6000 miles from home: London to Baku, Azerbaijan

On the flight from London, they handed us very hot towels, which was awesome. I already felt scummy and it was a good start to wipe my face.

Everything felt five times more intense than my original trip to London. I kept saying to myself, “I’m over the North Sea, i’ve never been this far from home. I’m over the Black Sea. I’m over the Caspian Sea.”

The flight was so empty that most people lay across their seats like a bed. I tried to stay up for the entire flight because i knew i’d have to reset to another five-hour time difference, but ended up sleeping for a few hours, which really just made me groggy and gave me a neck crick.

They showed what may well be the BEST INFLIGHT MOVIE EVER. I think the name was “Fantomas,” but i can’t be sure. It was originally in French and then poorly translated (i could still hear the original dialog underneath the translated voices) into what i assume is Azerbaijani.

Did i say AWESOME? The villain looked like he’d dipped his head in lime-colored rubber and the police chief occasionally had three arms.

By the time i landed in Baku i was sleep-deprived and extremely nervous about language and customs and, i don’t know, being arrested for having purple hair or something.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t as bad as i’d worried, but i did have to run through four people and they took my passport for awhile and made me sit.

The Baku airport has smoke everywhere. Everyone smokes! As far as i can tell the airport is run by eight guys in grey suits with cellphones who rove around handing out boarding passes and pointing to gates.

Within an hour getting into Azerbaijan i saw not less than three men and one woman with entirely gold teeth. Entirely. Gold. Teeth. My camera battery died as soon as i left London, so i don’t have any pictures.

When i left again through the smokey airport, the pilot walked through the airport yelling, “Aktau! Aktau!”

Our plane died on the runway …


There was a lot of discussion, heated discussion, i didn’t track any of it … because it was all in Russian and possibly Azerbaijani. They sent a bus to bring us back to the airport while they got another plane.

Yes, this was kind of stressful and i briefly considered living in Baku forever or taking the train.

Once we did take off toward Aktau, they gave us onion-potato knishes, which sort of made everything okay.

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6 Responses

  1. Pati Nagle says:

    So, just curious – what made you choose Kazakhstan?


  2. Dave Raines says:

    спокойной ночи!

    Thanks for the travelogue, it's fun.


  3. Grá Linnaea says:

    Hi Pati,

    One of my best friends (and fellow Clarionmates) lives in Aktau and said i could crash in her place, so i'm checking it out. 🙂


  4. They still do that dubbing thing with the original soundtrack underneath!? That's hilarious, I assumed that practice would have died out by now.

    In '93 I watched the whole first season of Babylon Five like that in Poland. It was one deep-voiced guy reading the entire script with no intonation at all, like a robot, but if you turned the volume up REALLY loud, and anaesthetised your eardums by drinking gallons of vodka, you could just about follow it.

    Glad you go to Aktau in one piece 🙂


  5. Grá Linnaea says:

    Thanks, Scott. Whoa, Polish Babylon 5! o.O


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