Reflections: Expectations and Delivery in Turkmenistan

While planning our itinerary through Central Asia last May, we dismissed Turkmenistan mainly due to Audrey's impressions of the place. She envisioned a dark, totalitarian state where people mysteriously die in jail. The outlandish whimsical declarations of its leader, Turkmenbashi, would be humorous if they didn’t encase the six million people living there in a … [Read more...]

Reflections: Crossing the Caspian Sea

Your trip across the Caspian may provide some of the scariest and most fulfilling moments of your entire journey. -- A veteran journalist we met in Tbilisi, Georgia who had seen it all in the former Soviet Union.Although we are posting this from Pingyao, China, we dial back a few clicks to the beginning of our journey in Central Asia in an attempt to adequately … [Read more...]

Ashgabat, The City of Love: A Scavenger Hunt

Five Legs in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat has been adorned by many beautiful buildings, which made unique architectural ensemble. – A quote on the reverse side of an “official” postcard of the main drama theater named after Turkmenbashi.One part Las Vegas, another part Pyong Yang, Ashgabat springs up out of the middle of nowhere in the Turkmen desert. You wonder how and you wonder why. … [Read more...]

No Beards, No Spandex: Rules to Live By?

Smiling Leader

No less idiosyncratic than its architecture, Turkmenistan's laws are the stuff of laughter and legend. Though locals may plead ignorance or flat out deny that some of these laws ever existed, here's what we discovered about some of the more notable whacky entries conjured up by the former president, Sapmurat Niyazov (otherwise known as Turkmenbashi, Leader of all … [Read more...]