09.14.09

A(AAAArrrrrrghhhhh)zerbaijan

Posted in Azerbaijan, The journey journal at 2:42 pm by Administrator

So we’re stuck for another 24 hours at least in Azerbaijan and we’re uber disappointed to say the least. The delay looks like its going to cost about 1500 bucks at least. The scamming buggers that we booked the ticket through (don’t use airfare.com they suck!!!!) decided that after much correspondence back and forth about me travelling at the moment that they’d tell me that they issued an eticket and then book a paper ticket and not send it to me. So we turned up to the airport brimming with confidence that we’d be out of this nexus of corruption in no time but, oh no, we’re not lucky enough for that. No paper ticket = no fly. Especially when you have a few blokes behind you waiting for empty seats to appear and sporting a much larger bankroll than us. So needless to say we got screwed and weren’t allowed to fly. Argh. Then it was fighting with ripoff merchant taxi drivers to get back into the city and sort things out because it seems impossible to book flights at an airport. MORONS! Anyway we got into the city and found internet and dumped our stuff back at the hostel. (some of the very limited number of nice people in the country)
After a bit of research it seems that we can get a turkish airlines flight (heaps better than uzbek air anyway) leaving tomorrow morning. I also happened to notice that a business class ticket was only a few euros more each and so snapped it up and we get to live the posh life of luxury tomorrow even though we are that lot bit closer to being stone cold broke. So tonight we’re gunna sleep at the airport (thanks to the every reliable info on www.sleepinginairports.net) and head of in the morning (oh great god of optimism please don’t fail me now).

Bye for now and hopefully my next installment will be typed with a mouthful of delicious curry.

Tc and Nic

09.12.09

Baku

Posted in Azerbaijan, The journey journal at 12:02 pm by Administrator

So we are now in the Azeri capital of Baku. We had to bus over from Tbilisi because with my sickness and the morons at the Azeri consulate in Istanbul stuffing up our visas twice we didn’t have time to ride. Now that we’ve done the trip we are sooo glad that we didn’t ride that leg. The bus ride from Tbilisi is 556 km and it took us 15 hours to complete on the bus. They have decided that the highway needed to be upgraded and doubled and so they’ve just spend the last few years turning the main highway into a dirt road so that they can rebuild it. Never mind doing small sections at a time. The whole 500 Plus km has been torn up and as a consequence the bus averaged 30 km/h and was extremely bumpy. It was cheap (about 25 dollars) but we’re not sure if it was worth it. Add to this that the guys that worked on and around the bus, about 5 of them. Decided that they’d try to make a fast buck from us and charge us for loading the bikes. Luckily the scam was slow to spread around them so they loaded our gear before trying to charge us. We insisted that we didn’t have dollars, only a few lari (the georgia currency). I always only carry a small amount of cash in my wallet for just such reasons and so as each one took his turn in trying a different excuse for why we should give them 20 dollars I was able to show a nearly empty wallet and so they gave up. It was a kind of half hearted rip off though. They never really enforced it and so we never paid. A weaker traveller may have gone for it but we’ve seen this junk before and told them where to go. I get the impression that this kind of thing is everywhere in azerbaijan and it is a competing force with the hospitality of teh locals. The bus journey was made great by meeting a local guy on the bus that spoke a bit of english and wanted to practice with us and so kind of adopted us. He took us for a meal at one of the many stops along the road (azerbaijani barbeque is delicious) and handed us fruit whenever he had any. A really great guy and saved our first encounter with the people of this country from being negative.

Baku itself is nothing like the rest of azerbaijan. The oil money flowing into the country sems to have solely effected Baku and as a result there is an emense amount of new development here. The old town is pretty much still entact and is a welcome break from the streets full of gucci and burrberry stores. The prices can get ridiculous here if you’re not careful where you buy and its reputed that you can pay upto 15 manat (equivalent to 15euros or 25 dollars) for a pot of tea. I however have discovered (much to Nic’s disgust) that great oily kebabs can be bought from small shop windows next to designer fashion stores for under 2 manat. The fruit here is also relatively cheap and so that makes Nic happy.
At the moment she seems to have caught a milder version of what I got in Georgia. She never seems to get as sick as I do but if she gets sick then it takes ages to shake. This is not good as I can’t imagine that having a stomache bug is the thing that you want to have as you head to india. Or maybe the curry will clear it up.
Speaking of food. Azeri food seems much more influenced by the turks and so kebabs are everywhere. We’re yet to see much more but have a few days to sample some more. We were still really impressed with Georgian food and actually found it much cheaper to eat at restaurants there than buying groceries and cooking ourselves. We’ve noticed that while canned food or pre-prepared sauces are the cheaper options at home they are teh really expensive and posh versions over here. Thats not good when you are camp cooking on the road s we can’t take loads of fresh vegies with us and paying 7dollars for a tiny bottle of pasta sause or 4.50 for a small can of tuna is a bit silly. Still we’re managing and with a new bit of the world about to hit we’ll have to learn all new ways again and get used to that.
Things are also coming along for the trip through the himalaya with our future guide Surendra in constant contact to try to make sure that things run smoothly in Kathmandu.
Also on of my friends from Uni, Cam will be joining us for the weeks from Kathmandu to Lhasa and it’ll be great to have someone else to share that part of the journey with.
We’ll also have to pick up some extra cold weather gear in Kathmandu as the average nightly temps in the mountains drop below 0 in November and there will be snow along the path. Yay for snow.
Anyway time to go bt will add more when we get to Delhi on Tuesday.

Tc