Sunday, May 20, 2007

Azerbaijan: The Land Of Fire, Oil and Caviar

Imagine seeing fire coming out of the sea 5000 years ago! What would your reaction be? Its no surprise to me that people started praying to fire, before Islam, Christianity or Judaism were around. Fast forward a few millennium and humans discover it was oil coming out of the sea. This country supplied half of the world’s oil in the early1900’s. People became rich over night and many billionaires were created. These Billionaires build mansions and many monuments, which can rival any kings’ palaces. This sudden wealth attracted the Russians and later the Soviets.
The Soviets came and wrecked havoc and destroyed many monuments during the USSR period. The environmental disaster they left behind is on catastrophic scale and can still felt and seen clearly today. The war they had with Russia and Armenia in the late 1980’s and 1990’s has left them licking their wounds, but beside all this you can still and feel the great potential they have with the great oil wealth which hasn’t been fully utilized.
The silk route passed through Baku, the capital and the only cosmopolitan city in Azerbaijan. This old city was destroyed time and again by various invaders and only small parts of it survived. This part of town, and its surrounding area which includes the parliament, many old mansions and buildings form Baku’s golden era are truly charming and worth a visit.
The people, although, they are technically European seemed to me 100% Middle Eastern in mannerism, looks and attitude. They appeared to be a mix between the Persians and Turks, however, they associate themselves with the Turks due to the language similarities and the common interest they have against Armenia. The Azeris even adopted the new alphabet and grammar that was introduced by the Turkish leader Ataturk, who abandoned the Arabic script to distance Turkey from Islam and the Middle East. They major difference with Turkey is that they are religious, the majority of them are shia, and they do not have an Islamic phobia like Turkey does. The country is safe and the people are very helpful, but are a bit cold.
The area outsides of Baku are small towns and villages and although modern facilities are available, they lack any source of entertainment or luxury. Only Azeri restaurants are found and they serve a very limited menu which are mainly kebabs or ‘lule’ kebabs, which are yummy. Their fruits and vegetables are amazing and very tasty since they are natural and they are not genetic modification, don’t use pesticide or any other chemicals and preservatives.
The scenery around Azerbaijan beautiful, except for the abandoned mammoth factories left by the Soviets. The mountain peaks are covered by snow, while rivers cross most towns and villages we visited and most areas are covered by a blanket of green vegetation. Unlike what I had in mind, the country is safe and the people are very helpful, but are a bit cold. Although, you can see the Soviet influence in the building towns the Azeri influence is more predominate. However, if you’ve seen Turkey and Iran before, Azerbaijan won’t make a great impression on you.


Per Your Request said...

Liked the last picture.

Madhatter said...

Hi great blog u have here, love all the pics. I am a South African livin in Oman and all i can say Oman is truly beautiful, was a bit disappointed that u neva showed more pics of ur trip to South Africa.
How do u manage to travel so much and work at the same time, how many days leave do u get?

ColOman said...

Per Your Request,

Thanks, the little village seems stuck in the 1400's if it wasn't for the satellite dishes they have.


Not you too. Everyone we know keeps asking us the same question, how many days of leave do we get. Even my brother and Dad ask this all the time. We get 30 working days as holiday. It’s very simple if you want to make the most of your holiday.

If you have an official holiday on Tuesday, we take Sunday and Monday as leave and we also take Wednesday and Thursday as leave. That comes to be 8 full days of vacation but we have taken 4days leave from work :)

Do that 9 -10 times a year and you are set to see the world. I know I make sound easy but I put a lot of time into research, reading and checking the internet for reviews, good hotels and things to do before visiting a country.

Most people like to sit in one place and do things they have done before, we try new things all the time. Trust me it only gets better every time.

By they way your country was amazing and so were the people. We loved it.

Madhatter said...

Im glad u loved it, im from Cape Town to b specific. Being doing some camping and diving in Oman, beautiful.
I would like to travel thru the middle east especially counties like Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine. I have a wife and baby, any suggestions or any gud tips
Oh yes u neva answered my other question, wer all the pics of SA

ColOman said...

100% without any question I would say go to Yemen, if you want to see something very different.

The summer is the best time as its nice and cool. Jordan is also nice if your going to see Perta.

S.A. hmmm I got over 1000? I can't post them? Send me your email and send some.

Jawahir Jewels said...

i like reading ur blog... its interesting and factual ... and heheh i do the same in splitting th eholidays and combining them ...

mad hatter how long u been in oman ... coz in a while u'll probably learn to do that .....

lovey post on the land of fire oil and caviar

ColOman said...

I glad there are people who like my posts and think its worth reading.