Turkmenistan – Day 1
Impressed with the calibre of British design talent, The House of Models – only one of two design houses in Turkmenistan ensured we became VIP guests of the embassy and thus invited us on a three day visit to the central Asian country to exhibit at the most important event for the textiles industry – Turkmen of Textiles, which takes place the first weekend in June each year as a celebration of the booming industry and its employees.
Knowing very little, if nothing at all about Turkmenistan this instantly become an intriguing prospect and we were thrilled with the invitation. Even on the lead up to the trip, researching what was in store was a difficult the task. The country has an air of mystery with very little written about it. It is almost impossible for tourists to visit unless invited by the government. This is not a holiday destination, and with an 11pm curfew for everyone, is a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of London town!
The journey began with a 12 hour trip to reach the capital Ashgabat. We arrived at 3am in the morning so the car ride from the airport to the hotel really showed off the city’s well lit architecture and love of coloured water fountains – apparently Ashgabat is in the Guinness book of world records for the most fountains in one city!
We have since learnt they sadly experienced a tragic earthquake in 1948 which destroyed every single building bar one and killed two thirds of the population. It then went on to rebuild itself with an array of grand, spectacular infrastructure dominated by a pure white marble exterior made glamorous with a hint of gold.
Our hotel could not be better placed, just moments away is the Independence and Peace monument, known as the ‘lolly pop’ by locals and just across the road is the Turkmenbasy Palace, the presidential headquarters. Unfortunately photos of both impressive sights are banned, and with a strong military presence pounding the streets, I won’t be attempting another quick snap!
Day one was an exciting exploration into what the city has to offer, setting up for the exhibition and catwalk show at tomorrow’s event and a special tour around one the city’s newest textiles factory’s.
The textiles industry in Turkmenistan is the third largest industry after oil and metal. It has huge potential and is growing more impressive each day. This was demonstrated to us with a visit to one of its largest factory’s on the outskirts of the city. Full report with a gallery of images from the factory will be coming soon! In the mean time… to bed, in preparation for the first day of the expo tomorrow!
Watch this space….