Having visited the unique, “out of this world” ever burning crater called "Door to hell" (take a look at my post about it), we headed to yet another, not less spectacular wonder - white-red Yangikala Canyons. On the way, we stopped in Avaza - a resort town located near the city of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea coast. This town was like no other we'd ever seen. Built very recently, virtually in the middle of nowhere - full of ultra modern high-rise buildings and 5 star hotels - Avaza is probably the least known and most peculiar resort in the world. And it’s inspiring to be the second Dubai.
How to get to Avaza
Let's admit - you've most probably never heard of nor wished to visit Avaza, let alone Turkmenistan. To reach Avaza, as a foreigner coming from the West, is quite difficult. You must enter Turkmenistan first and this may be tricky. However, it's not that difficult - contrary to popular opinion. But you must obtain an invitation from a tour agency located in the country. Independent travel is virtually impossible - tourist infrastructure is practically non existent. But even though we took the tour, our drivers were amazing and took us to quite a few local, completely off the tourist path places. I'll keep writing about those places in Turkmenistan.
To find out more on how to get to Turkmenistan, check out my post about the world's most peculiar, white marble capital - Ashgabat.
Avaza - first impressions
Avaza is located on the Caspian Sea coast which technically is not a sea but a large lake. The area around is extremely dry and arid - it's a semi-desert. The only thing you see while driving on the country's worn out roads is the never ending vastness of endless flatlands with the exception of some camels roaming around and a few houses dotted here and there.
Then, suddenly, the road changes into what it seems like a brand new highway and continues this way to the very resort.
Along the way, you can spot beautifully designed street lamps, arches and huge screens displaying news and information. Of course, as it's common in places of this sort, an enormous flagpole adorns the emptiness.
Normally, resort towns, 5 star hotels and lying on packed beaches are not what we want to do when traveling. But when you visit a country as closed and unknown as Turkmenistan, you want to explore all its aspects. I had read about Avaza previously and saw a few YouTube videos. I wanted to see it with my own eyes and experience what's it really like. Usually, I'm a bit skeptical about reports made by western media, however the way we found Avaza, was pretty much like shown on those videos.
But I must mention that the season when we visited Avaza may have impacted the experience - we went there in middle November. Although it was very sunny and dry - the nights were bitterly cold and the temperature during the day was not higher than around 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit).
The strangest resort town in the world
Out tour included accommodation in one of the brand new 5 star hotels. The hotel was spotless and we could basically use all its amenities without any limits - the swimming pool, gym, spa etc. We didn't enjoy it much as we spent only one night there and wanted to walk around rather than laying at the swimming pool.
It turned out that we were the only guests in this hotel (I didn't see any other visitors in the whole town of Avaza, anyway). At night, all the buildings were beautifully illuminated - but you might think - is it not the waste of energy if there's absolutely no one around?
When we woke up the next morning - we went to the beach to see what it's like. The Caspian Sea beaches are nothing spectacular - comparing to some of the other beaches we've seen. The sand was dark and brownish but the water was surprisingly cleat and had a peculiar, green color. The beaches are full of white seashells which from afar might look like snow.
Then, we went on a walk. There were many futuristic buildings with innovative designs and so many more under construction. Basically everywhere we could spot billboards showing new investments. Apart from the futuristic hotels, there was also an artificial canal with house estates on both sides. Probably for those a bit worse off - so they also could enjoy the summer and rent a house instead of staying in the hotel.
There was one thing that kind of shocked us. Although the town was empty, there were old, worn out buses in the streets with people coming in and out. These were workers - it doesn't matter that it's low season - Avaza must be perfect. We saw the laborers trimming the hedges, helping to clean out the mess during the construction works and... sweeping the wide roads with brooms as well as polishing the street lamps manually! On one hand - this might seem ridiculous - but on the other - I wonder if it's not better for the people living in villages to have an opportunity to have a job.
The red moon
As an interesting fact, I want to talk about a strange phenomenon we observed in Turkemistan. Not only in Avaza, but also around the desert: the red moon. Normally, this occurs during the eclipse, but this is not the case in Central Asia. It is caused by the desert dust hanging in the air and changing the color of the sky near the horizon. As a result, the setting sun and the moon have a deep red color which is quite fascinating to observe.
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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