Day 46 - Wed 30 Apr 08
Today was not an event filled day - up for breakfast in the huge dining room all decked out for a wedding. My first attempt at getting something to eat was unsuccessful as the four people in there aren't really interested. I head down to reception and pointed back into the 'wedding room'. This time I have more success, but I wish I hadn't bothered as the food is poor.
Out on the streets and I try to find a bank that might change some travellers cheques (this will be my last chance before I head into Iran where there is NO chance of changing TC's). I arrive at the bank before they are open at 09:15. The good news is that they will change the TC's into US$. Result. I hand over $100 and after a lot of form filling and moving between different counters I get $97 in cash.
I catch another 'street taxi' up to the shopping centre, it has the tallest fountains in the world (or some such rot) but as far as I could see no useful shops. I then walk up to the Independence Monument which looks just like a plunger. I get close but there seems to be a lot of renovation taking place around it, so I give up and take another 'taxi' down to the supermarket I visited yesterday. Get some more provisions and head back to the hotel to avoid the heat of the day.
Out again at dusk and walk up to the Arch of Neutrality, it is lit with many different lights that change colour. I get stopped by a plain clothes police man, who had a look in my bag, and at my passport and then seemed to loose interest.
Cars here are mainly Lada's Opal's and BMW's with the odd Toyota, and everyone seems to like to screech their wheels!
Walked past the US embassy, and they seem to take security very seriously. Big fence, and popup barrier at the gate, and even a US bloke patrolling the grounds. The UK embassy has a different approach, it appears to be housed in a hotel...
The only other observation about Ashgabat is the street names. They have been replaced with numbers. The US embassy is on '1984' street.