It was the second day of my arrival in Azerbaijan… first I was to go to Gabala.. and then from there to Sheki, stay there and come back to Baku the next day. This was my second-day plan……. So it was almost two o’clock. Now I am in Gabala….
The main attraction of Gabala is the snow mountain activities but I didn’t stay long in Gabala as I went in summer and it was a time when there were not many tourists… He turned straight to Shekik…. The road from Gabali to Shekiel is very beautiful with Caucasian mountains on both sides and a valley in the middle of it and a road parallel to it. Its roads and villages can be seen…lots of meadows and valleys on the way where cows, horses, donkeys, and sheep are grazing…it passes through some areas known as the Switzerland of Azerbaijan…I was surprised that the car was going at a speed of 170+ kmph and that too on a two-lane road. Even in Dubai, I have never driven at 160+ kmph.
There are two main things that we feel while traveling in Azerbaijan, one is the speed is much faster than in our country and Dubai, where people drive, and the other is that music is like an addiction to them. It is not only in the car, but wherever we go, we can listen to this music, why artists are singing even in the street. After traveling about a hundred kilometers, the car reached Sheki in two hours.
There are buses from Baku International Bus Terminal to Gapala from 8 am to 10 am… Pre-bookable ticket is around 400 rupees. But because I was tired from the previous day’s journey, I could not take the bus at 8 am and I had told at the last party that I took a shared taxi at the insistence of some drivers…
In front of the international bus terminal we can see many cars going to many places from there we can get a car to go to the main parts of Azerbaijan like Ganja, Gabala, Quba, Apsara… Most of the cars go with 4 to 5 people and all the cars are Benz….. One of its benefits is that you can travel by car for the same money as the bus… I reached Sheki by five o’clock after seeing the beautiful roads and views… By the time I got there, everyone started looking at me. Because it’s a rural area and all the people there are white and I didn’t see a single tourist there, maybe because all the tourists go to the direct destination through the travel agency that I can’t see.
I had originally planned the place to go in Shek and I wanted to go to an amusement park-like place called “Kanland”….Kanland is situated in an uninhabited forest that is near the Russian border. The specialty here is that you can get an online taxi…
Centuries ago, Sheki was a famous stop on the Silk Route. It was a city about 2700 years ago. So when I was looking at the different sights in Sheki, a car stopped. Two young men there saw me and curiously asked them where I was going. But everything they talk to me is in Russian, I don’t know Russian, but I somehow understood things using google Translate. Russian is a prominent language in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani and Russian are the two main languages used there. So they will let me go, so I went with them. while going in the car they kept taking videos of me to show their friends, speaking Russian with me, and taking selfies….. By that time it was almost seven o’clock and still, it wasn’t dark here, the sun sets only after half past eight until 9 o’clock in the night. There are beautiful roads with small roads and streams along them and beyond that big mountain and small houses in the valley between the mountain and the stream.
There are many resorts and activities to see when you go to Kanland. So when they reached the place, they bid me farewell and left. I handed them Rs.200. They bought that too and said that they can come if they call for time to go back and they left him. They knew I was coming because I had already called and booked Khanland. When I reached there, everyone gathered and received me and many of the people who were there started asking about my country as if it was a miracle. None of them said that I am a Pakistani or a Dubai or an Omani in their guesses and beyond this India. When they said India, they said Hindustani.
There are many activities in Khanland, mostly during the winter season. Another main attraction here is the zip line, where you hang on a rope across a river that flows between two mountains. I went with great excitement, but when I saw the sight of that place, I felt very scared. Because it was my first time riding the zip line… so spent some time there. Anyway, there are sights to see and take photos for about five hours… and there are many other activities like off-road horse riding, but I have to go back and since it was almost 8 o’clock, I went back there to see many other places…. Even then the sun has not set.
So from there, I went to the UNESCO heritage-listed Palace of Khan Lek.
This one palace built-in 1797 is known as the Summer Palace of the King of Sheki under the Russian Empire… When I arrived there it was past eight o’clock, so the visitor’s time was over… So I took photos and videos around the palace and left by about ten o’clock. The Sheki Palace is located on top of a hill surrounded by beautiful village lanes. Until the 19th century, this area was under Russian rule. But after that, it came under Azerbaijan, although most of the people in that part were of Russian origin.
So I came back to the town and walked to the bus stand but by 10 pm there was nothing special to say about its nightlife the crowd was less and fewer people but I didn’t get to see the nightlife as I saw in Baku…..even though I had booked a room at Shakey….. 12 pm from Shakey By slicing the fact that there is an o’clock bus to Baku, sleeping on that bus which arrives at around 7 in the morning and thinking that in the morning I can go to the hostel where I stayed yesterday and be fresh, I can save as much time as sleeping.
So when I reached the bus stand, a man took me by the hand and called me at first, I didn’t understand, he called me Muhammad. When my name was mentioned, I immediately understood. He is a taxi driver who came here in the morning… He was a middle-aged man but he was a very friendly person. On the way, he bought tea and snacks for the passengers in the car including me… So the man told me that if he is going to Baku, he will leave now and if I want, I can go with him. ..so we left at 11 o’clock at night with another traveler….on the way we stopped at a shop and bought beer. And when I say that it is a special thing here, beer and liquor are available in all supermarkets and small shops in Azerbaijan. They offered me a beer but I said no and slept in the car.
So by four o’clock in the morning, the car arrived in front of the Baku International Bus Stand. So it was the third day of arrival in Azerbaijan. My plan that day was to go to a village called Kuba which is far away from the city… The first bus to Kuba leaves at 8 am… So I still had a lot of time so I went to the hostel and freshened up and booked an online taxi to see one of the wonders of Azerbaijan, Mud Spitting Mountain. ….. after traveling about 10 km from the city I reached the bottom of that mud spewing volcano. can’t call it a volcano here instead of fire and lava is mud…this phenomenon is due to the mud that comes out from underground with a mixture of minerals, water, and air. …. Since it was summer, the mountain was in an inactive state with all the mud congealed, therefore, there is no tourist or anyone there, it is a deserted place.
I can see only a few villages and mountains, and there is no one nearby, so I climbed a steep mountain for about one kilometer… Usually, off-road vehicles go to the top of this mountain. Reaching the top of the mountain, the view seen from the top of the mountain is another level, the beauty is so indescribable that on one side, the sun is rising through the Caucasus Mountains, and on the other side, Baku City, and on the other side, a village with small houses crowded at the foot of the mountain.
So from there I took a lot of videos and photos and started walking towards the foothills of the hill… I looked on google map and it was only about two kilometers to reach the next road…so I walked through the houses and through the verandah of some houses to save distance I reached the road….but By that time it was 7:30 and I had to take the 8 o’clock bus, so I booked an online taxi and went back to the bus stand from there. By 7:55 I reached Bestin. The bus seat to go to Cuba is full. So I asked one of the officers there about a bus to Cuba using Google Translate anyway. The guy told me to wait there for an hour so I waited for an hour and during that waiting time, I saw a lot of sights and sat there.