Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Central Asia: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Azerbaijan

Central Asia has been our most ambitious trip to date. It was 25 days covering thousands of miles by automobile, bus, train and air in countries with culture, history and language we knew little to nothing about. Judy and I have both blogged about it, her much more than me. She has completed the Herculean task of 65 blog posts in sequence, over a period of 9 1/2 months, covering virtually every aspect of our trip. My posts jump around with no hint of a timeline, hitting my primary interests of food, religion and wildlife. This post is intended as a summary of the entire trip, tying it all together, with links to each of our blog posts. 

I had been interested in visiting the "Stans" for a number of years. I'd looked at the offerings by MIR and others. We'd taken several vacations with Fun For Less Tours ("FFL"), which offers great tours for good value, and I'd asked Michael Wilcox, their most popular tour leader, during a tour of the Holy Land, if FFL would ever consider a tour in the Stans. He told me that the owners were considering such a tour and suggested that I call Jim Tyndall, but I never did. Then out of the blue, some friends of ours came home from a FFL trip and told us that FFL was offering a Silk Road Tour to the Stans that they were offering to the participants on that trip and others of their best customers, and were not going to offer it openly on their website. Our friends signed us up, as well as their son and daughter-in-law, also friends of ours. This was in November 2015, almost two years before the trip was to take place.

I'd been talking to one of my partners, John, about a trip to the Stans and he'd expressed interest. So I shared this trip with him and he and his wife, Susan, were interested. So eight of us, four couples, signed up. We put down a deposit in December 2015 and then paid for the trip over 18 months, beginning in January 2016, with equal monthly installments. This was by far the most we'd ever spent on a vacation. 

We decided to add on three days at the end of our trip with FFL, which was ending in Turkmenistan, by visiting nearby Azerbaijan for three days, before returning home. John and Susan decided to join us on that extension and we obtained our flights together. 

LAX to Hong Kong
On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, we left Redlands, California about 9:00 p.m. for LAX in a one-way rental car with John and Susan. This was much cheaper than parking a car at LAX. Early Wednesday morning we took an American Airlines flight at 1:55 a.m. to Hong Kong. The flight was 15 and 1/4 hours and Hong King was 15 hours ahead of California, so we did not arrive in Hong Kong at Chek Lap Kok Airport until 8:10 a.m. Thursday morning. We had a 6 and 1/2 hour layover in Honk Kong, so we took a taxi to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car and visited the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) at the top. We also ate at Hung's Delicacies in the Hong Kong Airport, rated the world's best airport restaurant by CNN.
     Traveling the Silk Road  (Judy)

Xian, China
We left Hong Kong at 2:35 p.m. on China Eastern Airlines for a 2 hour and 35 minute flight to Xian (actually Xianyang), China, arriving at 5:35 p.m. We took a very long taxi ride from the airport to the Wyndham Grand Hotel in Qujiang New District, passing through some very gritty areas and marveling at the pollution. The hotel was gorgeous, one of the nicer hotels we've ever stayed in (see Judy's post for the next day). We connected with our tour group and had a nice dinner at the hotel.
     China: Arriving in Xi'an and Visiting the Terracotta Warriors  (Judy)
     Buffet at the Wyndham Grand Hotel - Xian, China  (Bob)

Friday morning, September 29, we went to see the Terracotta Warriors (see Judy's prior post). We got an early start, about 7:30 a.m., and arrived before the masses for a much better view. Afterwards we visited the Wild Goose Pagoda, then spent several hours walking around the Qujiang New District, the wealthiest area of Xian. That evening we visited the Tang Dynasty Dinner and Cultural Show.
     Xi'an, China: The Great Wild Goose Pagoda  (Judy)
     Xi'an, China: Sleeping, Eating, and Strolling in Xi'an  (Judy)
     Food of the Tang Dynasty Show - Xian, China  (Bob)

Dunhuang, China
Saturday morning we took a flight from Xian to Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. In Dunhuang we visited the "Singing Sand Dunes," starting with an amazing ride on two-hump Bactrian camels up through the sand dunes, then we hiked up to the top of a very large sand dune and ran back down. We were transported to the Grand Sun Hotel for the night. We skipped our tour dinner and got our guide to take us to a restaurant where we had an amazing meal of donkey and camel, one of the more fun dinners we've had.
     Dunhuang, China: Riding Camels in the Gobi Desert  (Judy)
     Bactrian Camel  (Bob)
     Dunhuang, China: The Gobi Desert Sand Dunes  (Judy)
     Dunhuang, China: Eating Out, the Night Market, and the Sun Grand Hotel  (Judy)
     Donkey Meat - Dunhuang  (Bob)
     Camel Hump and Hoof - Dunhuang  (Bob)

Sunday morning we took buses out to Yadan National Geologic Park, about 110 miles northwest of Dunhuang, which we toured by bus, then visited a very old section of the Great Wall of China and Jade Gate Pass, an important spot on the Silk Road. We skipped our tour group dinner and had our guide take us to the night market where we had street barbecue (Judy covered this in a prior post).
     Dunhuang, China: Yardang National Geopark  (Judy)
     China: the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty and the Jade Gate  (Judy)
     Night Market - Dunhuang, Gansu, China  (Bob)
Monday we visited the Mogao Grottoes, a Buddhist conclave outside Dunhuang.
     Dunhuang, China: the Mogao Caves  (Judy)

Turpan, China
Afterwards we took a high speed train to Turpan, Xinjiang, China. We stayed at the Shuang Cheng Hotel and had a buffet dinner outside highlighted by a roasted whole lamb.
     Turpan, China   (Judy)

Tuesday, October 3, we visited Gaochang, the ruins of the walled capital of the Uighurs, then drove into the colorful Flaming Mountains. After lunch at the Mahmut Grape Music Manor, where we had a wonderful sampling of area fruits and nuts, we visited the ruins of Jiaohe City, then to Grape Valley where we learned about the Karez Irrigation Tunnels. Toward evening we visited Emin Minaret and then had a group dinner at a restaurant with lots of Chinese dancing. 
     Turpan, China: the Taklamakan Desert and the Ancient City of Gaochang  (Judy)
     Turpan Raisins  (Bob)
     Turpan, China: Flaming Mountains and Lunch  (Judy)
     Turpan, China: Jiaohe Ruins (aka Yar City) and Karez Canals  (Judy)
     Hami Melon  (Bob)
     Turpan, China: Emin Minaret and Dinner  (Judy)
     Emin Minaret - Turpan, China  (Bob)

Urumqi, China
Wednesday we left Turpan on buses and drove three hours to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Province. We visited the Xinjiang Regional Museum which has quite a few old mummies preserved by the desert heat and sand, then had 45 minutes at the Grand Bazaar, where we bought horse meat, before heading to the airport for a flight to Kazakhstan.
     On the Bus from Turpan to Urumqi, China: Learning What Makes the Chinese, Chinese  (Judy)
     Chinese Tea Leaf Eggs  (Bob)
     Urumqi, China: Xinjiang Regional Museum  (Judy)
     Urumqi, China: the Grand Bazaar and Diwopu International Airport  (Judy)
     Packaged Horse Meat - Urumqi, China  (Bob)

Almaty, Kazakhstan
We flew from Urumqi, China to Almaty, Kazakhstan and transferred from the airport to the Royal Tulip Hotel, a very beautiful, Dutch owned, hotel.
     Almaty, Kazakhstan: the Royal Tulip Hotel and Republic Square  (Judy)

Thursday, October 5, we drove into the Tian Shan Mountains, the day after the first snow storm of the year, and visited the Medeu Skating Rink. Then we drove back into Almaty and visited Republic Square, then took a tram to the top of Kok Tobe Hill where we had a marvelous lunch at Abay Restaurant, which included horse sausage. After lunch we visited the Zenkov Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the nearby Panfilov Park War Memorial. Late in the afternoon we boarded our Silk Road Train that would take us through the five Stan countries.
     Almaty, Kazakhstan: the Medeu Skating Rink and Kok Tobe Hill  (Judy)
     Snow Leopard  (Bob)
     Abay Restaurant - Almaty, Kazakhstan  (Bob)
     Besbarmak - Kazakh Horse and Lamb Dish  (Bob)
     Kazy - Kazakh Horse Sausage  (Bob)
     Shuzhuk - Horse Sausage  (Bob)
     Almaty, Kazakhstan: the Ascension Cathedral (aka Zenkov Cathedral)  (Judy)
     Almaty, Kazakhstan: Panfilov Park War Memorial and the Silk Road Express Train  (Judy)
     Traveling on the Orient Silk Road Express Train  (Judy)

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
After a night on the train, we rolled into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Friday morning. A schedule in the train indicates we traveled 575 miles, but this appears to be a mistake, as by car, the route is 141 miles. We drove into the beautiful snow-covered Ala-Too Mountains in Ala Archa National Park and took a hike in the snow along the Ala-Archa River. On the way back out of the mountains, before reaching Bishkek, we stopped to take a look at a local cemetery. In Bishkek we enjoyed a meal with musical and dancing entertainment and had a short walking tour of downtown. Then back to the train.
     Kyrgyzstan: Ala-Too Mountain Drive (Tian Shan Mountain Range)  (Judy)
     Snow Leopard  (Bob)
     Eurasian Red Squirrel  (Bob)
     Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: a Muslim Cemetery  (Judy)
     Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: a Meal and a Walking Tour of the City  (Judy)
     Meal - Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan  (Bob)

Tashkent, Uzbekistan
During the night we traveled over 300 miles to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We passed from Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan early in the evening and then into Uzbekistan about 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. At each border we had to go through border patrol for the country we were leaving as well as for the country we were entering. The final border crossing took four hours, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. In Tashkent we visited the Earthquake Memorial (remembering the 1966 earthquake that destroyed the city), Independence Square, the Mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shoshi, Hazrat Imam Mosque, Madrasa of Barak-Khan, Hast Imam Museum, and finally, an amazing performance by the National Academy of Traditional Uzbek Musical Instruments at the Tashkent Philharmonic Hall.
     Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan  (Judy)
     Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Earthquakes, Wars, and Close Encounters with the Locals  (Judy)
     Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Hast Imam Square and a Mausoleum, a Mosque, a Museum, and More Encounters with the Locals  (Judy)
     Laughing Dove - Uzbekistan  (Bob)
     Eurasian Collard Dove - Uzbekistan  (Bob)
     Tashkent, Uzbekistan: a Performance by the National Academy of Traditional Uzbek Musical Instruments  (Judy)

Uzbek Outback: Kamashi, Katta Langar and Shahrisabz
During the night our train traveled 266 miles into the Uzbek countryside for a stop outside the tiny village of Kamashi. Sunday morning we were transported by buses to the home of an 82 year old woman who has 12 children and 47 great-grandchildren and saw rural Uzbeki life, from cooking bread, to a marriage ceremony and dealing with babies and dancing. Then our group was split up into a caravan of private vehicles that drove up the Kashkadarya River Valley to Katta Langar, on the slopes of the Hissar Range. There we visited a dilapidated 500 year old mosque and had an opportunity to wander among the locals and see the local village, one of the highlights of the trip for me. Back to the train, in the same manner we left, we traveled to Kitab, the nearest station to Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Timur. It was 35 miles by car, but much longer by train (the buses that transported us in Kamashi beat us to Kitab where they picked us up - I'm not sure why we didn't just stay on the buses). In Shahrisabz we visited Kok Gumbaz Mosque, built by Ulugh Beg, the grandson of Timur; the Dorut Tilavat Mausoleum and Jahongir and Omar Sheikh Mausoleum, where two of Timur's sons were interred; and the ruins of Ak-Saray, Timur's summer palace. Dinner was provided on tables set out next to our train while we got a lecture on Timur by Michael Wilcox.
     Kamashi, Uzbekistan, Part 1: Frida Kahlo Meets Fred Astaire  (Judy)
     Common Myna  (Bob)
     Kamashi, Uzbekistan, Part 2: a Mountain Drive to the Katta Langar Mosque  (Judy)
     Katta Langar Mosque - Uzbekistan  (Bob)
     Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan: Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Dorut Tilavat Mausoleum, and the Jahongir-Omar Sheikh Mausoleum  (Judy)
     Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan: Ak-Saray Palace and Amir Timur  (Judy)

Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Our train ride through the night to Samarkand was only 85 miles. When we arrived Monday morning we took small bags with us for a two night stay at the nicely located Registan Plaza Hotel. We visited the 15th century Observatory of Ulugh Beg and a forgettable museum, followed by a nice lunch at Istiqlol. In the afternoon we visited the remarkable Mausoleum of Shah-i-Zinda, one of the top sites of our trip, briefly visited Registan Square, for a night picture, then checked into our hotel. That evening we skipped the tour dinner at the hotel and took a taxi to Bar BQ, a restaurant recommended by our guide, Julia. This was one of the very fun meals of our trip. Afterwards it was lovely to spend a night in a bed, instead of the ironing board-like train bench we sleep on.
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Ulugh Beg's Observatory  (Judy)
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Shakhi Zinda Mausoleum  (Judy) 
     Necropolis of Shah-i-Zinda - Samarkand  (Bob)
     Bar BQ - Samarkand, Uzbekistan  (Bob)

Tuesday morning we visited the incomparable Registan Square, one of the greatest squares in the world, followed by a visit to Gur Emir, the Mausoleum of Timur. Lunch was a large group affair at the Samarkand Restaurant, followed by a silk carpet factory tour and a tour of a place that made paper out of mulberry bark. That evening we had an excruciatingly long and ordinary group dinner at Hobour ApSane which fueled an increased determination to avoid group meals and go out on our own.
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Magnificent Registan Square  (Judy)
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Gur-E-Amir, aka the Amir Timur Mausoleum  (Judy)
     Gur Emir Mausoleum of Timur - Samarkand  (Bob)
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Lunch, Silk Carpets and Meros Paper Factory  (Judy)
     Hobour ApSane - Samarkand, Uzbekistan  (Bob)

Wednesday morning we had some free-time. Judy and I walked back over to Registan Square, perhaps a half mile walk. It was so fun to wander on our own, look in shop windows, and then to see the Square when it was much less crowded. We bought a beautiful pottery plate. We had lunch back at the hotel, then boarded buses and visited the Bibi-Khanym Mosque and an outdoor market right next to it where I bought some gnarly dried fish, that was very, very fishy, and had to be restrained by Judy from buying a large shuzhuk (horse sausage) which I regret not buying. Our final stop in Samarkand was the Mausoleum of St. Daniel, a surprising destination in this Muslim-dominated land. Then back to the train for our overnight journey.
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Sleeping, Walking, Shopping, and Eating  (Judy)
     Russian Black-Billed Magpie  (Bob)
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Bibi-Khanym Mosque  (Judy)
     Samarkand, Uzbekistan: St. Daniel's Mausoleum  (Judy)
Khujand, Tajikistan
We traveled 196 miles through the night to Khujand, Tajikistan. Thursday morning we were welcomed by a small band and girls in native costumes holding round bread smothered in honey. The bread in Central Asia was not very good unless you got it immediately from the oven. We started with a very loooong visit to the Museum of Archaeology (I did love marble mosaic murals of Alexander the Great they had on some downstairs walls). I bailed out and walked part of the neighborhood. Afterwards we stopped to view a monument along the Syr River, then a quick visit to Victory Field, with a huge statue of Lenin and tributes to Soviet war heroes. Then to a huge statue of Ismoil Somoni, who governed the Saminid Empire from 892 to 907 AD and is considered the father of the Tajik nation. Finally, the only stop in Tajikistan that I really enjoyed, the Panjshanbe Market, the biggest bazaar in Tajikistan: lots of fruits and vegetables, hanging meat, bread, nuts, grain, clothing and other items. Finally, we visited the Arbob Cultural Palace which is where the Tajik's declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1992. We were back on the train for lunch and later dinner, as we had to push 479 miles to Urgench, Uzbekistan, the train station 35 miles from Khiva, our next destination.
     Kjujand, Tajikistan: Part 1, Around Town and the Citadel Museum  (Judy)
     Tajik Non Bread  (Bob)
     Kjujand, Tajikistan: Part 2, Monuments to Lenin and Somoni  (Judy)
     Khujand, Tajikistan: A Market (the 99%) and a Palace (the 1%)  (Judy)

Khiva, Uzbekistan 
Friday morning we were bused to Khiva, a city walled by mud brick. A beautiful old city with winding walkways and old buildings. Judy noted the great shopping, particularly for fur hats. Among other places we visited, we saw the Kalta Minor Minaret, the Islam Khoja Minaret (which Judy climbed), Tashauli Palace, and Khiva Djuma (Friday) Mosque. We were bused back to Urgench and resumed our train journey.
     Khiva, Uzbekistan  (Judy)
     Qibla Tozabog - Khiva, Uzbekistan  (Bob)

Bukhara, Uzbekistan 
During the night the train covered 261 miles, arriving in Bukhara in the morning. Saturday morning we loaded up a personal bag to take onto a bus to spend a night at the Asia Bukhara Hotel. Our first stop was the Grand Mosque, Po-i-Kalyan, a complex that included the Mir Arab Madrasa, a minaret and a mosque. We had another carpet demonstration, then checked in to the hotel and then had time to view the shops. We had a nice lunch at Minzifa Restaurant, recommended to us by hotel staff, eschewing the hotel lunch given to the rest of our tour group. Before dinner, that evening, we had a culture show, including dancing, which was followed by dinner for our tour group. We previously arranged to be picked up by taxi and went to our own dinner, at the same restaurant we ate lunch at.
     Bukhara, Uzbekistan: the Grand Mosque  (Judy)
     Bukhara, Uzbekistan: Shopping Heaven  (Judy)

Sunday morning we had a little walking tour in town, then bused to the Ark Citadel, a fortress build in the 5th century AD. We saw the Bolo Haouz Mosque and then bused to the Samanid Mausoleum, right next to an amusement park, the final resting place of Ismail Samoni, who founded the Samanid Dynasty. Then to the Chor Minor Mosque with four distinctive minarets.  On our way out of Bukhara we visited the Sitorai Mokhi Khosa, a summer palace of the Emir of Bukhara, and the Memorial Complex of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi, a Sufi theologian, a pilgrimage site. His tomb has a piece of the black kaabah stone from Mecca in it. Then back to our train.
     Bukhara, Uzbekistan: Monuments, Mosques, and Mausoleums  (Judy)
     Bukhara, Uzbekistan: the Royal Palace, a Sufi Temple and Mausoleum, and Leaving Uzbekistan  (Judy)

Mary and Merv, Turkmenistan 
During the night we traveled 232 miles by train to Mary, a modern city in Turkmenistan. Monday morning we got off the train and on to buses for the ancient city of Merv, the third largest city in the world around 1200 AD, which was destroyed by the son of Genghis Khan who killed about one million people. We visited the Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, the Erk Kala Citadel, the Greater Kyz Kala (fort), and the Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zeyd. We got back to Mary and got on the train again for Ashgabat, another 219 miles.
     Mary and Merv, Turkmenistan  (Judy)

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 
Monday evening we got off the train for the last time and were bused to our jaw-dropping five star hotel, the Yyldyz in Ashgabat. Tuesday morning we got on buses and visited the Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex. It was ginormous and nobody else was there. This was just the beginning of Ashgabat crazy. Then we were bused out to the ancient (250 BC) city of Nisa, ten miles southwest of Ashgabat and very near the border with Iran. We walked the impressive ruins in a little bit of rain and a biting wind. Then we were off to Gypjak, the birthplace of Turkmenistan's first president after declaring emancipation from the Soviet Union: Saparmurat Niyazov. The Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, the largest mosque in Turkmenistan is named after the first president and he is interred in a mausoleum next door to it. It was huge and beautiful, but virtually no one else was there.  We drove into downtown, full of white marble buildings, and visited a number of monuments that were bazaar, the most incredible one being the monument to a book, the Ruhnama, written by President Niyazov. Then the guide on our bus, one of three, based on our comments about not seeing where normal people lived, directed the bus driver to take us into a residential section of Ashgabat to visit the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, a mosque that actually had people visiting and worshiping. It was a nice contrast. Finally, all three buses converged on a reception center where we had a final meal for our group, along with native dancers. Back to our hotel for a very early wake-up. We were leaving our big tourist group with a 3:30 a.m. flight to Baku, Azerbaijan.
     Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Some Background Information and our Glamorous Hotel  (Judy)
     Yyldyz Hotel Buffet - Ashgabat, Turkmenistan  (Bob) 
     Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: the Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex  (Judy)
     Turkmenistan Ghost Towns: Ancient Nisa and Modern Downtown Ashgabat  (Judy)
     Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Two Mosques  (Judy)
     Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque - Ashgabat  (Bob)
     Ertugrul Gazi Mosque - Ashgabat, Turkmenistan  (Bob)
     Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Monuments to Independence, a Wedding, and a Monument to Ego  (Judy)

Baku, Azerbaijan
We arrived in Baku about 4:05 a.m. with our friends John and Susan. We were met at the airport by our guide, Yalchin Mammadov, of Gobustan Private Tours, and the driver of our Mercedes Vito Van. We visited Yanardag, a place where natural gas seeps out of the ground and it is perpetually on fire. A good place to go in the dark. We checked into the JW Marriott Absheron Baku and dropped our bags, then went for breakfast at Anadolu Restaurant where I had khash, a dish of boiled sheep's feet. Afterwards we drove to Shirvan National Park, a drive of about 100 kilometers (90 minutes) southwest of Baku toward Iran. We spent several hours driving in Shirvan ere primarily wanting to see the goitered gazelle, which was almost extinct in Azerbaijain in 1961, and now numbers 5,000 to 7,000. Afterwards, we drove back toward Baku and intended to take dirt roads to Gobustan State Reserve and see mud volcanoes. However, recent rains made the dirt roads impassable, so we visited Gobustan National Park which has very old petroglyphs. Back toward Baku we visited Bibi-Heybat Mosque and the Mausoleum of Bibi Hakima. Then we visited the Seki Restaurant where I had piti, an Azeri soup that includes the tail of a fat-tailed sheep. We ended the night by a night visit to the Flaming Towers and got back to the hotel exhausted and ready for a nights sleep.
     Azerbaijan: Land of Fire  (Judy)
     Khash - Broth of Boiled Sheep Feet  (Bob)
     Azerbaijan: Two National Parks - Shirvan and Gobustan  (Judy)
     Goitered or Persian Gazelle  (Bob)
     Azerbaijan: Bibi-Heybat Mosque, Juma Mosque of Shamakhi, Juma Mosque of Baku  (Judy)
     Bibi-Heybat Mosque - Baku, Azerbaijan  (Bob)
     Seki Restaurant - Baku, Azerbaijan  (Bob)

Thursday we spent the entire day in the vicinity of Baku. For breakfast we walked to Mado Cafe which had a French bent, including pastries. Yalchin met us there and then we visited the Ateshgah Fire Temple; the Yasil Bazaar, where we tried motal cheese; Old Town, including the Shirvanshah's Palace and the Juma Mosque.  For dinner we went to Nakhish in Baku.
     Mado Cafe - Baku  (Bob)
     Baku, Azerbaijan: Sites Around Town  (Judy)
     Azeri Cheese: Motal Pendiri and Taza Pendir  (Bob)
     Baku, Azerbaijan: Art and Architecture  (Judy)

Lahic, Azerbaijan
Friday, October 20, we drove outside of Baku to the northwest. We visited the Juma Mosque in Shamakhi, then continued on to Lahic, about 115 miles from Baku. To get there we drove through some beautiful steep canyons and the leaves were starting to change colors. Lahic is known for its copper wares and we stopped in several shops, including one where a man showed us how copper plates were made. It was off-season in Lahic and we were about the only people there. On our drive back to Baku we stopped for dinner in a large tent resting on a brick platform. We had some nice grilled lamb, among other things. Our guide dropped us off at the Sheraton Baku Airport about 9:00 p.m. where we got 2 or 3 hours of sleep before we had to get up again.
     Juma Mosque - Shamakhi, Azerbaijan  (Bob)
     Lahic, Azerbaijan  (Judy)
     Azeri Countryside Meal - Azerbaijan  (Bob) 

Baku, Doha, then Los Angeles
Saturday morning, October 21, we had a flight out of Baku at 3:30 a.m. We had a flight of 2 hours and 50 minutes on Qatar Airways to Doha, Qatar, and then had a layover of 1 hour and 35 minutes. We continued on Qatar Airways for 16 hours until arriving in Los Angeles at 2:05 p.m.
     Going Home (Finally): Baku, Azerbaijan, to Los Angeles, California, via Doha, Qatar  (Judy)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, pulling it all together like this is impressive. What a great resource!