Immigration hell

Ashgabat Travel Blog

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Konye Urgench

As it seems that I look quit trustworthy as I did not have too much trouble checking in, as usual I had to separate briefly from my hand luggage, wallet and cellular and because of the recent attacks my MacBook had to be taken out of my bag. Little did they know that I still had my Suunto, wrist computer, on. This is one mean looking watch, the Godzilla of watches, you could easily hide a bomb in it. So far for Dutch security precautions… let’s see how the Germans fare.


Ehhh Frankfurt international airport; how should I phrase it… very efficient, very clean, very… German.


A pitstop in Baku, Azerbaijan… I’ve been in Azerbaijan.

Konye Urgench, crooked minaret top
I had to do a number 1 real urgently but they wouldn’t let me off the plane and being such a model passenger I didn’t use the bathroom. So after the formula 1 pitstop of the Azerbaijani ground crew that would make Micheal Schumacher jealous I could finally do my number 1 after 1 hour.


But that was nothing compared what Turkmenistan customs had in store. In the plane I had to fill out a customs form in two-fold declaring everything I had on money, valuables and electronics. It was made very clear that you declared everything or face the wrath of the Turkmeni bureaucracy. That left me with little choice other than complete the forms.


Finally at 23:15 local time (CET +3) I set foot on Turkmeni soil.

Konye Urgench
All tourists had to form an orderly queue for the immigration officer. After 1.5 hours it was my turn to pay my USD12 tourist tax and sign in a couple of forms, that were handwritten by the kind immigration officer, but I was not asked for the customs declaration form. First obstacle taken and off to the next one; I thought I got passed immigration but it happened that I only paid my tourist tax and signed the immigration forms. Again we had to make an orderly queue before the ‘real’ immigration officer.


It was already 01:30 and we were the last ones left with some Italian tourists of whom none knew any English or Russian and an authentic Turkmeen, who tried and succeeded in overtaking me in the queue. You don’t want to start an argument with a Turkmeen who is taller than you at 01:30 in the morning. He kept yelling something to me in Turkmenish or Russian with a fierce expression in his face, that was my trigger to take my loss and let him pass me. Finally I got past the immigration and wasn’t asked for the customs declaration form and could collect my luggage, and when you think it’s all over; you have to form an orderly queue for the luggage inspection officer, which meant more waiting as every piece of luggage had to be opened.


At 02:15 I was officially past the Turkmeni customs, but you never know for sure, and still wasn’t asked for the customs declaration form. All this waiting and filling out forms made me thirsty so I decided to buy 2 bottles of water, in my best Turkmenish = bad English, for USD1, but I didn’t have a smaller note than USD20. Official rate is USD1 for 5200 Manat, I think I got over 500.000 Manat in change. So either they made a mistake or I’m being scammed for a few dollars. Tomorrow we will go to Uzbekistan, which has an even more stricter customs policy if that is possible.

mygypsylife says:
Sounds like you had a half way decent experience at the airport in T-stan. I lived there for two years and I can tell you you got off easily, it could have been far worse. The completely screwed you on those bottles of water. the actual street exchange for manat is 20,000/USD, but the "official" rate is 5200/USD. Also the Turkmen people and language is called "Turkmen" sorry, that's been driving me crazy. Hope you enjoyed seeing Köneürgench!
Posted on: Jun 07, 2007
OurWorldTrip says:
Wow, that sounds like a great start ;)
Posted on: Nov 07, 2006
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Konye Urgench
Konye Urgench
Konye Urgench, crooked minaret top
Konye Urgench, crooked minaret top
Konye Urgench
Konye Urgench
photo by: Vlindeke