I was given a four-day transit visa by Turkmenistan immigration so I had to leave on time or risk deportation (probably, maybe).After my overnight stay in the Darvaza Gas Crater, fittingly dubbed the Door to Hell by people for its creepy but romantic (a combination that doesn’t work for people) ambience at night then a mid-morning stroll looking at the ruins of Konye-Urgench, I opted to cross the border to Uzbekistan from Konye-Urgench instead of from Dashoguz. I was worried that I won’t have enough time to get out of Turkmenistan if I travel from Konye-Urgench to Dashoguz, which Sergey
This article was first published in my travel blog, Erudite Traveller, in 2017. While doing my research for the Turkmenistan leg of my Silk Road trip, I stumbled upon the existence of the Akhal Teke horse. The Akhal Teke – also called Golden Horses and Celestial Horses – belong to the world’s most ancient existing horse breed. For 3,000 years the Teke tribe living in Turkmenistan’s Akhal region selectively bred these horses, keeping the horses’ ancestry by oral tradition. Sun touching the Akhal Teke’s coat. Image from Wikipedia taken by a much better photographer than me. Akhal Teke horses are
About 30 minutes away from Ashgabat is the ancient Parthian citadel in Old Nisa dating back to 250 BCE at the time of Arsaces I, founder of the empire. A man so manly that all Parthian emperors hence were officially named after him. The root word of his name meant, obviously, manly. The remains of Nisa, called Parthaunisa or Nisae depending on which old historian you read, traverses the modern-day villages of Old and New Nisa, separated by Bagir village. Ancient fortresses and various ruins dating back to the Parthians can still be found reasonably preserved in these two villages.
After my short visit to Ancient Merv, I had a simple dinner at the canteen beside Mary’s train station to wait for my 11 pm overnight train to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital 360 kilometers to the west. I asked Sergey*, my tour guide, to book the train tickets instead of driving to the capital since I wanted to experience traveling in Turkmenistan using public transportation but also wary of riding the marshutka as I don’t speak the local language. Name changed for security reasons. The train compartment had 2 bunk beds. Naturally, I took one of the top bunks even before the
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