Topic: Travel to Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan, located in the southern most part of the former Soviet Union, is rich in tradition, culture and natural beauty. A small country of five million people, Turkmenistan shares it's boarder with Iran in the south, Afghanistan to the east, Uzbekistan in the north and the Caspian Sea to the west. Hundreds of years ago the territory now known as Turkmenistan linked great civilizations together from the East and West along the great Silk Road. Today you can see much of the same people living here preserving their traditions, culture and heritage.
The great Silk Road not only carried silk along its path but also was a source of communication, religion, technology and travel since 500 B.C. The chief route for trade between China and Western Europe originated in Italy traversing through the deserts and mountains across Turkey and into Turkmenistan. As a natural "half-way" point you can still see the old oasis's where tired travelers took their rest before continuing on into Central Asia.
On their route the towns of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Merv and Kunya-Urgench played important stops for the caravans. Caravans from Merv started for Serags, Nishapur (Iran), Abiverd, Nissa, Dekhistan, then continued along the coast of the Caspian Sea heading towards Turkey. These towns are full of mystery and superstition. The ancient town of Kunya-Urgench is said to have been destroyed seven times, each time resurrecting itself like a phoenix out of ashes. In the middle of the XIV century Husein Sufi, a Turkmen from Kungrad, founded a dynasty here ruling up until the raids of Tamerlan's military.
Merv, located in the southeastern region of Turkmenistan, was one of the most important capitals of the Moslem world. Compared to Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad it's birth came from the Great Seldzuks and attracted scientists and merchants from all over the Moslem world. The Seldjuk Empire stretched from the Lower Amu-Darya to the Mediterranean Sea. One can still walk within its great walls and see the ancient mosques from a time long ago past.
The Turkmen people once known as some of the fiercest warriors, helping and aiding the likes of Kangus Kan and Alexander the Great, will only kill you with kindness. They are some of the friendliest people on the Silk Road with their diversity, humor and superstitions. As a visitor you'll be asked in their homes for tea, or even join in as a part of a family wedding. You'll share with them their holy shrines, and traditional "Tamdyr" bread, still made the same way as hundreds of years ago. Bargain with the colorfully dressed women at the bazaars while talking with "Yash-olies" or holy men at a horserace. Traditions like carpet making, weaving, embroidery and jewelry making still can be seen and observed all in a day.
Turkmenistan can also boast some of the most stunning natural beauty in Central Asia. It's deserts, steppes, canyons, mountains, oasis', and wildlife are some of the rarest in the world. Here one can ride on the beautiful Akhal Teke horse through and above magnificent gorges in the Kopetdag Mountains or gallop across the grasslands. Be a part of a camel caravan crossing through sand dunes sprinkled with wildflowers or swim off Turkmenistan's shores in the Caspian Sea with Caspian Seals.