Day 45 - Tue 29 Apr 08
Had breakfast in my room, they delivered it last night and put it in the fridge. We headed off just after 08:00. Didn't get much sleep last night, the room was so hot, but the air con was so noisy I decided to open the window but that let the mosquitoes in.
The landscape is flat, but at least we've left the desert behind and it's more agricultural here with cotton and some olive trees. Drove for a good few hours before we got to our first stop, the site of an ancient silk route city now in ruins. There are loads of pottery fragments just lying around. It's still very hot, but I'm not sweating quite as much as I was yesterday.
Back in the car for another hour or so and find the ruins of Madrasa facade, rather like the ones in Bukhra. This one used to have two dragons on the front but it was destroyed in the 1948 earthquake. The stubs of the arch is there, but the dragons are long gone. Push on again into Ashgabat, and I have a choice of hotels. I went for the one in the centre of the city. Downstairs is presentable, but the rooms are rather basic. The bathroom has a toilet and a small square shower/bath but no hand basin. It does have AC, a TV and fridge.
My guide has left me to my own devices, so I head out in the afternoon to find a supermarket - blimey it's still hot. Walked for ages and found the supermarket, got my usual provisions and then took an unofficial taxi back to the hotel. Chilled out (with the AC) before heading out again at sunset.
Tried to find some Internet but the only place offering it was a top end hotel who wanted $10 a hour! No thanks! Headed up to the Arch of Neutrality and paid 3000m to go up it for some good views over the city.
I was expecting a more extravagant capital, but in fact it's rather reserved and elegant a bit samesy, but nothing really brash.
The hotel has little women on each floor. 'Floor keepers' to ensure that the residents don't get up to any naughtiness. Last time I saw that was in Moscow back in 1996.