Kiosks for money change
Favorite thing: In former years you could change you money at the black market or at the bank with huge differences in the rates. It was not easy to change money at the bank, I heard. They were hardly open and your rate was really bad. So the only option was the black market with good rates. How easy it was to find someone I don't know.
Now the system has changed. At several places in town are kiosks where you can change money for a fixed rate. This rate is somewhere between the old bankrate and black market rate.
In Ashgabat I know anyway two kiosks downtown. One is at the entrance of the Russian Market and another is in the shoppingcentre opposite the Russian market at the groundfloor. Be prepared to get huge heaps of billets and be almost a 'manat' millionnair for some days.
Visa and other papers you get.
Favorite thing: For Turkmenistan you need a visa. Turkmenistan was part of my Silk Road trip visiting 5 different countries. Because of the time needed to get all the visa in advance and the extremily long time it took the get the Turkmen visa, the travelagant decided to get it first at the airport of Ashgabat. The costs were 95 euro (july 2008).
It took some time. Except the visa in our pasport we got some more doucments like an entry travel pass (see picture 1 and 3) with three pieces. The first one they kept after we had to leave our passport at the hotel reception for registration. The other two parts they first took when we crossed the border to Uzbekistan. Anyway at the homestay in the desert and in the nighttrain they didn't ask for the papers.
We also got a 'departure sheet of the foreigner' (see picture 1 and 2). This one we had to keep till we left the country. The same with the declaration form.
Saparmurat Niyazov -President
Favorite thing: Saparmurat Niyazov was born on February 19, 1940, into a worker's family in Ashgabat. His father died in battle in World War II and the remaining members of his family perished in Ashgabat’s massive earthquake of 1948. He was raised first in an orphanage and later in the home of his distant relatives.
Mr. Niyazov graduated from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1966 with a degree in power engineering and began work at the Bezmeinskaya Power Station near Ashgabat.
In 1962 Mr. Niyazov became a member of the Communist Party. In 1985 he was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Turkmenistan and was subsequently elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan, the highest state and party post. On January 13, 1990, Mr. Niyazov became Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, the supreme legislative body in the republic.
On October 27, 1990, Mr. Niyazov was elected the first president of the
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. Under his leadership, on October 27,
1991, Turkmenistan proclaimed its sovereignty from the Soviet Union. In a second presidential election held on June 21, 1991, which was necessitated by the adoption of the new constitution, Mr. Niyazov was elected President of the Republic of Turkmenistan. Mr. Niyazov is also Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan.
Mr. Niyazov's success as President of Turkmenistan has been attributed to his extensive and productive work in stabilizing the economic situation of the country. He has established Turkmenistan's international prestige and has displayed concern for the people's well-being. Following his election, one of the first resolutions to be adopted was a decree on the free use of water, gas and electricity by the people of Turkmenistan.
As founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World, Mr. Niyazov holds the official title of Turkmenbashi, Leader of all Ethnic Turkmens.
Fondest memory: Mr. Niyazov was awarded the Magtymguly International Prize for
achieving the aim of Magtymguly, the great Turkmen poet and philosopher: the establishment of an independent state of Turkmenistan.
Mr. Niyazov is married and has two children. He is interested in poetry,
philosophy, history and music
The Arch of Neutrality
Favorite thing: This monument has become an urban symbol which serves as a powerful reference point in the city. The inspiration for the Arch ofNeutrality was the traditional Turkmen trivet - a stable tripod, used for holding a boiler, under which a fire is kind-led. In the project the trivet was transformed into three widely curved pylons connected by disks and rings of different diameters and thickness. These are the viewing sites, located on different levels, where a perfect panorama of Ashgabat opens up. Visitors are transported to the first level by funiculars. There, at a height of 21.5 m there is a circular cafe-bar with a panoramic view. The transparent lift takes visitors to 50 meters, where the upper viewing platform is situated. At 63 meters, there is a 12 m sculpture of Saparmurat Turkmenbasi on a background of a fluttering flag. This part of the monument rotates slowly. The Arch of Neutrality reaches a total of 75 meters, making it the highest construction in Turkmenistan, above the 600 year old Kutlug Timur minaret. The Arch of Neutrality is decorated with white marble, with bronze relief compositions from Turkmen history on the sides of Pylons. Vertical sections of the pylons between the upper and lower survey sites are combined with five identical bronze rings, each featuring relief lattices with images of ghels-basic carpet elements from the various Turkmen tribes. It should be mentioned that the Arch of Neutrality is an excellent example of so called light architecture.
Favorite thing: The Yomut carpet is a type of carpet traditionally handwoven by the Yomut, one of the major tribes of Turkmenistan. A Yomut design, along with designs of the four other major tribes, is featured on the coat of arms and the flag of Turkmenistan.
Favorite thing: (I didn't know where else to put this...sorry!)
Internet cafes don't really exist in Ashgabat. You could try asking around, or check in some of the games clubs then ask the staff quietly if they have access.
Alternatively, if you must get online, go to the Sheraton where they will charge non-guests the equivalent of about $5 per hour. If you do happen to luck out and get some 'grey market' or 'black market' internet (i.e. anywhere other than an expensive hotel), be careful with what you say to friends -- err on the side of caution in order to avoid getting people who help you out into trouble.
Water Fountains Everywhere !
Favorite thing: In the newly constructed area of Ashgabat, you will see a large number of water fountains. It is a very nice scene and really amazing !
The City of White Marble !
Favorite thing: In the newly constructed area of Ashgabat, you will notice that all the buildings are covered with white marble. Most of them (if not all) are governmental buildings.
Favorite thing: Golden statue of the Turkmen President, Turkmenbashi, under guard at a new fountain & monument complex.
ElenaP's General Tip
Fondest memory: Part of the memorial ensemble and the monument to Turkmen soldiers who fell in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
Strange Wool Hat
Favorite thing: You will notice that some people on the streets are wearing a large wool hat. You can buy one as a souvenir.
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