Going Mary

From Ashgabat, we headed towards Mary, known in ancient days as Merv. It would be another 600km before we could reach the border of Uzbekistan.
(Turkmenistan … 09.01.05 to 10.02.05)

Ojam’s family in Gawerz village. Ojam sells fresh cow milk to Ashgabat’s markets everyday. From his 7 cows, they could get almost 30L of milk daily, selling at US$0.35/litre.

In Artyk village with the Baymyradow family. The father initially did not want to accommodate us due to no gas supply in their house. Their house was out of gas supply piping in the village and they worried that it would be too cold for us. We did stay overnight eventually . Artyk is the nearest village to Iran along the Kopet Dag mountains range.

Selling car and motorbike lubricant outside their house. Dushak village.

In addition to selling lubricant, the Caryyarow family also operates a small grocery shop and makes and sells ‘manty’ in the local train station.

Mahyrn and her bro, Dowlet making manty from flour and mutton. They make around 1000 manty everyday, selling them in the train stations from day to night.

At their store in the train station. It is a mini bazaar catering to the train passengers. We went with them to the train station at 8pm. The last train that night would be around 9pm.

Dowlet and his mother busy selling manty. Their manty were selling liked hot cakes. Each manty costed 250 manat (approx. US$0.01).

Introducing Malaysia to Agamurat in Waharman village. We carry a Malaysia map and sometimes exchange information about Malaysia with our hosts.

Customers sitting outside on the typical wooden platform at a roadside cafe having their food.

Hanaly’s wife cooking plov for dinner. Our host in Howuz-Han, Hanaly went out to buy cotton oil and rice to prepare plov for his visitors – us. The oil and rice were actually ‘bought’ on credit; Hanaly would have to clear the debt when he starts working by spring.

With our host, Hanaly (2nd man from left) and his family.

Temperature dropped that night and rain turned into snow. We were travelling up north, actually away from the warmer south. From the television weather forecasts, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan were snowing with temperature way below zero degrees.

Roasting pork, marinated with salt in a pit for 6hrs. Our host in Mary is a roast pork distributor.

With our host, Toyly and his close friend, Merat’s family chatting over dinner in their flat. Toyly explained that they were more liked “russian-muslim”. During the soviet era, religion belief was suppressed. Many muslims were either not practising or they had to do it discreetly. When the USSR collapsed some 13 years ago, Islam returned to Turkmenistan. However, many were already so disassociated with the Islam practices liked going to mosques and fasting month. As a result, many of them merely keep the Islam faith . To make a living, Toyly distributes roast porks to local markets. Most of the customers, russians.

Toyly packing the roast pork after 6hrs of roasting in the pit.

Besides roast pork distributor, Toyly is also a wholesaler of cigarettes. We visited him in Mary’s biggest wholesale bazaar before we left the city.

Maksat’s somsa, a kind of mutton pie baked from the tamdyr in picture. Maksat’s somsa and choret were selling liked hot cakes in Bayram Ali. According to Maksat, the Saudi princes always buy his bread when they come to Bayram Ali for hunting during summer.

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