Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ashgabat International Airport

On our flight from Ashgabat to Frankfurt at around 1 am on May 29 we got our passports checked and our luggage scanned multiple times even before we got to the registration desk, and aditional times after that. It seemed that they had a passport check point in every corridor that connected one zone of the airpot to another. The waiting zone was full of cigarette smoke, as it was allowed to smoke and ventialtion was insufficient, therefore, we went to wait to another hall that served 4 more boarding gates. We almost missed our flight sitting there -- there was no billboard to announce boarding anywhere in view, and they boarded all of the passengers that were in the correct (smoke-filled) waiting hall without making any radio announcements. The Airport does not have a tax-free shop; the only existing shop sells Turkmen carpets, but we did not check if it was open.

Hotel Ak Altyn Plaza, Ashgabat

I stayed in this hotel from May 26 to May 29, 2013. Pros: a good view from the 8th floor on the city and the nearby hills, air-conditioning, continental breakfast. Cons: the hotel has no rooms for non-smokers, as it is allowed to smoke in every room; no ventilation in the rooms -- air conditioning only recirculates the air, and there is no way you can open a window; the plug in the bathtub was absent - taken away because its mechanism was broken; after multiple consultations with the reception and the technicians and some 20h of waiting I finally got a simple rubber plug in substitution of the fancy original; unexpectedly fancy lighting on the ceiling -- I had  to switch it on and off at least 3 times before I got what I wanted -- namely, light on to the maximum brightness, on the first attempt you only get some blue LEDs and stay wondering whether that is all you will ever get; and finally, beware of the teabags in plain view on the table -- contrary to every other hotel I know, here they will charge you US$ 2,00 for each bag. They don't recommend to drink tap water in Turkmenistan, therefore hotel provides electric jugs in each room -- notwithstanding my technical background, I also had problems with that, which were not solved by their technician either -- sometimes the jug would not come on. In such cases, their restaurant provides you with hot water -- free of charge.