Las Vegas AKA Ashgabat

From muddy and dusty streets and adobe houses in the East of Iran we come over the mountains to what appears to be an American dream town Ashgabat in the desert. We are in shock as we didn’t expect such opulence and ostentatious wealth even though we had read of the oil and gas that Turkmenistan has in the Caspian region. The prearranged hotel is wow after the plumbing and other things we had previously been subjected to.

It had been another big day with a 5 hour border crossing but we had nothing but praise for the Turkmenistan long but orderly processes. All the desks and offices were within walking distance and it was no doubt helped by the lack of traffic. The town before the border a group of young men had told us that there had been some tourists last year and that everyone in town was really delighted we had come.

Back to Ashgabat, we just seem to attract guards and military intervention and have already had to explain to lots of uniformed men why we are taking photos. We are just drinking in the colour of the woman’s clothes and the boys seeing fashion and flesh as if for the first time.

We are off to the desert tomorrow and have a support vehicle and guide (compulsory here) who willl carry the water and fuel. 70 liters will cost us less than NZ $2, yes two bucks. Water is a lot more expensive here.

Camping with the desert nomads will be a blast and we have been warned to watch for scorpions in our boots. Already thought I’d seen a land mine only to find the turtle unfurled once the bike was turned off.

Wishing I had space for extra luggage as the clothes here are to die for. I’m going to get a big shaggy Turkmen hat for my local disguise.

Must away as I have now caught Bryan’s sneezy cold and will pop back to the hotel for a turkish steam bath and a swim in the pool to help. Might even get the boys a massage with Helga, the masseuse.

Love to all

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