Half hearted in Central Asia – Part 1

Enjoy this guest post from our friend, Angelica of Tweaked and Untitled

I flew to Turkey with only the secondhand understanding that the country would be awesome. Half Korean back-up plans: WWOOF & hanging out on the Mediterranean coast while figuring out that whole what-the-fuck-to-do-with-my-life thing. Met this great person named Sami in Istanbul and fell pretty hard for him. He invited me to join him crossing the Asian continent overland and it’s been a sweet love story ever since.

Well, that’s how I ended up in muthafuckin’ Uzbekistan and nothing says “I love you” more than having someone overhear your explosive diarrhea due to another lethal dose of bloody shashlyk. My bootleg ass is chilling in a former Soviet Republic and not the Italian Riviera; you’ll have to abandon the imagery of a traditional romantic getaway and start plugging into the reality of second world countries. More on that jazz later, let’s start where my busted ass left off.

First things first; Azerbaijan. As the traveler grapevine revealed, the best place to load up on all the visas into Central Asia was the capital of Baku and I can only describe my time in that gaudy city as something like a sick reality TV show. Imagine a shitty week of desperately searching for obscurely located embassies, filling out forms in different languages, running to the bank to pay the fees (in American dollars, bitches), passport pictures, and loads of other bureaucratic agonies. Throw in some scorching hot temperatures with the joy of dropping tons of extra $$$ for the privilege of being an American passport holder and I must say it wasn’t my favorite week.

Otherwise, Azerbaijan was an awkward country to visit and the only thing that I can really put my finger on about it all was the presence of oil money mixed with a history of Soviet occupation. Baku is much like Dubai / Singapore, a spectacle of wealthy pageantry; garishly fancy buildings and eerily spotless streets. Just some pretty shallow facades with zero amounts of soul? With prices are comparable to Western Europe and the occasional Aston Martin to remind me of my $20 per day budget, sometimes you gotta just say fuck this place and move on.

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