Just a few photos from the last week of The Rhoute, to cheer up those of you who are a little teary-eyed today, the last day of this perilous journey.
Yes, there’s been a veritable flurry of updates over the last hour – courtesy of the first decent internet connection this side of the Caspian! I did actually hear rumours of a decent spot in Seki last night although the place was inhabited by rabid thirteen-year-olds, so I gave them a good ol’ glare and headed on to the town square to sit and sip tea with the old folk.
So – scroll down and read what’s REALLY been going on when my expressions have not been limited to a small Nokia mobile phone screen.
And where might this pinnacle of electronic civilisation be, I hear you ask? Well, I’m here in the charming town of Zaqatala, which sounds as if it should be somewhere in the south of Mexico, but is, in fact, located just shy of the Georgian border here in the Azeri Caucasus.
Not much really going on in town – there’s the structural ghost of an old Russian orthodox church, plane trees supposedly planted over 700 years ago (since when were old trees guidebook-worthy?) and a few new, clean, sparkling mosques. BUT there is a Turkish pide restaurant, so we will have none of that tasteless sorpa nonsense tonight, thank you.
Tomorrow I’m off into the land of cheese pies and Georgian wine of questionable quality. Azerbaijan has been good to me – people here have been incredibly tolerant of my bad Russian, largely because nobody here actually speaks it any better than I do. The scraps of my Kyrgyz/Uzbek are helpful in bantering with the guys in the ice cream shops, but I don’t think I’ll be having too many in-depth conversations with a lexicon of around 9 words.
Highlight of the day was the trip from Seki to Zaqatala where I was befriended by an Imam.
“Don’t go to Armenia” he warned. “They are Christians. They fought many people in Karabakh.”
Despite my almost total lack of spoken Russian, I gathered that this chap was not entirely all there. He was adamant that I understood what he was saying about Allah being good and saving us all – but I couldn’t really engage in a noteworthy conversation. Kind of like the French exchange partner who opens the door to Jehovah’s Witnesses who keep him chatting in a one-way conversation for an hour or two.
So that was fun.
Anyway – enough of all that. More photos are up for your amusement.
Off up a mountain again, this time in the charming little town of Kochkor, somewhere south of Bishkek. It’s halfway up a ridiculously high mountain, as is seemingly obligatory in this country – but makes for some fantastic hikes and horse treks, which normally involve muttony yurts and a dearth of personal hygiene.
I’ll likely be offline for the next few days as I sup more fermented mare’s milk, so time for a few more photos:
Photos from Kazakhstan to come… but here are a few snaps from the last few days here in Kyrgyzstan.
It’s hard to know how much I’ll be able to update this blog once I finally make my peace with China and begin the long schlep across the continent.
I imagine there will be some days where locating internet cafes will be pretty challenging – and others when I may well have found a knackered PC in someone’s front room, only to be greeted with a power blackout for hours on end.
Then, of course, there’s dealing with pictures – loading up photos to various websites, plugging cords in cameras here and there – just all round general hassle. But I read blogs too and know full well that pictures make all the difference – a real snapshot to accompany the VIVID images evoked in these pages…
Thankfully blogging is far easier these days than it was back in the day and I can find fantastic images to add some colour to proceedings. Picasa normally comes up with the goods – so if I’m too tired/busy/lazy to add any of my own snaps, you might as well enjoy those of other people… such as these below!