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Great akm 2010-03-03 21:08

Thanks Hendrik for this post. Your image and note are fascinating and scary. I suspect that this was not an easy place to photograph. Your POV gives a striking view and a good impression of the extravagant empty street.

Old 03-07-2010, 04:05 PM
Clipper Clipper is offline
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Default To akm: Thanks

Dear Mary,

indeed taking pictures in Turkmenistan is far from easy - which is the reason why there aren't that many pictures from this country here (way less even than from North Korea) - and the few pictures mainly show what the government wants people to see: ruins from the Silk-Road age and vast, empty deserts.
Taking pictures: As a tourist you are accompained at all time and allowed to photograph only what your three guides allow - and that's not terribly much. I was fortunate enough to be allowed into the country on a different visa (took me 13 months to get!) and could therefore take pictures with relative freedom. Guards, secret police and so on are everywhere and I was interrogated repeatedly and had - like any other visitor - to hand in my flash cards and hard drives three days prior to departure at the ministry of fairness (that's no joke, they also have a ministry of wellbeing), they checked through and deleated what they thought might leave a bad impression. I had bought software however to install hidden partitions on those harddrives, so most pictures I'll be uploading here ... well ... I was praying, on the day I went to the airport to receive my storage devices and leave the country.

It worked, after all, I am here to write and ... show what that country is like!

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Old 03-10-2010, 06:31 AM
akm akm is offline
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Default Turmenistan

Dear Hendrik,
Thank you so much for your note. I only just found it -- after I had written "critiques" of your two latest posts. You'll see that you have answered my questions about how you managed to get access. I'm in awe of your efforts and ingenuity and thrilled that you managed to get out with "subversive" images. I hope you're thinking of a book.
Best regards,
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:28 PM
Clipper Clipper is offline
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Default A book...

Well, maybe, but then what demand is there for stories and pictures from this country? I lived there for a total of five months and from all I saw and learned, the country could be the twin of North Korea in many regards. But North Korea is well known and acts very agressive, whereas Turkmenistan keeps a low profile. Turkmen are not allowed to leave their country without permission, internal travel restrictions even make leaving one's home town a difficult thing (and one that certainly raises suspicion). Turkish Airways, Lufthansa and Turkmenistan Airlines are the only companies offering connections wit Europe. I flew Lufthansa each time I went there and we were between 5 and 14 passengers on the flight - in an Airbus A340-600, big enough to fit nearly 400 people in. Amazing flight (I'll upload a picture later). So few get in to see anything and those who do hardly ever receive visa for any plance outside the capital Ashgabat. International newspapers are illegal and with only one server offering extremely restrcited and permanently monitored access to the internet, Turkmenistan has in fact been turned into some sort of intranet. No news gets out and none gets in. When living there I felt like in a black hole, the outside world simply didn't exist.
But really, who wants to know all this?

And yes, taking pictures there was extremely difficult. I had some problems at times. But then I thought I certainly won't return so I took as many pictures as possible.
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