People in Ashgabat

Ashgabat was such a strange city. Strangely quiet and strangely clean. We didn't see many people about at all and we couldn't find any shops or anything that resembled a city centre. In Iran you don't get a moment's peace because people are so friendly they just don't leave you alone. Ashgabat is the opposite. People don't seem to speak much. In Iran there were always people socialising and working etc. In Ashgabat we couldn't work out what everyone was doing!

When we first set out from our hotel to go and find a bank the only people we saw were a group of people trimming the grass on the road verges and central reservation ...with scissors! They were mostly women, all wrapped up from head to toe like mummies and wearing high visibility jackets. There were too many of them for the task.

Alot of the women we saw were all wearing matching long red dresses.

What else made Ashgabat seem so strange?
Was it the 11 O'clock curfew?
The amount of police and soldiers standing around not doing much, guarding statues etc.?
The huge empty roads that dont go anywhere?
The quietness, lack of chit-chat on the bus or on the street, no horns or sirens?
In the Childrens Theatre the stewards kept telling little babies to be quiet or get out?
The emptiness. The lack of people and traffic?
The way you never see families or couples out together?
The impersonal way people respond, if they respond at all?
The cleanliness?
The way all the cars are big shiny and new.
The way the city is surrounded by such complete emptiness, no farms or villages.
The fact that everything is shut all the time?
Is it because there are no shops or ordinary houses; only anonymous luxury apartments and office buildings?
The weird pictures of horses everywhere?
The quotes from Turkmenbashi everywhere?
The mesmerising floaty music on the buses?
The fact that there are no taxis, you just have to hitch everywhere?
Or is it that the hotel rooms are bugged?

In what might have been the city centre some of the first people we saw out and about were these three ladies all wearing the same kind of long red dress.
Everywhere we went we saw these women all wrapped-up and working doing things like gardening, sweeping etc. This lady had a soldier watching her the whole time as she swept the pavement in the park. The pavement was already pretty clean too.

The soldiers guarding the big statue of Turkmanbashi stood perfectly still all day in the roasting sun.

The women wear beautiful long dresses.

This lady was picking some herbs I think. or weeding in the go-kart track.

Some ladies with matching red dresses. This was in the park in the desert outside of the city. There weren't many people there.

More of the women we saw everywhere working in the gardens all wrapped-up.

A worker.

Somebody painting the swings.

Ladies in matching red dresses getting ice cream.

Eventually we found a market.

Not sure what they were selling though. Herbs or remedies?

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