Published: April 13th 2007April 13th 2007
Took us at least a couple of hours to cross into Azerbaijan, I noticed the border guards in the Georgian side are very busy eating sunflowers seeds, seems to preoccupy them so much we zipped through their side without a hitch, In the Azeri side a little more stricter and I thnik one of us has to have a physical check up at the border, i believe our co driver Toni volunteered but i haven't asked him of the outcome, soon as we crossed over we noticed a lot more progress in the Azeri side, the oil must really a bliss for the economy, whereas Georgia my impression is life is really hard, it's a struggle to make a living the economy is still struggling since the independence from the Soviets.
We were supposed to stay at a caravanserai in Sheki but apparently they couldn't hold our reservation so we bush camped at the outskirts of town and it was a gorgeous view, locals and their herds of sheep and cow stop by to say hello, it was a peaceful first bush camping for us except for Nigel who was terrified of the wolf he heard during the night,
FIRST BUSH CAMP
SCENERY NEAR SEKHI
I was fast asleep so I didn't hear nothing. The tents we are using are a bit different from the last time I did this type of trip, less spacious but it works for the purpose it was made for, I am tenting with Geoff.
AZERBAIJAN: is bordered by the Russian Federation, Georgia and Iran. The country is divided by the Republic of Armenia into a smaller western part in the Lesser Caucasus and a larger eastern part, stretching from the Greater Caucasus to the Mugan, Mili and Shirvan Steppes and bordered by the Caspian Sea in the east. Due mainly to the presence of international oil companies, the standard of accommodation is changing rapidly and there are now at least two 5-star hotels. Within Baku, the medieval walled city - Icheri Sheker - has been restored and it retains a distinctly Middle-Eastern and relaxed atmosphere, with its tea-houses and busy street-life. Its attractive narrow streets and stone buildings spread up from the waterfront, where the 12th-century Maiden's Tower (Gyz-Galasy) looks out over the bay. Azerbaijani food combines Turkish, Georgian and central Asian elements with lamb as the staple dish. If dining with a local host, visitors should be
aware that going to restaurants is treated as much as an opportunity for competitive toasting as to eat and talk. Many restaurants, late-night bars and English-style pubs have opened in Baku, catering largely for the foreign business community and wealthy local business people.
Azerbaijan - a nation with a Turkic and majority-Muslim population - regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a 1994 cease-fire, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh enclave (largely Armenian populated). Azerbaijan has lost 16% of its territory and must support some 571,000 internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict. Corruption is ubiquitous and the promise of widespread wealth from Azerbaijan's undeveloped petroleum resources remains largely unfulfilled.
Azerbaijan's number one export is oil. Azerbaijan's oil production declined through 1997 but has registered an increase every year since. Negotiation of production-sharing arrangements (PSAs) with foreign firms, which have thus far committed $60 billion to long-term oilfield development, should generate the funds needed to spur future industrial development. Oil production under the first of these PSAs, with the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, began in November 1997. Azerbaijan shares all the formidable problems of
the former Soviet republics in making the transition from a command to a market economy, but its considerable energy resources brighten its long-term prospects. Baku has only recently begun making progress on economic reform, and old economic ties and structures are slowly being replaced. One obstacle to economic progress is the need for stepped up foreign investment in the non-energy sector. A second obstacle is the continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics is declining in importance while trade is building with Turkey and the nations of Europe. Long-term prospects will depend on world oil prices, the location of new pipelines in the region, and Azerbaijan's ability to manage its oil wealth.
is located 380km (236 miles) west of Baku close to the Georgian border. Archaeological evidence suggests that the city may be one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus, dating back 2500 years. Tourists can still visit the 18th-century frescoed summer palace and the fortress built by a local warlord who declared Shekhi the capital of an independent khanate. Shekhi was famed for its silk, which is still produced locally, and the bazaars
and caravanserais testify to its importance as a trading town. Some of the caravanserais have been restored and now function as hotels and restaurants.
(Persian كاروانسرا, Turkish: kervansaray) was a roadside inn where travellers could rest and recover from the day's journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and South-Eastern Europe.
Most typically it was a building with a square or rectangular walled exterior, with a single portal wide enough to permit large or heavily laden beasts such as camels to enter. The courtyard was almost always open to the sky, and the inside walls of the enclosure were outfitted with a number of identical stalls, bays, niches, or chambers to accommodate merchants and their servants, animals, and merchandise.Caravanserais provided water for human and animal consumption, washing, and ritual ablutions. Sometimes they even had elaborate baths. They also kept fodder for animals and had shops for travellers where they could acquire new supplies. In addition, there could be shops where merchants could dispose of some of their goods.
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