New Year Celebrations
We visited Ashgabat in late December, and since Turkmenistan is a predominantly Muslim country, were rather surprised at the number of Christmas trees we saw lining the streets on the way from the airport to our hotel. We later learned that these were in fact New Year trees, as New Year is a major holiday in Turkmenistan.
All the public buildings and quite a few monuments seemed to have a gigantic Christmas tree, adorned with lights and other decoration outside. The local TV channels also showed what seemed to be almost non-stop footage of smiling children dancing round these trees, accompanied by either St Nicholas or the President.
In the markets we saw lots of New Year gift baskets of fruit, chocolate and other goodies for sale, as well as Santa hats!
- Arts and Culture
Piling up, higher and higher...
In the Russian Market I saw several stalls with all kind of food and goods piled up. Sometimes the piles of cans were so high that you couldn't see the vendor till they peep up behind the cans (picture 1 and 2).
I always enjoy at markets how the vendors show their goods and the way they pile it up or make nice heaps, like the cookies (picture 3) and the dried fruits (picture 4 and 5). The vendors were very friendly people and liked your interest and to be photgraphed.
The Akhal-Teke, 'Ahalteke' in turkmen language, horse breed from Turkmenistan, where they are the national emblem. It is named after the nomadic tribe that bred them. They are racehorses, noted for their endurance on long marches and are thought to be the predecessors of the Arabian and English thoroughbred breeds. These beautiful "golden-horses' are adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest surviving breeds. There are currently about 3,500 Akhal-Tekes in the world, mostly in Turkmenistan and Russia.
The exportation of this valuable horse is forbidden and need special aprrouval for exporting.
In my country there is a special stable for this Horse and I ve had the chance to ride this incredible horse...
Do not point or use the word 'Turkmenbashi'
Never point at anything as it will alert others that you are talking about it and make the police suspicious. This is especially true if you have the good fortune of being able to talk with Turkmen people -- you can leave the country but they might get in trouble.
Also, never use the word 'Turkmenbashi' or 'Niyazov'. Again, this is particularly true if you are talking with local people. If they bring the subject of politics up, refer to Turkmenbashi as the 'ruler' or something that will not be as easily recognizable.
The people seem to see the whole cult of personality as a big joke but they have to live in the joke so above all be very careful not to get any Turkmen people who risk talking to you into trouble by talking carelessly.
Remove Your Shoes
When you enter someone's house, do remove your shoes and then enter the drawing room.
Whenever you are offered tea or some snacks do not refuse as it is considered to be an insult.
The local people generally sit on a carpet while having tea or food.
The people in Ashgabat are...
The people in Ashgabat are very friendly.
There are many nationalities living in this city and they are always ready to help if you ask them something. Often they wear national clothes and they are very interesting for every foreigner.
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