Central Asia - Turkmenistan - Koneurgench

Koneurgench - Najm ad-Din al-Kubra Mausoleum. Photo: Jane

After visitng the modern pristine city of Ashgabat, it was such a contrast arriving in Dashoguz - we were back in soviet style territory, passing under the gate to the city, with more posters of the President, once again we stayed at a Russian hotel with large rooms.

We spent our final day in Turkmenistan on a 3 hour return trip to Koneurgench, on a somewhat bumpy road. On the way old beaten up Lada’s, farmers travelling on their pushbikes, locals waiting to hitch a ride.

Top: Dashoguz - a post of the current president, the city gates, another huge hotel room; Centre: Koneurgench; Bottom: street scenes. Photos: Jane

Koneurgench was the capital of the region in the 10th and 11th centuries - a center of Islamic culture and an important stop on the famous Silk Road - now another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was Sunday and many locals were also visiting the area, praying among the sacred sights, which included the usual mausoleums and one of the tallest minarets in Central Asia.

By this stage of the tour the amount of detail provided by our wonderful guides had started to take its toll - I was in information overload!

The locals were intrigued by us, wanting to know where we were from, laughing as we tried to communicate, lining up for group photos. Bava, our guide, did his best, but the locals won out - this was a lot more fun!

Various monuments at Koneurgench; devotees circle the minaret, Locals keen on photos with us. Photos: Jane

We travelled back to Dashoguz, and after fond farewells it was time to cross the border back into Uzbekistan. We were sorry to say goodbye to Bava, he’d really looked after us well. Thankfully this border crossing was straight forward, I guess its always easier to leave a country than to arrive.

Turkmenistan was a fascinating and intriguing country to visit - a joy to chat to the locals when we could, so much history, so many contrasts, quirks and weirdness - I am keen to know more as its one of the few places where I’ve come away with more questions than answers.

We were happy to see Gulya again, she was like a mother hen gathering up her chicks as we prepared to visit our final Stan - Tajikistan. This post coming soon.