Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan

We started our trip about 6 yrs ago in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabad. A crazy, beautiful city with mostly marble, fountains, more marble, statues and a bit more marble. But that is something for another post.
On the roads you still see plenty of ex-Soviet cars (independence from the Soviet Union was declared in October 1991)

As we were making our way outside of the city, all the beautiful marble and posh buildings disappeared...

...until there was absolutely nothing anymore, with another 200km to go.

The last 30 minutes required a bit of desert navigation, and then we finally saw what we came for...

The Darvaza gas crater!
In 1971, the Soviets were drilling in what they thought was an oilfield. It turned out to be gas though, and the ground beneath the grilling site collapsed into a giant crater.
Added this picture for scale (sorry, no banana)

In order to avoid the poisonous gasses to reach the nearby towns the engineers thought it would be best to burn off the gas - and so they did.

As of 2016, it is still burning!

In typical Soviet style, there is no fence or security of any kind. Rumour says that it already claimed a few victims, one of them being a drunk japanese tourist.

We decided to hang out by the side a bit and enjoy some wine. An odd experience - in the desert it gets quite cold at night, but occassionaly when the wind turns it feels like someone is blowing a hairdryer in your face.

After (another bottle of) the wine, we decided to go bunk in our tent - and felt like we were on another planet!

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