Central Asia Travel Diary

Today was another fairly relaxing day, the main aim being simply to travel the 150 kilometres from Chandybil back to Ashgabat.  Apart from the police check points (of which there were many, and slow) and a petrol purchase, we made just one stop on the way, this being at an abandoned village called Murche.

This village had a long history, as shown by the traditional adobe mosque and house that we visited, both reconstructed in the 1990s by a Russian archeologist.  Although most of the village lay in ruins, the buildings were mainly mud brick dwellings abandoned in the 1950s when Soviet authorities forced resettlement to a new Murche on the other side of the highway.

Having left Chandybil at 10 am, we reached Ashgabat at a little after 2pm.  Following a quick stop at a market to change money and buy some drinks, we checked into our hotel at about 2:30 pm (the Hotel Aziya once again, and the same room [103] as our last time in Ashgabat – but then again, there weren't all that many rooms in the hotel!).

After refreshing ourselves with some much-needed cool drinks – it was much hotter down on the plains than up in the mountains – David joined us and we took the 40 minute walk to the nearest restaurant that was outside our hotel, a restaurant situated on the top floor of a pyramid-shaped building in Independence Park,  We enjoyed a combined lunch/dinner of lentil soup followed by a chicken and cheese crepe, accompanied by cold Sprite and delicious soft bread while enjoying the view to the south across Independence park.

Having finished dinner at about 6:15 pm, Andy and I headed back through Independence Park to stumble across a huge open-air harvest festival celebration with traditional dancing, music, singing and displays, almost all of which were explicitly devoted to the President.  This was an unexpected bonus for us as we joined the local population to enjoy the show.

Sunday 16 July 2006

Nokhur to Ashgabat

Ruins of Murche
Dancing at the harvest festival