

RooFlyer

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No pics through the government precinct. :( First stop is the 'world's largest indoor ferris wheel'. Yep, go figure.

A few sights on the way ... Just consider that we see maybe a hundred or two of buildings like this, and its by no means the biggest or grandest.

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I think we visit this again today, with a stop.

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Goodness, whats this?

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Why, the world's biggest indoor ferris wheel, of course!!

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The ride, of about 10 mins was US$1. BTW, its forbidden to pay in any foreign currency. But the tour guide just quotes in it.

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Carrara marble, of course ...

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Views from the ride ... often obscured by the enclosing structure (which may have been the point of it? ;). Note the park, paths, lighting etc. We are on the edge of town, so only seeing appartments, although the buildings to the right are going to become a new 'ministry' precinct. And they can be photographed ... for now ...


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Those are not Stars of David, but the 'lucky' eight pointed Turkman star.

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RooFlyer

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Nearby, again, right on the edge of the city is a new 'ministry' precinct is being built.

The Foreign Ministry has a globe on its top

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The Education ministry is in the shape of a book ...

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I didn't catch what this one was ..

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I think this is an exhibition building ...

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The world's largest flag. 400kg weight, and there is a jet engine to pump air up the pole to keep the flag flying!! Today it was breezy, so its flying au naturale.

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tgh

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Doesn't make any sense, it seems the place is quite beautiful and they allow no pics.
Why ?
 

RooFlyer

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I just remembered to download the cs from my Sony camera, so a few addition shots of the day to date:

Olympic Stadium

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Another random marble and gold building

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Empty freeway on very long zoom

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New ministry precinct ... the book and the globe ...

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continuation of the above

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Another view from the Ferris Wheel

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Close-up of their flag. Five caret patterns. Carpets are big here.

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We visited a shopping centre. Very glitzy!!


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Now, almost my favorite. The current President trained as a dentist. So when he was in power, he had the Dental Hosp[ital built in the shape of a molar tooth!

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RooFlyer

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Doesn't make any sense, it seems the place is quite beautiful and they allow no pics.
Why ?
We keep asking the same question. Its such a shame. Photos can only show the country off in a very good light.

In the 'Russian Bazaar' - mainly an undercover fruit market, with spices and the whole bit. Really pretty and interesting, but again, no pictures. I even bought some dried fruit, in the hope that the stall holder would allow me a picture - no.

For government, while I'm here you'll have to speculate for yourself. - Saudi and Iran are the same, and I'm sure there are more.

In the market - possibly, we were told, because it was owned by an 'old school' soviet Russian plus, the social conservatism that you have here. BTW the 'Russian Bazaar' is a very old name, not re the current owner, although that may be applicable too ;)
 

RooFlyer

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We were supposed to go up a cable car ride to go up about 500m above the city, for sunset views. Unfortunately, all 3 roads up there were blocked by the police. We were told the President was commuting. He lives up in these same hills and commuted to work every day.

So, we headed up to the War and Earthquake memorial. And again, just WOW! Its huge, of course.

The entrance gives you a glimpse

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These panoramas give you some ides. Its 'in the round' with many different components. AND it used to be downtown, and they moved it wholus-bolus to this site!!

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We were really lucky that it was the 'changing of the guard. Photos of this are 'tolerated', if taken from a distance. My zoom was useful!

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RooFlyer

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There was a huge earthquake, in 1948, magnitude 7.3. It destroyed most of Ashgabat and killed between 10,000 and 100,000 fatalities. So they added an earthquake memorial to the War memorial.. You can imaging being straight after WW2 and under Soviet control, there was zero resources to rebuild.

Local legend is that the world is held up by a bull, and when the bull shakes, the earth quakes. Sitting on top of the world here is an infant President, re-born


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Daver6

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This place is fascinating. It appears there is a complete lack of people around too.
 

PineappleSkip

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Looks like a great trip. The only stans I've visited are Afghanistan (for several years) and Pakistan. If you really fancy crossing the border from Termez, Afghanistan doesn't do visas on arrival, although a tourist visa wasn't hard to procure from their embassy in Canberra for Mrs Pineapple for her one visit to Kabul.

Frankly I wouldn't bother, Hairatan is just a border crossing, and Mazar is a risky journey away for which a local fixer would be valuable. Security people usually recommend expensive stuff like armored vehicles and close-arm security, for which the standard budget is about USD 10,000 a day which gets you a nice armoured cruiser, driver and armed PPO. However I see the FCO have eased the risk level for Mazar itself from a few years ago - see Afghanistan travel advice. Oh and the official tourist spiel about Ballh province is here Balkh Province.

cheers skip
 

JohnM

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Well, I’m here now and it really is bizarre. A gigantic vanity project. :oops:
 

suze2000

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This is fascinating. The Silk Road hit my travel radar after seeing Joanna Lumley's Silk Road Journey last year.

Where are all the people these buildings are housing though? Are there underground tunnels or something? Is the country built on oil wealth and squandering it?
 

RooFlyer

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The lack of people is partly explained by then avoiding the heat of the day. But there is a LOT of free space.

Yes, all built in gas wealth. Whether it's squandered, I'll have to wait a few days ... 😊
 

RooFlyer

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After the war memorial, we went up to a small hill to view the city at sunset ...maybe better than the range behind the city, as winds had brought up a lot of dust and visibility had reduced a lot.

First, the sunset. In the first pic is the bus-stop, complete with air conditioning and TV!

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This is the hotel that's a rip-off of the Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai. It gets into the spirit of things by multi coloured light changes:

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This joint is the 'wedding palace' - basically the place for wedding receptions. Of course- what else could it be?

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RooFlyer

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A couple of panos:

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Thats a golf course in the foreground in the next pic. Water is used here as if its an infinite resource, in spite of it being nearly a 100% desert country. Water comves via a river from the Tajik mountains via Uzbekistan.

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As dusk approaches, the buildings light up, usually n multi-colour cycles. Ashgabat becomes Ash-vegas, as our guide described it.

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Sorry for the blurry pics - camera not quite up to it, but I'm including them to give you an idea.

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The horses head at the 'Olympic' stadium.

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The Ferris wheel

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RooFlyer

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Turkmenistan declared independence from the former USSR in 1991 and the then head of the Communist Party became President for Life. I encourage you to read more about the country here - its fascinating, and more than i can write here, if you know what I mean. He took the name 'Turkmenbashi' meaning 'father of the Turkmen'

In 1995 Turkmenistan declared itself internationally neutral - same status as Switzerland, and it was recognised by a vote of 150 countries in the United Nations that year. This is the monument to neutrality

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At the top is Turkmenbashi. When he was alive, it rotated; it stopped at his death in 2006. He died suddenly, from a heart attack, and his vice president took over,.

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Within a huge park, with as many fountains as Versailles ... and more ...

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This is the monument to Turkman independence:

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Turkmanbashi wrote his 'green book 'Ruhnama' - sorta the equivalent of Mao's little red book. It was compulsory reading and study in schools, was translated to every language on earth and a copy was shot into space via the Russians.

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