This place is sometimes referred to as North Korea with money. No facebook (or Tinder!). Huge oil wealth so the capital is the city of white marble. Totally perfect, no pedestrians, shop fronts, ugly carparks, just perfect streets and incredible buildings. The previous pres had a monument (pictured) with a gold statue of him that turned to face the sun. The people are kept happy with 20 cent per litre petrol. There are 3 UNESCO sites – ancient capitals of the Parthians and Persians. Highlight is Darveza – a pit that was leaking methane so the Soviets lit it to burn it off, in the 1970s.. now a tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere. Very touching how kind my first driver was – he and his brother drove me 11 hours, then they were driving back 9 hours on their own – for $125.. (I did tip on top as that was just ridiculous to accept it). They never rushed me and called next day to make sure I was well. Very sad that good people work for so little money in a country where there is plenty to go around. One of the hardest countries in the world to visit – it is one of 3 (with North Korea and Bhutan) where it is mandatory to have a set tour (which is expensive) unless you can get a transit visa (which I did) and that is tricky. That said, if you can you should go. The Museum was great – no photos allowed – it had a whole floor for the pres – they photoshopped him doing everything from milking cows to reading xrays and even performing surgery . They didn’t even try hard to make head proportional most the time it was literally just plonked on someone elses body.

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