Turkmenistan Immigration, a kitten and some cookies

Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in blog | 5 comments

Turkmenistan Immigration, a kitten and some cookies

Tuesday, July 23

About 1pm the boat raised anchor and excitement rippled through the ferry as we chugged into the stark Turkmenbashi port. Six hours later, we were still on the boat.

A few gregarious dock workers used an English dictionary to shout garbled questions up at us, such as “How old are you,” “What did you study in school” and “Will you marry me.” One said he had seen Jennifer Lopez when she sang Happy Birthday to President Berdymukhamedov (and later apologized saying she didn’t know he was a repressive cult-of-personality dictator. That’s probably true as she apparently tweeted to her Turkmen followers, who most likely number zero as social media is banned.). I’m guessing the dock worker saw her on TV, considering the concert was in a $2 billion resort and organized by the Chinese.


Around 7pm we were allowed off the boat and into Turkmenistan immigration. Narmy had to put on a shirt with sleeves before he was allowed to enter. The convoluted process took 4.5 hours and 20 steps, many involving carrying a form into a small room where a lone man sat quietly at an empty desk with only a stamp. We talked to a veterinarian. There was a “bank” with a tiny window and an even tinier woman working behind it. Jamie kneeled to talk to her through the gap. There was a $1.40 bridge tax (I never saw a bridge) and I paid $140 for something I still don’t understood. Wardlaw sat on the floor in the center of the room and played with a kitten. An officer brought us cookies on a plate. A man who spoke excellent English came out to rifle through our car and wrote “Best Wishes from Turkmenistan” on the map sticker on the hood of the van.

photo 2

Here’s a sketch of my route through immigration.

photo 1

I wonder if JLo went through this.


  1. OK Robin. You’ve convince me. Next holiday destination–Turkmenistan! Not far now.

    • haha! It’s definitely an intriguing place!

  2. The $140 was for his autograph on your car!

    • An expensive autograph!

  3. Great pic of those boys, Robin. Only you could get a shot like this in Turkmenistan.


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