Ok here we come! Next one from Things You didn’t Know Series is just revealing itself.
There is many facts like obsession with tea drinking, weird system of buying sim cards and many many others which most probably could make a list grow up to 20 Things but those are the ones that sticked in my memory the most.
I loved Azerbaijan. It is a truly spectacular country and I will try to show it to you in upcoming posts how beautiful this place is and how amazing people are but now lets talk about all those weird, quirky and plain funny facts! Maybe not all of those pictures are National Geographic standards but they are real examples from the road.
Interesting, funny and quirky facts about Azerbaijan.
1. Lada Land
Azerbaijan is a country of Lada! And you know I love Lada, specifically the old models. I love everything that has to do with transport and public transport. I know I’m weird! I’m not sure if it is some kind of sentiment for Soviet Union times but I find Lada quirky and so so cool! So Azerbaijan was like Lada Heaven for me. There were Ladas everywhere. In all colours and shapes.
2. Selfies Issue
Azeri people love taking pictures of themselves and love when you take pictures of them, especially men! Believe me Baku is one shooting scene. I went for a boat trip to watch Baku waterfront from the sea, but I was the only person looking at the cityscape! Locals were too busy with their cameras to pay attention! And that apply to everyone, at any time and situation! I actually should do separated post with all those photographies.
3. Yuma Signs (funny only for Polish people)
This one may be only funny for Polish people I’m afraid. So in Poland, long time ago some small time crocks were going to Germany for Yuma, meaning they went there to steal cars! Yes, we are not particularly proud of it but used to German people were quiet scared of coming to Poland with their cars and I’m not surprised about that. Luckily those times are long gone and Poland is doing super great at the moment. So when I saw this sign for a first time I have bursted with laugh! I was like: what?! You have road signs showing you where your car can be stolen?! But being serious, I have found out later that it means car wash but still funny, very funny for me.
4. Last kolkhoz on Earth?
Have you ever heard about ‘kolkhoz’? Yes, it is a collective farm from Soviet Union times. And you can visit one in Azerbaijan! Yes, it is still working and applying all the rules of collective community. Meaning that all the people work for the same salary. There is not private property, they share what they produce etc Not only it is super interesting and quirky but the place itself and the area are super beautiful. Ivanovka is definitely a place not to miss.
5. Beautiful contra real?
People in Azerbaijan are genuinely surprised when you are trying to take pictures of something ugly, unfinished or poor. Seriously they can’t understand why don’t you shoot nice and shiny new government buildings?! So I have been taking picture of those chickens in the metal box and a very nice older gentleman asked me why?! I told him that I have enough of nice and shiny constructions in Europe and that I’m looking for genuine and quirky. Either he thought I mixed up some words in my poor Russian or that I’m just weird.
6. Photography Issue
Generally Azerbaijan has a ‘photo issue’. They seems to struggle with deciding what is permitted to be photographed and what not. Oil fields is a NO, actually a big NO NO. Policeman and anything to do with Police such as cars, buildings and even traffic police is not a good idea. Can’t count how many times, some obsessed policeman called me to check if I didn’t take a picture of him only if I lifted my camera in 100m circle around him. And I’m not a suspicious person or a fan of conspiracy theories but why a ‘Man of Right and Law’ is so afraid that I will photograph him? I understand that mafia boss could get quiet upset about such thing but policeman?! Oh, I have some good idea! Maybe because he is slacking off whole day and afraid that one day his boss will see it on Facebook?
7. Land of Fire
Azerbaijan is called a ‘Land of Fire’. There are different explanations, and I actually find them all connected to each other. Zoroastrianism is a religion in which Fire Temples are the most important places of worship. It is said that Zoroastrianism which was predominant religion of Iran before Islam actually has it is origins in Azerbaijan (used to part of Persian Empire). Azerbaijan is a Persian name and actually mean ‘protector of fire’. But why fire? Maybe because gas is plentiful here. So plentiful that there are places where a natural gas fire blazes continuously for ages! Yes, I’m serious, look up Yanar Dag.
8. Oil? Oh, oil! We have plenty of that!
Ok, so now you know that Azerbaijan is very rich in gas, but it is even richer in oil. Now you think, some countries are just too lucky? Right?! You know Nobel brothers? They actually set up their Nobel Brothers Petroleum Company in Baku. So majority of their wealth is actually acquired in Azerbaijan.
9. Littering Issue
People litter to such extension that it is terrifying. On my ride from Qax to Zaqatala about 7 teenage boys throw their fizzy drink bottles through the window. Almost everyone do the same and when you mention it is not ok, they answer that there are people who will clean it up. When I have said couple of times that except Baku I have never seen anybody cleaning the streets they say that it will be taken care off when President will come to the region. Seriously?! I doubt. Azerbaijan is a beautiful country but everywhere you drive, sides of the road exhibit only rubbish! It is very sad! And please note, I’m not trying to pick up on Azerbaijan, whole region of Caucasus is facing this huge problem. That is why I’m putting a picture of plastic bottle on the grass instead of dog laying in garbage. I really loved Azerbaijan but this is something that really shocked me!
10. Watermelon Land
Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons, that goes without saying. But there is something very specific about they way how you should eat watermelon there. Always with a white cheese and bread! Yes, I really meant to write white cheese and bread…