It was almost midnight in Toretam and I (Marek) was waiting in the streets of this small desert steppe town for two guys that earlier in the day told us that they will help us with getting into the Baikonur city. Colorful lights of the closed shops reflected on the asphalt and all I could hear was train passing through in the far. I thought going out in the night will be my chance to cool down at least a little bit as in the guesthouse where Tiia was waiting for me it was just like in sauna. Except for few gusts of wind the heat felt just as much as in the hotel, and in the day…Continue Reading
“Ochem zharka, da?” friendly locals were asking us from time to time in the streets of Aralsk. “Da!” we smiled and waved back. Our shirts were sweaty and faces red, but the enthusiasm to explore the small port city in southwestern Kazakhstan won with the heat. Finally, after 4 intensive but long days in trucks going continuously for around 2500 km through the steppe, we were at our destination. At first glance the city seemed pretty empty, sand was everywhere, like waves trying to break into wooden houses. In small shops there were only a few products on the shelves making grocery shopping easy: bread, tomatoes and cheese. When we stopped under the shadow to have a break, out of nowhere a group of young curious boys surrounded us. We had a small chat, it turned out that they had a summer holiday and most of the day they went to the swimming pool to cool down. There’s no natural body of water nearby, in the past, this area faced one of the world’s worst man-made ecological catastrophes. It has left a once great Aral Sea dry, the land polluted, and the locals inundated with the diseases.Continue Reading
“Are the trucks going to Kazakhstan parked here?” Before we heard the answer, as always, group of truck drivers already gathered around us. They were going with another ferry, to Turkmenistan, trucks to Kazakhstan were parked in another place. No problem, it’s good to take a walk while waiting for the ferry which nobody really knows when will come (more about the sea route in another post).Continue Reading
Hitchhiking up north to Quba in Azerbaijan, on the right side of the road we saw blocks surrounded by a fence made of rusty runaway strips. There was something off about it, maybe how lonely they looked on the sandy steppe… On the way back we knew we had to check this place out. Unlike many abandoned/dark tourism or whatever-you’ll-call-it places, about this one we did not know anything before starting our travel. Probably because there’s hardly anything about it online.
For us couchsurfing is one of the best, if not the best social network platforms there are. Many times during our travel it’s thanks to this page, that we could really learn about local culture more and experience day to day life of people. Though experiences may be very various, and everyone who used it will know, in the end we loved it when hosting people in our small flat, and we love it here on the road. It’s obviously also a great way to save some money during the trip: cs profile as well as hosting is free (we don’t see any reason to pay for “verified” status), so if you did not do it yet you might as well give it a try!Continue Reading
The ferry doesn’t go from the Baku, but from the new port in Alat. It takes a little bit more than 1 hour via hitchhiking to get there, we got lucky since the driver took us to the very gate of the port. After crossing the whole place in the heat of the sun, we finally found the cargo container office. Here we could buy ourselves the bed place in the 4 berth cabin for “only” 70$ per person.
A flawlessly built Lada once again showed its strength on semi-desert roads of the Gobustan State Reserve. In the midst of the dusty sand fields here and there the oil platforms were glittering in our eyes. Under the hot sun a thermometer glued to car body pointed 40 degrees, searching for a breeze we rolled all the windows open. Soon the sauna-like heat was forgotten because only a few meters from us were one of the most unique nature’s wonders: the mud volcanoes.
During our stay in the municipality of Kazbegi we were told about a mysterious village called Tsdo – place, where only 5 families live, and in which an old pagan ritual of slaughtering the lambs takes place once a year. As if we would need even more encouragement to visit it, location of this place is quite unique. Settled up on the hill, it’s last village on the scenic Georgian Military Road (that would need another post itself) before the Russian border in Dariali. Sounding like a real rural and authentic area we had to experience it, see it with our own eyes.