Thursday June 30/Friday July 1 - So Rasim picked me up a little early, at 4:30pm, and then we were away driving towards the petroglyphs. It was quite a ways away, just under an hour or so. On the way there we past some highly secured areas for BP, as they seem to do all the drilling here. There is oil everywhere. When we got there, we found it was closed. Such a bummer - I didn't even realize it would be a place that could close. I figured it was just some drawings in the rocks somewhere. Rasim talked to the guy and said we could come back a bit later and give him a small bribe to get in. So we headed off to the mud volcanoes. Very cool to see actually. Unlike the boiling mud pits of Iceland and New Zealand, this mud was not hot. And it formed cones of dried mud over time, resembling small volcanoes. Rasim said there is always gas coming up in them and that they are really active during earthquakes. He walked around the edge of the tallest one we had walked up, and I saw the edge moving. I thought he
was going to fall in. Scary. It was almost bouncy with the mud underneath. We walked around a bit and I took some pictures, and then we headed out. The road in and out is a dirt road and not a very good one, so it was slow and careful going.
We drove back to the petroglyph site and got in for like $8. By "in", I mean we were able to walk around the outside portion and see the old caves people used to live in and the drawings they made on the walls. The museum itself was well and truly closed, so I wasn't able to learn much about it specifically. But it was very cool to see. And since it was later, the sun was behind the rocks and it was much cooler, and quiet without anyone around. Very nice actually. My stomach started acting up - maybe I should have tried the yogurt drink earlier - and fortunately there was a toilet that I could use. Oh how I'm beginning to miss the normal initial travel constipation that comes with the first few days of all of my trips. So much easier to deal with
on the spur of the moment, because there is no spur of the moment.
On the way back to Baku we drove past active oil pumps in one area - so weird to see. Just like in the movies. It was after 8pm and we decided to head to the airport, even if it was a bit early for my 11:30pm flight. I was starting to get sleepy and he had already worked a full day. We drove back through Baku and I was really glad to see it by night. I don't go out a lot at night when I travel, for many reasons. Mostly I've been up and sight-seeing all day and I'm tired, but also because I have planning to do, or booking of a room, or writing the blog or organizing the pictures or a skype call home, or I'm not sure if it is safe. You get the idea. I figured Baku would be one of those places that was busy at night, and sure enough it was. The buildings were lit up, the Flame towers looked like they were on fire and people were starting to be everywhere on the Bulwar, the walkway by
the sea. Because earlier, there were only a few crazy nut jobs like me walking in the oh-so-hot-heat. I'm glad I had a chance to see it on my way out.
I said good bye to Rasim and went in to the airport. I found a place to sit and did some internetting before the time came to check in. At check-in, there was almost no line, so it went quickly. They have this little tiki booths, almost, set up for food and drinks. One of them had the names of cities and Basel was on it! Pretty cool. But they were cleaning it up, so I didn't get a picture. I sat nearby and waited for the flight. I could see the flight would not be full and was hoping that meant I would get my own two seats. Nope. For some reason I was at the window, next to someone. I put on my little eye shade and tried to sleep. All of a sudden I smelled food and dinner was coming. I did not expect that, for so many reasons. Let's look into them - random flight in Central Asia, flight is three hours long, flight
leaves at midnight. Why would there be a meal? And I am sick, so of course I didn't eat it. If you know me, you know that is a lie. Of course I ate it! It was too weird to pass up, and I have some sort of (no longer) secret love of airline food, and possibly an eating disorder, to eat with a bad belly. How could I let this opportunity go? Will I regret it? Of course. Was it worth it? I think so. Quite tasty, but maybe it's just because I've mostly been surviving on bread for a week.
After dinner I got up to go to the bathroom and had to ask the woman to move. She followed me to the bathroom, which gave me the idea to move seats. Half the airplane was empty. There was only one toilet, so when I got out and she got in, I grabbed my things and found a new seat. It was in the back, but who cares? Shame it wasn't a longer flight. It left at midnight, but that was already 2am where I was heading. We arrived at 5am, and there was barely any time
for sleeping or relaxing. No sleep for me tonight.
In Astana, Kazakhstan, I had a smooth passport check and then proceeded to my next gate. With a three hour layover. There was internet, but I couldn't get it to work. That reminds me. Today my new computer started acting funny. Or at least Chrome did. It just stopped working. In the Baku airport I even uninstalled and reinstalled it. Still nothing. Not sure what to do about that. I really only like that browser. Grrrr. Anyway, I found empty benches - they were almost all empty benches - and laid down for an hour or so. I had seen a sign that Astana was a silent airport, so there were no announcements for flights. I think that was true. There was a flight going to Almaty, my same destination, at 7am, two hours before my flight. A woman came running up to me before the flight left to see if I should be on it. Fair enough - no one was in the hall but me. I eventually go up to go to the bathroom, and yes, the airline food was a mistake.
The flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan,
was relatively short, and there was still a meal - a hot pocket type sandwich. And yes, I ate it. Later, I regretted it. When I exited the flight in Almaty, I found myself outside the airport quite quickly and wondered the domestic and international terminals are separate. I saw a sign for a shuttle bus and wasn't sure if I need this, but walked around the corner and found the doors in, so no worries. Once inside, I almost couldn't find the gate. It turns out there was only one for international flights, and it was not obvious. A much smaller airport than expected. But they had wifi. I had an hour before the flight to Tashkent and that flight was not so long either. And I went back in time an hour. Magic. (continued on Tashkent blog)
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