Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Most people haven't even heard of Nagorno-Karabakh but thought it would be nice to see & it has beautiful scenery!!!

Took a short trip to Nagorno-Karabakh a country (with close ties to Armenia) as it broke away from Akzerbiajan & is actually still in conflict with Azerbiajan

So decided that I’d rather go to Nagorno-Karabakh than Azerbiajan! So if I go to Nagorno-Karabakh and don’t get a piece of paper with my visa stamped on it but have it put in my passport than I can’t enter Azerbaijan! But since I didn’t want to wait 4 or 5 days for an Azerbaijan visa in Georgia well decided to take a short trip to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is strange in the Caucacus as it’s a country recognized by no one! It is Armenian culture inside the borders of Azerbaijin. The name is even something of a mystery as it is made up from words of 3 different languages together. NAGORNO means mountainous in Russian, KARA means black in Turkish. While BAKH means garden in Persian. Then to make things more confusing the locals refer to the region as Arsakh.

There may be many questions about Nagorno-Karabakh and it’s political status, but the beauty and culture-richness of this remote mountain landscape is undeniable. You can find hundreds of moss covered churches and monasteries up steep cliffs, wedged into narrow valleys and hidden in remote forests. Most are abandoned but a few are being renovated and re-opened.

The war of early 1990’s left deep scars across the landscape but the people are slowly rebuilding their country. But travel here is still an adventure involving some bad roads, special permits and military occupied no go zones.

I took a marshruska (mini bus) ride from Yerevan over mountains and hairpin curves in a misty rain to get to Stepanakert, the capital city of 50,000. We had to stop at the Nagorno-Karabakh border so foreigners, like me, can get our names registered in a book. We then go to the Ministery of Foreign Affairs when we get to Stepanakert & pay $15 for a visa and a piece of paper. We then return this paper at the border crossing when we leave Nagorno-Karabakh.

I don’r know why but I kept getting confused (well more than normal) and lost in Stepanakert, which isn’t that big, while I never did in Yerevan a city of 1.5 million. Go figure!!! I was looking for a guest house homestay in the city from a map & couldn’t find it, but the map & street names (if they have them marked) don’t seem to match! So thought piss on it and took this more upscale hotel which was only about $3 more but got fed up with looking! Then I also had trouble finding the Ministery of Finance but finally found it!

Hell after that I went to check out Stepanakert and saw it all in 1 hr! But did see the President's House and a nice stairs with the country's main football stadium at the bottom of the hill!

I spent one day taking a marshruska to this small village called Shushi (they called it sushi so thought hell maybe I'll eat some sushi there ha ha wishful thinking). Have to say that Karabakh had the shittiest selection of food to eat (at least I couldn't find any good food) of all places I've been on this trip except maybe Mali! But check out the awesome view landscape I got to hike over and see!

I was walking down the highway part of the way so didn't have to cross a creek/river when I see this tank on the hill! Guess it was a memorial to the tanks that came in and bombed the shit out of Shushi! So of course I climbed up to check it out and continued climbing up and over the hill!

Really enjoyed the hiking through the hills and valleys but the hiking wasn't that difficult! I didn't want to get into too hairy terrain cus I was hiking by myself in a foreign country. However it got frustrating cus would climb down a hill only to find that there was a wide creek or stream to cross. So would have to back track and try another route!

Here's the village of Shushi which was kind of bombed a lot by Azerbiajin during the war of independence by Nagorno-Karabakh!

Here's a couple of examples of a typical Soviet influence (as you might notice in my blog that I find how the Soviet influence on their occupied countries interesting!). The non descript building below is an shop Soviet style! When you enter the store it has the merchandise behind the counter (a very limited selection it seems) and another counter to pay! I found these stores very bland and basic as most things built during the Soviet times! Also the outdoor square (in the pic below) and a meeting house building are supposedly typical in the center of most Soviet villages.

The picture of the gorge in the following pics was deceiving cus it was very deep with a river gushing down it quite loudly! I was tempted to hike down and follow it but used some common sense (for a change) as I was hiking alone in case I ran into some problems

Took some pics of the old village and the war destroyed by the war with Azerbiajan.

Check out the nice hotel I got in Stepenakert for $11 dam I'm getting spoiled as compared to some of the shit holes I've stayed in! But don't care as long as the prices is right!

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