A rather, ah…, intriguing city.
I’m not going to upload any photos, or any (too) controversial opinions/comments (as if I had any) – as internet access is very limited, and monitored.
Just generally – bizarre. Much, MUCH, white marble everywhere… 4.5 million square metres of it, I believe – with 543 buildings covered in it? And if a building isn’t covered in marble… it’s faux-marble.
95% of the cars, buses, taxis, vans, trucks – all white. The other 5%… experimenting with silver, light shades of brown… and I believe I counted two taxis gone full-rebellious yellow.
I went for a very very long walk to check out a couple of the larger monuments alone… discovering a few random things on the way. But in my full 6 hours of walking, including visiting at least 4 sites which would be considered major “tourist attractions” anywhere else… could not find a single place to buy food or water. I get the impression that everything about this city is designed to look good .. and it seems just for the locals… foreign opinion be damned (and local living standards be damned).
Really hard to describe… I’d heard about a lot of this before I got here, but never really believed the scope of it would be so… utter fucking crazy.

Anyway – tomorrow evening we’re going to be “camping”, so at least one day of not being able to update… and at least another 3 days of not being allowed access to facebook or “The Fern” (strangely – NZ sports forum TheSilverFern is blocked here, along with the other ‘social media’ giants). So – next update is likely to be from either just before, or just after, crossing into Uzbekistan.

Just a random building in Ashgabat
Just a random mini shopping mall in the middle of a park in Ashgabat
Just a random view of a small part of Ashgabat, including the spectacularly random Stadium complete with giant Horse-Head
Just a random Giant Book
Independence Monument… there was a whole hell of a lot more to this than a single photo can give justice to
Monument of Neutrality… this used to sit in the middle of town, and the golden ex-President on top would rotate to always face the sun during daytime. New president thought it a little gaudy (and more impressive than his palace) so moved it out into the suburbs. Ex-President no longer rotates.

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