This port on the Caspian Sea was formerly called Krasnovodsk, but it was renamed for President Niyazov, who also goes by the name Turkmenbashi—leader of the Turkmen. Although it's hot and dusty and ringed by ugly concrete buildings, Turkmenbashi is a fairly relaxing place 320 mi/515 km northwest of Ashgabat with an almost Mediterranean feel. It is usually only seen by those coming by boat from Baku, Azerbaijan. If you arrive on a ferry, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative will meet you at the jetty for visa formalities. If you have time before catching a train or plane to Ashgabat, take a look at the town's fort, originally built in 1717. It houses a museum with history and natural history exhibits. Turkmenbashi is also a departure point for desert treks.

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