Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Border crossing to Turkmenistan

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:45 PM
The morning was cool and the sky was clear. I was reluctant to leave Khiva. I wished we could spend more time in the walled city. As we dragged our luggage through the ancient streets once more, I looked at the monuments one last time. One last look at the city walls from outside the city and Khiva disappeared from the view.

Border crossing took the whole morning in the sun and heat. Last night we had to count our money and fill out the custom form again. For departure we needed to fill out only 1 form. We needed to make sure we declared less money than we did when we've entered the country. Leaving Uzbek passport control averaged about 10 min per person. That's fast for their record. Relatively hassle free. Then crossed over to no-man's land we had to wait and wait and wait for the Turkmen agent to put the visa on our passports. Soviet style of course. And today the embassy even waived our visa fee. So after 3 hours of waiting, we didnt have to pay the $69 to get in to Turkmenistan, and we got our Turkmen visa glued to our passport page and it was well worth the wait because the visa looked like a turkmen carpet!

After an hour of drive we arrived at the Kunya Urgench, capital of the once powerful Khorezm Kingdom in the 6th century, and explored the archaeological site. The monuments were scattered in a wide area and not impressive. The fading sunlight did not add color to the brown edifices. We dined at the UZBoy hotel and had vegetable soup that was thick and tasted like lentil. I much prefer the light broth with thin noodles. But the lentil soup was nevertheless quite good. just not what I would call veggie soup.

Later that evening, we boarded the Turkmenistan airlines and flew to Ashgabat. A short flight but I got the window seat and this rather big Turkmen who was stuck in the middle seat, took off his shoe and crossed his left leg and pointed his foot in my direction. Any minute I would tell him to put his shoe on back on except I was sure he didnt understand english.

The Grand Turkmen hotel (Four Seasons) was rather nice with a good souvenir shop, a business center that was locked and internet wasnt free, and a casino. But the bed was like a rock and the pillow flat as a sheet of paper. However, the room balcony offered a fine view of the city that had neon lights at night.

the kunya urgench

Kunya Urgench photos

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