Turkmenabad to Merv

Merv Travel Blog

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Me with Gabriel and Silas at the Grand Kyz Qala

After dinner in Turkmenabad, we hopped in another car to ride to Merv that evening.  This would allow us to travel through the boring desert in the evening, and would let us get up bright and early to tour ancient Merv.  We left Turkmenabad just as dusk hit, and our driver could speak very little Russian, which was the language I was using to travel in Turkmenistan.  Forget the English, hardly anyone in that part of the world speaks English, and we were certainly outside the Persian circle of influence ever since leaving Bukhara.  So, I was relying on my 100 words of Uzbek which is roughly similar to Turkmen.  Let's just say we did not speak much, although the guy seemed friendly enough.

I did manage to get from the taxi driver that the ancient ruins of Merv are actually not that close to modern day Mary, but rather are about 30 minutes away at a town called Bairam Ali.

Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar
  The LP guide slams the place as an awful dusty town in the middle of the desert.  But our driver said he knew of a nice place to stay in Bairam Ali, which was actually before we got to Mary, so we agreed to stop and take a look.  We pulled into a really nice, quaint town with tree-lined streets.  The Lonely Planet author must have been in a bad mood when he went there.  We really liked the place.

We found the hotel the driver was talking about, and a nice Russian lady with her two daughters owned and ran the place.  They showed us a basic, but clean two room suite, for a total of $7 USD a night.  I probably could have bargained them down, but I had never had a suite offered to me for so little, so I took the room.  The water in the toilet leaked, but otherwise the place was fine.  We slept well, except that a mosquito bit the boys in the other room all night, and they woke up with mosquito bites the next morning.  Oh well.  That's part of traveling!  They didn't complain much.

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Me with Gabriel and Silas at the G…
Me with Gabriel and Silas at the …
Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar
Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar
A man driving his donkey cart
A man driving his donkey cart
The 12th century shrine complex
The 12th century shrine complex
The ancient city walls are work do…
The ancient city walls are work d…
Grand Kyz Qala
Grand Kyz Qala
1,184 km (736 miles) traveled
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photo by: TheJohnsons