Never having received a postcard or indeed any other form of communication from Turkmenistan, I was most intrigued this morning to discover on our doormat a picture of the gigantic golden statue of Saparmurat Niyazov. It was erected in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, during Niyazov's sixteen years as first President of this former Soviet territory. It was not the only statue he commissioned of himself before his death in 2006.
Famously, during his years in office, the esteemed leader banned ballet claiming it was indecent and required all schoolchildren to be examined upon a book of folk tales and moralistic fables that he had written himself. Anyway, excuse me for rambling on. I doubt that any readers of this blog will be planning holidays in Turkmenistan in the near future.
So I flipped over the picture of King Midas - I mean Saparmurat Niyazov - to discover these words* neatly printed in green ballpoint:-
Got pulled over by the police just after we left Ashgabat. They climbed in the back with a sniffer pig and found the parking officers. Then they marched them off in handcuffs to be questioned at security headquarters. They were returned in the early hours - battered and bruised, minus wristwatches, money and jewellery. I'm writing this as we queue with other trucks to cross over into Afghanistan.
*a few technical errors have been corrected.
Sniffer pig watching in Turkmenistan