Friday, 14 September 2007

Day 10 The worst country on the planet

As per usual it was an early start despite the hangovers of the previous night. We said our goodbyes to Louis and took note of his completely useless directions and left. As usual we were in a foreign city so we had to get completely and utterly lost but after a few stops for directions we were on the right road.

An Extremely unimpressed and un helpful Georgian women

We reached the Azerbaijan border at about 8.30, to find it wasn't open for another hour. While waiting, we witnessed an argument between two locals which resulted in one chasing the other round in circles with a knife. It was touch and go as to how it would end, fortunately no one got hurt. Also while we were waiting a British Mitsubishi Pagero rolled up with four guys who were travelling round the Caspian Sea. They had similar amazing tales to tell, they had spent the previous day at a race tracking with street racers from Tbilisi and one of them had crashed one of the local's cars.

The border soon opened and we left Georgia with not little trouble, it was the Azerbaijan border that caused us massive problems. They kept us waiting around for ages and then they took all 3 of the cars documents to process at once, of course it was immediately obvious that we were missing the correct V5 form. As I had been sitting in the small office there waiting for the offical to fill out the required forms, locals had been barging in to get themselves processed ahead of us. Some had the right documents, some didn't so they would bring cash or booze or both, so as soon as he refused us entry to the country I pulled out 20 dollars and slid it across the desk, he then wrote on his pad 40 and I had little choice put to agree. Several hours later and well into the sweltering mid afternoon we were through only to get a mile down the road and get stopped at a police check point. They took our documents up to their look out post, wrote our names in a book and then told us we had to pay road tax. We told them in no uncertain terms NO, took our documents and left.

There were police everywhere, they would hide in the shade of trees just before towns with speed guns, the limit changed as you entered the towns and you would no doubtedly be going too fast. Each of the 3 cars got pulled costing us a range between 5 and 20 dollars to escape without further trouble, sometimes you wouldn't

The roads were on the whole good, but we reached points where they were still under construction forcing us onto sandy tracks filled with large lorries, pot holes and ditches. The Pajero unfortunately hit a young calf which was attempting to cross the road, we didn't stop as we were in sight of a Police check point and there was no chance we were going get charged some trumped up charge.

We were out of money and had been borrowing off Go North, we had tried to pay with Dollars but no one excepted and we were running out of petrol fast. We reached a town with a bank and it had a cash machine outside. I went over and tried to use it, only to find that the keypad was electrified and everytime I press a button I would get shocked. My card was in so there was only one way to get it out and that was to keep pressing, the machine suddenly turned off and two security guards came out. They made it clear that we couldn't use the machine, I got my card back when it turned back on and we went inside to the counter. We tried to ask if they would take Mastercard or Maestro, they didn't and we were forced to borrow more money off Go North and exchange it which took a whole load of negotiating in itself.

Eventually we reached Baku around 10pm, the drive in again was terrible, completely lost and with bad roads and horrific drivers. We tried to stop at a 24 hour money exchange and again wouldn't take Mastercard despite having a sign for it.

We finally found the port after asking for directions with a picture of a boat with a car on drawn by Dan. We still managed to miss it several times, the only car and freight ferry in the major port of Baku has no signpostings and is down a dirty little side road.

There were guards there who found us a lovely bit of waste land on the waters edge where we could pitch our tents, how generous!!

1 comment:

Shane said...

Have you anything good to say? You're doing what thousands of people in the world would love to do, an exciting road trip across half the world and all you can do is bitch and moan about everything. Jesus, you bore me to death. The whole trip is wasted on the likes of you. It's as if you expect the entire world to run like a modern western democracy.

Cop on and open your eyes.