2019-05-16 Day 231 Thu

Met Ingo at the entrance at 10. He paid our tickets to the museum and site. A great museum deigned by and built by Latvians. A little small though for the number of tourists. Amazing how fast the tour guides push them through. Just showing them one little thing in each room. I personally found the guides very rude, they would push in front while you were reading and block you from the article. 

A further small drive up to the large rocks to the carvings.  Quite a large site.

A very rough drive the back way to the mud volcano, we past this area where oil was just seeping from the ground

Igor was very disappointed as cars had driven everywhere and destroyed the overflow patterns. But quiet impressive with them being cold. Not used to that.

These guys were standing on the highway selling little white rabbits!!


Next a Drive to the park, The road here was a little better than the road north.
The Park which Igor paid our entry for for two days as we can stay here tonight. We traveled slowly to the lake and saw a lot of Goitered Gazelle’s. Mainly just single or two at a time. In winter they form larger groups for security from the grey wolves. Now they have mostly vacated the tourist section to be alone for the birth of their young.

We had a lunch on the roof top of a viewing area by the lake. Only saw a few bird flying around. 
Next a slow drive to the mud volcanoes. Saw some turtles and plover, more gazelles and one snake recently run over. When we got to the volcano they spotted a snake - a viper. The guide was very worried about us.
 We had received permission to camp here by the sea shore but not to travel at night and beware snakes etc. etc.
We however did put our boots on to walk up to the mud volcanoes. Great spot and oly a few other old foot prints. Nice to see it so untouched.

Despite being threatened of a visit by the security guard during the night we had a quiet night.
A lovely cool breeze off the Caspian. The gauge read 36 today.

2019-05-15 Day 230 Wed

 A local had seen our website while we were tussling with traffic yesterday and had been in touch with John by Instagram. He dropped by this morning and chatted to us for an hour, until he was forced to turn up at his office at Siemens. 
He recommended a place for lunch which we took his advice on and had a great traditional lunch in a traditional feeling restaurant.
With a park in the old city were these neat signs Indicating toilets. And these cute hipo's at the fountain.

Next we wondered around the old city and had a look around the palace. We didn’t feel the need to have a look at the display on torture pieces used in the inquisition. One of the pieces in the palace museum which I had not seen before was a mustache keeper. It was worn in bed to keep ones mustache “shaped”.
While in the crypt and trying to take a panorama a couple of school girls entered giggling, so I waited to finish then a guy with ladder and security guard entered, then a whole group of kids came in and accosted us practising their English, it was quite funny. 
Finally leaving the chaotic traffic we headed south back to the quiet, peaceful existence. Very few places to camp and those available just this dry cracked friable soil. A camp towards the Caspian, We picked our way through the broken glass and pieces of wire to the edge of the erosion.

Foiled again! Not so peaceful; a helicopter was flying a circuit passing overhead every 7 minutes!!. He was still going when we went to bed. We have a few mosquitoes and bugs or the first time in ages.
A lot of lights from all the oil platforms out in the Caspian

2019-05-14 Day 229 Tue

A fisherman - or at least a guy waiting on the fishermen to come back in - stopped by in his trusty rusty ute. He also stayed a while and wanted photos taken. Very friendly but hard to communicate with.
Finally the boats came back ashore and he left.


Arriving in Baku we were amazed at the architecture some very modern artistic buildings and some very flash old ones. 
We went to Mitsubishi service first with the light bulb in hand (high low beam) and yes they did have the part. A$6 each so we bought 2. A customer had good english and translated for us then as we were leaving an American came up he was an English teacher with his own business and family here. He was interested in our travels.
Next the Turkmenistan embassy Johns visa has his year of birth wrong. Parked across an entrance way, I remained in EC while John went down the alley to see if it could be changed. He came back saying it is not a problem just an administrative error and not to worry. Well we tried.
Next to UPS and the combustion fan for the stove. Well all those chores done quickly and easily. Next to find a camp for tonight so after dinner we can high tail it back to a pre selected spot. No go. Saw a carpark near the old city and the ferris wheel but didn’t want that. The foreshore is covered with oil rigs and nodding donkeys with just grey soil/silt The hill above town just grey soil and messy. The beach to the north a possibility but messy.


 A car Load of chooks!

On the way back we detoured to the hill on fire. But I was very disappointed. Construction of a new tourist restaurant and amphitheater was taking place which detracted from the whole atmosphere. They will be catering to bus loads I guess.
Checked on overlander for the second time in two years and yes the car park is available over night. Back to the carpark paid our $4 for the nights parked in the corner had a quick wash got into town clothes and caught a taxi arriving at the restaurant 10 mins early just as Ingo did. 
Paul’s Baku is owned by a German and Igor's friends, 3 other Germans joined us, one a pilot and the others from the German embassy. I paid for our dinner which caused a bit of upset.
Ingo was keen to show us a mud volcano and the rock art on Thursday, then a picnic lunch at a park. Sounds great.
A great night with very good steak. The best we have had in a long while. A lovely evening. 
Took another taxi/car back “home” 


2019-05-13 Day 228 Mon

The herders passed with their stock with a wave, but one guy with his sheep and donkey stopped for a chat. And a long chat it was. He stayed for at least half an hour and we tried to communicate. He had lost his wife a few years ago, she is buried in the cemetery just up the hill and has 3 small children. He was very interested in the vehicle.
Although we often leave camp around 11am we still get 8 hours of driving in as the sun sets around 20:00hrs.
It gives us time for the paper work and photos and blog or at least occasionally it is enough time.
The last village around the corner with a new bridge being built, and once we had found the track across the wide river bed we were on a sealed road. 
It had been a great track, but very slow and bouncy.

This Truck was probably looking OK until the load slid off the back!!

We headed north to the Caspian coast near Khudat. Here, parked on the beach close to the water, we had a roll-up for lunch and rotated the tires. As the last tire was being fitted the thunderstorm hit. We sheltered inside for a while then when the rain had stopped we finished the job. It only takes about one hour to rotate them and we know it is done right and the wheel nuts will be removable!!!

John had a quick dip in the Caspian.
I just got up to my knees still a bit cold.

Some police drove passed and back again we said hi and invited them to have a look at the vehicle. They were there obviously to see what we were up to. But all good. They drove off.

A slow trip down the freeway. The left lane was good but the right had big dips in it, and lumpy repairs so although trucks are supposed to stay in right hand lane they were in and out of the left lane. But when you came up behind them they move over just as I did when a car came up behind me.

One town we came through had many many statues of Grecian urns, teapots, lamps, goats on rocks, men on horses, all manner of things, we are still puzzled..

John found us a nice camp on the coast by Suraaabad. There is a new road and large bridge being built here (tuned out to be Ingo's project).