Ashgabat was the capitol of the Palin Dynasty around year 0 and was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1948. Since the Soviet left and Turkmenistan got their independence in 1991 the city was completely rebuilt and is until today officialy the weirdest city I have ever visited.
We traveled from Turkmenabat through the whole country which was pretty much only sand, desert and a few oil pumping stations. When we arrived Asgabat it was clear where all the oil money had gone. The city was like the city I created when playing Sim City with cheats. They had built a ministry of education looking like a book, some buildings looking like those of other countries but just bigger, it was the city in the world with the most white marble, the biggest flag, the biggest carpet, the biggest indoor ferris wheel and probably the city with the most fountains and statues of the dictator who ruled until 2007, Saparmyrat Niyazov who called himself “Turkmenbashi” meaning the father of Turkmen.
Turkmenbashi was also the name that he used for the bigger harbour city, for an airport, for a mosque, for a vodkabrand and as the word for Monday. The other days of the week he called after his mother, friends and so on. Turkmenbashi, the first president to rule in Turkmenistan definately made Ashgabat what it is today. The coolest, weirdest, whitest, most empty feeling city it is today. It is like a mix of Las Vegas with any North Korean town, or like the capitol in District One of the Hunger Games. Ashgabat means the city of love, and it is easily a city to love if you are there for just a few days.
We visited the remainings of the Nusa castle, the huge Toulkuchka Bazaar, the top of the Independence tower and . We had also planned a 200$ pp camping trip to the gate to Hell in Dharvaza which was cancelled last minute, but will have to be saved for the next time I visit this crazy country.