Ashkabat Turkmenistan is a strange place. Built as what one can only assume is a singular vision from the first president of Turkmenistan after independence; there are wide beautifully landscaped and well maintained boulevards lined with huge white government, commercial and residential edifices with plenty of space in between each but yet no people. There are men in uniform at every corner and got very agitated when dumb North American tourists approached anything with their cameras drawn ready to take pictures. One of our group received a full police escort back to the hotel after riding too close (actually he might have been a bit lost) to the parliament buildings or presidential palace.
Its been described as the Dubai or Las Vegas of Central Asia but Bizarro World would be more appropriate.
We did get an opportunity to spend some time at a horse ranch where we saw up close some fine examples of the the ancient and famous Turkmenistan Akhal-Teke breed.
On the way back to town a quick stop at the "Great and Generous" First President's mausoleum and mosque. In most mosques there are quotes from the Quran and those attributed to Mohammed, but not in this mosque. All the quotes in there were from the man himself - Turkmenbashi.
He also had a little 12 meter high gold statue in his likeness made and placed atop a 75 meter tall tripod spanning a boulevard. And of course the statue rotates to always face the sun.