Day 27: Sightseeing in Mary and Merv
Today we went to see sightseeing with Guvanch and Aygul, two local brothers and sisters, Guvanch drove with us from Sarahs to Mary yesterday. But first we had to take care of some administrative things such as getting a SIM card or changing our Iranian money to Turkmen Manat.
Interesting architecture in Mary
It is clearly visible in Mary that the city and the state has money from its vast gas and oil resources. The roads in the center were very nice, and all the official buildings where build in white marble and generously dimensioned. There was a big mosque, a huge library, a theater, and half a dozen other interesting buildings. And a giant Turkmen flag that, as I was told, is around 100 m2 large.
Apart from this, the city looks very clean and safe, but does not have any major attraction for tourists that I have seen.
Ancient ruins in Merv
Merv is around 30 km east of Mary and was one of the former glorious Silk Road cities at the time. Most of the city however is only ruins, the only thing left are the Mausoleum of Soltan Sanjar from the 12th century and one or two other remainders of buildings. However many walls from the ancient city are still visible and you get a good impression how large the whole area was. And nowadays there are camels and cows living between the ruins which gives it a unique atmosphere.
Calm evening in Watan
The evening we spent again with Guvanch, Aygul and their family in a village called Watan, around 15 minutes away from Mary. We really had a great time with them and I have to say that the Turkmen hospitality is by no means less generous than the Iranian hospitality was. Now we need to collect some energy for the coming three days where we will have to cycle 280 km through the desert to the Uzbek border. We expect the weather to be hot and the wind not to be in our favor.