Back in Baku

Baku, Azerbaijan August 18, 2019 Tourism in Baku seemed to have taken off in tremendous leaps since I was here just a year ago. Icherisheher or the old city is besieged with tourists, both individual as well as large tour groups armed with selfie sticks. The pedestrianized area with its glitzy shops, see a constant … More Back in Baku

A Gilded Cage

Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan August 9, 2019 Getting off the train in Turkmenbashi at 9:30 am, I headed to the port straight away after stocking up on food and water. Who knew? Maybe a cargo ship would leave for Baku today. In the gleaming new building – white of course, with the requisite gold trim – I … More A Gilded Cage

Riding the Rails

Turkmenabat to Mary August 5, 2019 Surprisingly painless to buy a train ticket, I wondered at the lack of rudeness on the part of the ticket agent. They must have not got the memo that all ticket agents in ex-Soviet countries received. The lack of internet and wifi to blame perhaps? Waiting in the cavernous … More Riding the Rails

In a Bizarre World

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan August 7, 2019 Smack in the middle of a scorching desert is Ashgabat but you would never guess it from the number of parks and flowering shrubs that line medians and border parks. Fountains spout at corners of wide boulevards, each more bizarre in design than the last. One can only wonder at … More In a Bizarre World

Fabled Margiana

Merv, Turkmenistan August 6, 2019 The Greeks called it Margiana. Some called it Margush. Located squarely on the trade route between Asia and Europe, at the western terminus of Transoxiana, it was once called Marv-i-Shah-Jahan, or Merv, Queen of the World. The changing course of Amu Darya had over the centuries, caused settlements to shift … More Fabled Margiana

This is Your Lunch

Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan August 5, 2019 I needed manats, and knowing to steer clear of the banks, headed straight to the bazar. Thanks to the huge discrepancy between official and unofficial rates, Turkmenistan like Uzbekistan before, has a thriving black market. But word is, undercover police are plentiful and discovering the result of breaking laws in … More This is Your Lunch