The last of the Stans on our trip was Turkmenistan. Before we set off we hadn’t really been aware that Turkmenistan is ruled by one of the toughest dictators in the world. All we knew was that we would get a five day transit visa only. Arriving at the border we were again reminded that we were only allowed to cross the country on a fixed route and we had to tell them where we would sleep, we also got a GPS tracker and the car was thoroughly searched.
We entered the country with mixed feelings, but then were positively surprised by the friendliness and curiousness of the people in Koyne Urgench, the first town after the border.
On day two we reached the gascrater on some of the worst roads we had travelled and couldn’t get enough of that burning hole in the middle of the desert.
Day three brought us to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Most of Ashgabat is pure craziness. There are governmental palaces, universities, ministries, memorials of huge dimensions and other monumental buildings all built from white marble and surrounded by parks and waterfountains and brandnew roads. And there is no one, except for legions of gardeners and road cleaners (by hand with a simple brush), and policemen at every junction.
We left Ashgabat with an awkward feeling and were looking forward to Iran, a completely different country altogether.