One things that occurred to me walking through the park across from my hotel a little later was every statue in the park, and indeed every historical figure on Turkmen money sported a substantial headdress and a bushy beard. Until Turkmenbashi. Now also the current president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is clean shaven and bare-headed. Perhaps the heat-trap of marble and gold that is modern Ashgabat makes beards a less attractive proposition than it used to be.
The modern state of Turkmenistan seems a million miles away from the world of the ferocious Turkmen warriors that terrorised many a Russian or British traveller. Did the Soviet occupation break these fearsome people, or the strict discipline and sometimes bizarre rules of their eccentric “father”? The apparent docility of the people made me think of something Jenia said to me when I arrived. “Turkmen are too lazy for revolution”. Only time will tell if she was right.
This blog is part of an Off-The-Beaten-Track Travel Diary. Click on the link below to navigate through this journey.