Note: Internet connections here seem inconsistent, so pictures will be posted on the blog as they can be transmitted.
Modern day Ashgabat was a total surprise. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Niyazov declared independence for Turkmenistan on October 27, 1993. He was declared president for life until his death in 2006 during which time the city underwent a remarkable transformation, some might say eccentric and unique transformation. All the new buildings would be lavishly faced with white Italian marble, sparkling golden domes, extravagant fountains with large parks and wide boulevards. And the city is graced with his 12 meter high golden statue on the Arch of Neutrality. My tour guide said the the city is called Las Vegas not because of casinos but rather all these marble buildings are bathed at night with changing colors which offers a unique urbanscape at night.