Kunya Urgench

My last place of visit in Turkmenistan was the Unesco site of Kunya Urgench near the city of Dashoguz. In Kunya Urgench you follow a long path, along it you will see old buildings from the 11th till 16th century, Sultan Tekesh and Arslan mausoleum,Gutlug Timur minaret and the Turabeg Khanym mosque or mausoleum, it’s not clear untill this day which one of the two it is. 7 monuments in total and I didn’t spend many more time here because once you have seen these few building that are a little bit spread over the landscape along the path you have seen it. It took me not even half an hour before I went back to my driver in the 4X4 jeep to take me to the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for my first border crossing in the Stans.
From the Turkmen province of Dashoguz to the Uzbek province of Karakalpakstan which has an autonomous status within Uzbekistan. I visited the city of Khiva there.

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Turabeg Khanym

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Arslan mausoleum

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Sultan Tekesh mausoleum

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Turkmen girls visiting their Unesco heritage site of Kunya Urgench

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Gutlug Timur minaret the tallest medieval minaret in Central Asia and the only survived part of the old main mosque that used to stand here in the 13th century

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locals at a mosque

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the end of the path

a short video of me talking Flemish (Dutch) abut the buildings that I see

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Darvaza Hell on Earth

Darvaza is a burning gas crater about 5 hours ride from Ashgabat Turkmenistan’s capital.
The name comes from a little desert town that doesn’t exist no more at the same place where the crater is, in the middle of the Karakum desert between the city of Ashgabat and Kunya-Urgench.
Back in the 1971 when Turkmenistan was in the Soviet Union, the Soviets were drilling for oil in this area rich of gas of which they didn’t knew about and the ground collapsed leaving a big hole like a crater. To prevent the spread of poisonous methane gas, they set it on fire, thinking the fire will burn the gas of in a few weeks, but it’s still burning untill this day, more than 40 years non-stop.
It’s nice during the day but at night it’s spectacular ! It really looks like hell, hell on earth as I call it or the “Door to hell” as most people like to call it.
You can smell the gas and feel the heat, when the wind comes blowing better to go a few steps back from the crater cause you really feel your face glowing. I had to run several times back and forth when suddenly out of nowhere a strong wind appeared and blew the heat into my face. Some bugs and spiders live around the crater, incredible that these little animals can stand the heat around the crater.
I spend the night in a little tent that was set up by the tour company Owadan Travel not so far away from the crater, My driver had everything with him, enough water and food.
In the evening there was a grill and I had some kebab with Vodka. Muslims in Central Asia they do drink Vodka something they learned from Soviet times hehe 🙂
So if you want to see how hell looks like, go to Darvaza Turkmenistan.

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just on the edge

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the bottom

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I’m falling deep down below

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this is me ready to jump 🙂

this is the view of hell you can see from a long distance

this is the view of hell you can see from a long distance

The Pearl of Asia

TURKMENISTAN !

From Belgium I flew with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and from there to Ashgabat. When arriving in Istanbul I had less than an hour to switch planes and I directly saw Turkmen women with their typical colorful Turkmen clothes and knew it right away that I was at the right terminal ready to go to Turkmenistan !  Continue reading