In case you missed it, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, known as Arkadag or Protector there, unveiled a giant gold statue of his favourite dog in the capital Ashgabat. FYI, the country is ranked one of the least free in the world by press freedom organisation, just one place above North Korea and has an impoverished population. The 19ft statue was bestowed with the highest honour on Tuesday. It also has an LED screen with video footage of the breed.
According to BBC, the Alabay is a home-bred Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog, and this is not the first time it has been honoured.
However, this gold dog statue isn't the only bizarre thing that the country has to offer. Turkmenistan may be a small country in Central Asia, but it is also one of the strangest countries when it comes to its peculiar architecture and strange laws implemented by its president. It is one of the most isolated and oppressively governed countries in the world.
STRANGE THINGS ABOUT TURKMENISTAN
Last year, rumours of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's death started going around due to his week-long disappearance. To quash the rumours, Gurbanguly, who has been ruling the country for over 13 years, appeared on state television driving a rally car around a flaming gas crater known as Hell's Gate crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert. Yes, you read that right.
IT IS THE LEAST TRAVELLED COUNTRY
Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world with less than 10,000 foreign tourists a year, making Turkmenistan one of the top 10 least visited countries on earth. Why? Because it is extremely difficult and pricey to get inside the country.
GURBANGULY BERDYMUKHAMEDOV HAS A VIRAL RAP VIDEO
Gurbanguly went viral a few years ago with a rap video that he recorded with his grandson and supposedly wrote himself. The video was about the importance of sports called Sportily Turkmenistan. However, that is not all, the president has been seen weight training, DJing and horse riding. In 2013, he was filmed falling off his horse during a stunt, which he reportedly tried to prevent from being leaked.
THE CAPITAL CITY OF ASHGABAT
The capital of the country is a perfectly constructed city that has been decorated with the whitest of marbles. Almost all the buildings in the city are white and made of marble. It also has starkly empty streets therefore, modern Ashgabat is jokingly called the "city of the dead."
BLACK CARS ARE BANNED IN ASHGABAT
The former dictator made it illegal to have black cars in the city. So black cars are banned in the capital and dirty cars are not allowed. As a result, there are numerous car cleaning stations in the outskirts of Ashgabat where everyone gets their cars cleaned.
THE COUNTRY IS OBSESSED WITH SETTING RECORDS
The capital city of Ashgabat itself holds about four current Guinness World Records namely the world's most giant indoor Ferris wheel at 47.6m at the Alem entertainment centre in the south of Ashgabat, the highest numbers of fountains in public spaces and the highest concentration of white marble buildings.
MOST FAMOUS SIGHT IS A NATURAL DISASTER
The most famous site in the country is the Darvaza Gas Crater or the Gates To Hell crater. Yes, it is the same crater where the country's president proved to the world that he was not dead. The crater was created by mistake in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern. This caused the ground to collapse. Later, some geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas that was leaking. Since then, the crater has been burning non-stop.
HORSES ARE IMPORTANT IN TURKMENISTAN
Apart from dogs, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov also likes horses. But not just any horse, he is specifically a fan of Akhal-Teke breed. In fact, he is known for gifting the horses to other world leaders. He has also written several books on the local horse breed. Additionally, Akhal-Teke horse even appears on the national emblem of Turkmenistan. Gurbanguly even made it illegal to change an Akhal-Teke's name during its lifetime.
THE COUNTRY LOVES CARPET
Carpets hold an important place in the country's culture. There is a Ministry of Carpets in the Government and a National Carpet Museum in Ashgabat with more than 1,000 carpets on display. The country even has a public holiday celebrating carpet.