This is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He is the President of Turkmenistan. He can play basketball, soccer, volleyball and ping pong.
Time to raise some ire. Based on strictly personal experience, here are some stereotypes that are sure to offend. All in good, clean fun. I think I’ll add more as they occur to me. Feel free to irritate your own chosen ethnicity in the comments.
Finland: Stubborn. Not malevolent.
Germany: No excuse for the disappointment that is their food.
India: Does luxury well. Wealth disparity allows this. High end more affordable for tourists than elsewhere.
New Zealand: Permanent slightly perplexed look. Sunburnt. Buggy eyes.
Pacific Islands: Collective motto: “Don’t hurt me please.” The ukelele and all its music is the cause of this.
Paraguay: Important only to Paraguayans. Who are sweet and all, sure. Still.
Scotland: Paternal. Strong men will take care of you. Like it or not. Ireland has some of this.
Thailand: The world’s consistently strangest names. Like Kejmanee Pichaironnarongsongkram. Except possibly
Turkmenistan, whose leader is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.
Turkey: Tirelessly gracious but with a useless language shared by no one but Central Asians. In Turkish, as often as not the “G” goes away. “Erdogan” is pronounced “erdo-an.” A “C” with a cedille, “ç,” is pronounced “dj” like George. Çiragon is “Jiron.”
USA: Groupthink. If you want, you can really think things through and work out what you think. But you have to do more than ‘like’ things on Facebook. Why bother? Your tribe’s news channel can think everything through and tell you.
Vietnam: Wiry. Persistent. Shake hands with tight grip. Prim. Barefoot.
What’s with President Putin’s puffed up tough-guy pose in the Caspian Summit class picture? Pretty funny. And hey, THAT’s what President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov looks like (right).
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. A name not made for Twitter.
Photo credit: Office of the President of Russia
We're hitting the road again soon, for Turkey and Ukraine, and there is just enough time for a quick fly-in fly-out to somewhere else, so we made a bid to visit our first "'Stan."
We'll arrive at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul late in the evening, and Turkish Airlines' flight schedule works out great. It would allow us to keep pushing east. Just a brief layover in the raved-about new Turkish lounge, and off we'd go to Ashgabat.
Alas, it was not to be.
The Turkmen government requires a letter of invitation (loi) in order to grant a tourist visa. They're available through travel services (Uncornered Market blog does a good job describing how to get an loi), and we applied through a friendly, helpful service in Ashgabat.
We didn't invest much of our hearts in our quick little prospective visit, and it's just as well, because Turkmenistan didn't invite us, at least on the dates we could visit. This morning brought an email from our man in Ashgabat:
"Please, be informed, the Migration Service of Turkmenstan
has announced some limitations on issuing LOIs (for tourist visas) for the
period between March 11 till March 25. Now, we must shift the dates of
your travel to Ashgabat before March 11 or after March 25.
Please, advise if it is possible for you to travel to
Turkmenistan during the period of March 9 till March 11?"