Under the wings of Petronas …

Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. (picture) The Independence Square, with the golden dome Palace of Turkmenbashi on the left and other ministries in the centre. Ashgabat was completely levelled in a 1948 earthquake. The city was closed for 5 years to clear the bodies and debris. It was in this modern city that we finally met up with fellow Malaysians from Malaysia’s National oil company, Petronas.
(Turkmenistan … 09.01.05 to 10.02.05)

Waiting at the Ashgabat Olympic stadium for our Petronas’ contact, Azahar to pick us up. The brightly lit Ashgabat city centre lies in the distant. By the way, do the crescent and stars bear any similarity to some countries’ flag?

In Azahar’s house with Azwari, another Malaysian. Azahar was our 1st contact in Petronas, given by our embassy in Turkey. It was through Azahar that we got to know of Zul in Turkmenbashi port. Putting up with Azahar gave us the opportunities to savour malay dishes cooked by his wife.

Table tennis session with Mr.Lim, Azahar and Azwari. The guys had recently bought the table tennis table to spice up their after-work recreation. Alot of Petronas staffs and Malaysian sub-contractors in Ashgabat were highly skilled table tennis players. Don’t play play leh!

Joseph and his wife, Aunty Leh Mee at their apartment. The friendly couples were from Miri, Sarawak. Not only did we get to sample various chinese dishes from them, we also got a richer understanding of the life in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Stories of pepper growing, latex tapping, soy sauce making, salted egg making, Malaysia’s oil …

Tolkuchka Bazaar, an outdoor and biggest bazaar in Turkmenistan. Anything from food, spare parts to camels are sold there. It would take days to walk the bazaar. An elderly man in white beard cladded in traditional Turkmen overall and black sheepskin telpek hat buys from a vegetable seller.

Carpets from all parts of Turkmenistan, on sale in the bazaar.

Women cladded in typical Turkmen dresses and overalls selling silverware.

Turkmen overalls

“Yakka”, a part of the Turkmen women’s traditional dress

Selling pieces of banana in the bazaar. Each banana costed 7000 manat (around US$0.35)

Salad store

Selling cloths and rugs

The 75m Arch of Neutrality. On top of the Arch stands a revolving golden statue of President Niyazov. The statue would revolve according to the sun’s direction.

With Aunty Leh Mee and her driver, Sabril (of Kazak origin) at the “5-legs” fountain building. It is said to be the largest fountain in the world. A statue of President Niyazov is erected infront of the fountain.

Infront of the Petronas Carigali Ashgabat office with the Malaysian staffs stationed there. These were the overseas Malaysians who took us in, sheltered us, fed us and tried to assist us in anyway they could, especially during our frustrating visa matters with the local authorities.

With Azahar’s family on the day of departure. As in similar fashion on the day we arrived in Ashgabat, Azahar led us in his car, this time, out of Ashgabat.

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