Part of what makes Turkmenistan feel like such a strange place is that Turkmenbashi is EVERYWHERE. Born Saparmurat Niyazov and orphaned as a young boy by an earthquake that leveled much of Ashgabat, when he took power as leader of Turkmenistan he styled himself Turkmenbashi (“Leader of all Turkmen”) and seemingly began building statues of himself immediately.
Walking around Ashgabat (Me walking, not him. He died while I was in college.), Turkmenbashi stared at me from the tops of plinths in central squares and the facades of buildings even out into the suburbs.
Though it apparently was out-of-order while I was in town, there’s even a 70 meter Tripod of Neutrality topped by a 12 meter statue built to rotate throughout the day to always face the sun. That’s a whole lot of glorious Turkmenbashi!
I worry that I may be overstating my point with all these photos, but I really want you to get a good feel fr what I’m talking about here:
That’s what Turkmenbashi is about!