WEIRD MODERN ASHGABAT

LUNCH STOP After the hellish border crossing experience we drove almost all day then finally getting to our bush camp near the Kow Ata underground thermal pools. i noticed there are many checkpoints everywhere we got stopped so many times I lost count, when we stopped at a market to shop for dinner, I was surprised to find out there are pork sashylik here, and our guide Ata said they are not really strict here, they are a secular country. It was very windy at the camp and took lots of effort to set up our tents. The next morning we went to the KOW- ATA underground thermal pools, it wasn’t really super but a nice experience nevertheless, and we were befriended by a lot of locals and one even warned us not to go so far away from the mouth of the cave as somemone, a soldier i think died there probably drowned and never found, still did not stop the stronger swimmers in our group. When we finished, the locals entertained us with their curiosity and willingness to pose for photo, and giggles from everyone as we show them their image on the screen, we made lots of friends and KOW ATA BUSH CAMPwe so then we set off to the capital Ashgabat, quite a weird place, very modern with really gorgeous architecture some funky bordering odd others really breathtaking, we had a day tour of the city and to honestly can’t remember all the places weve been to so i will just let the photos speak for itself, our guide said that water, electricity and gas is free for the people here.The hotel Nissa is where we stayed and it was really nice, with a pool and restaurant and bar and disco with lots of Natashas i will spare you the details about our Natasha encounters, no one as far as i know used their services. We also say goodbye to Andy and Jess here and more people joined in, the truck will be crowded but also nice to see and talk to new people, hopefully we all get along. On Sunday morning we headed off to the crazy Tolcuchka Bazaar where you can buy everything and anything including the flying camels! I believe it is the biggest market in Central Asia.Had a look at lots of carpets and eventually bought one for my sister hopefully she likes the design. They are KOW ATA BUSH CAMPall beautiful but taking them with you so early on the trip is such a hassle. That was that for the bazaar, it was a fun time for us all then time to move on.

TURKMENISTAN:

Turkmenistan (also known as Turkmenia) is a country in Central Asia. The name Turkmenistan is derived from Persian, meaning “land of the Turkmen”. Until 1991 it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the southwest, Uzbekistan to the northeast, Kazakhstan to the northwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Eighty-seven percent of the population is Muslim. According to CIA World Factbook 2006 figures, Turkmenistan ranks 5th on the world according to GDP growth rate. Although it is wealthy in natural resources in certain areas, most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sands) Desert. It has a single-party system and was ruled by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov until 21 December 2006, when he died of cardiac arrest. Presidential elections were held on 11 February 2007. Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow was declared the winner with 89% of the vote. He was sworn in on KOW ATA BUSH CAMP14 February 2007.
President Niyazov spent much of the country’s revenue on extensively renovating cities, Ashgabat in particular. Corruption watchdogs voiced particular concern over the management of Turkmenistan’s currency reserves, most of which are held in off-budget funds such as the Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund in the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, according to a report released in April 2006 by London-based non-governmental organization Global Witness. According to the decree of the Peoples’ Council of 14 August 2003, electricity, natural gas, water and iodised salt will be provided free of charge to citizens up to 2030; however, shortages are frequent. On September 5, 2006, after Turkmenistan threatened to cut off supplies, Russia agreed to raise the price it pays for Turkmen natural gas from $65 to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. Two-thirds of Turkmen gas goes through the Russian state-owned Gazprom.

At 188,457 mi² (488,100 km²), Turkmenistan is the world’s 52nd-largest country. It is comparable in size to Cameroon, and somewhat larger than the US state of California.

Over 80%!o(MISSING)f the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression and the Karakum Desert. The Kopet Dag Range, along KOW ATA UNDERGROUND LAKEthe southwestern border, reaches 2,912 meters (9,553 ft). The Turkmen Balkan Mountains in the far west and the Kugitang Range in the far east are the only other significant elevations. Rivers include the Amu Darya, the Murghab, and the Hari Rud.

The climate mostly consists of an arid subtropical desert, with little rainfall. Winters are mild and dry, with most precipitation falling between January and May. The area of the country with the heaviest precipitation is the Kopet Dag range.

The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea is 1768 km long. The Caspian Sea is entirely landlocked, with no access to the ocean.

The major cities include Ashgabat, Türkmenbaşy (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Daşoguz.

ASHGABAT:
(Aşgabat in Turkmen) is the capital city of Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. It has a population of 695,300 (2001 census estimate) and is situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range. Ashgabat has a primarily Turkmen population, with minorities of ethnic Russians, Armenians, and Azeris.

Museums include the Turkmen Fine Arts Museum, noted for its impressive collection of woven carpets, and the Turkmen History Museum which has artifacts dating back to the Parthian KOW ATA UNDERGROUND LAKEcivilisation. The Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan is an important institute of higher learning. Large mosques include the Azadi Mosque (which resembles the Blue Mosque in Istanbul), the Khezrety Omar Mosque, and the futuristic Iranian Mosque. Ashgabat is also home to the Arch of Neutrality, which is a large tripod on which there is a golden statue of former President Saparmurat Niyazov (also known and generally referred to as Turkmenbashi, or leader of the Turkmens). This statue rotates in order to always face the sun during daylight hours. It is said to be made of pure gold.

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