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Day 139 – Excitement in Baku
December 8th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories,Azerbaijan
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I got arrested in Baku today for taking the follow two photos:

National museum of art, Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan

No great big deal, but after taking the photos, a nearby police officer waved me over and explained that I was not allowed to take photos where we were. It turns out that behind me about 600m away was the parliament buildings or something. Even when I explained that I would delete the photos, the officer would not allow me to leave until I went to the parliament buildings to have my details taken, and for me to make an explaination.

The rediculous thing is that it is totally clear from the photos that I am not taking photos of the parliament buildings. I took a photo of the National Art Museum (the top photo) and a photo of the street adjacent to it (the photo below). The unreasonable nature of the police officer really got under my skin.


I have found out today however that Baku has some very nice old buildings. Funny place this. You have people that drive like Iranians, haggle like Turks, but still often look central Asian. Then you have the Eastern European architecture.

Some more photos. These ones I think are legal. But as I found out today, you never know…

Buildings in Baku, Azerbaijan

Internet cafe in Baku, Azerbaijan

   permalinko   comments (17)

Comment by Murdo — December 8, 2006 @ 6:20 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob,

Wow…sounds like you are much relieved to be back to some sort of normality – you’ve done the hard bit from how it sounds. Hope the weather is kind to you. Nasty fever you had there by the sounds of it!

Comment by Rob Thomson — December 8, 2006 @ 6:28 pm | post a comment

Murdo, it was just as well that I had the fever when I did. Better than in the middle of nowhere.

Comment by Rich — December 8, 2006 @ 6:51 pm | post a comment


Hope they didn’t scare the hell out of you. I had similar encounter while in Jammu, Indian Kashmir, where a Secret Service came to my hotel and tried to get me out of there. Apparently, I wasn’t allowed to stay there;))). Read here: http://drogpatravel.blogspot.com/2006/08/jammu-escapades.html

Comment by Aunty Jenny — December 8, 2006 @ 7:47 pm | post a comment

You just don’t realise how dangerous it is to be foreign sometimes!!! Cool Architecture though.

Comment by Rob Thomson — December 8, 2006 @ 8:15 pm | post a comment

Rich, I remember that episode in your blog well. Never knew there existed such hotels in India…the police didn’t scare me much though. The issue was so preposterious!

Comment by Aunty Les — December 10, 2006 @ 5:06 am | post a comment

I wonder why the police were concerned re your ‘taking’ photos of the parliament buildings? Perhaps your appearance makes you look like a terrorist who’s about to plan to blow up aforementioned buildings!

Comment by Lindsay — December 10, 2006 @ 5:27 am | post a comment

Hi there Robert.

Really impressed with what you have done to date. You are an awesome dud! LOve the Vid cam amazed at how clear and steady the “drive round was ” . Look forward to the book, the motion picture and your return …one day….

Kind REgards

Uncle Lindsay

Comment by satoshi — December 10, 2006 @ 5:34 am | post a comment

hi Rob,

I won a brand new Meks carbon suspension front fork for the recumbents – the same model as yours – for 137.50 USD (plus shipping to Australia which was around 50 USD) on e-bay which is good as the retail price is something around 280USD!! I still don’t know what commercial recumbent model i will be inspired from but yeah those parts will let me choose the frame design from some known brand models.

Hate cops and customs officers eh? There is a general rule – when you see an ofcicial with no guns you better walk on the other side of the road trying to look as local as you can. When you see the officials with guns on their belt then do the same but try to avoid eye contact and if you can turn back and go around the block. When you see an official with a weapon hanging from his shoulder perhaps it’s a bit too late to do the above so just walk straight without eye contact and hope that he wouldn’t stop you. When you see an official with his weapon pointing at you and he is shouting at you you can either pretend to be mentally retarded or lie on the ground with your hand over your head. The last thing you want is to show the gesture you don’t undestand it because he will do his best to get the message through. Anyway no matter how corrupt they are show some respect to the officials and try to patronise em by shaking hands greatfully and ask for help like asking them directions and so on rather than “huh? fines? fees? i am a foreigner!!” They can and will shoot your brains out if you annoy em too much. You can bullshit a faux official paper that you are a copper back in kiwiland or something. It’s the “if you hate em join em” tactic and it seems to work. Ah it’s just a suggestion and I can’t be responsible for the outcome but perhaps is worth a try if you have been constantly harrassed by them.

Awesome, almost Europe!!


Comment by stefano — December 10, 2006 @ 7:26 am | post a comment

Hi, Rob!
I discovered your incredible adventure on bike only five days ago on FLICKR website! U have all my (psy)support as I’m a supporter of HPV & bike travelling. I dream to got a recumbent as soon as possible (in Italy, at moment, they aren’t yet appreciate).
I live near Florence, I teach in a secondary school and I’ve invited my pupils (11-14 years old) to follow your blog (I’m sure that your exemple is the better way to encourage they to travel and experience the world in a simply&cheap way).
Keep in touch!

Comment by Dad — December 10, 2006 @ 7:31 am | post a comment

I am just back from my first two weeks in the desert and have caught up with all your adventures. I am glad you are into some sort of civilisation but I do wish you would stop upsetting those poor policemen. It must be hard for them having to deal with scruffy tourists travelling on velocipedes and looking like they want to steal the parliment buildings. Have you thought about hanging a sign around your neck with words like “I am scruffy but harmless?”

The idea that someone mentioned of having some water in a bottle in your sleeping bag overnight is good. You do not want to be caught out again with everything frozen and unable to get liquid into you! The symptoms you described are very serious and there is a very small margin between being able to talk about the experience and not when it comes to dehydration.
I am sure you are well aware of that mate but take care!

We leave Australia by the end of this week and are looking forward to being back home.

Comment by Tim — December 10, 2006 @ 5:32 pm | post a comment

So how many arrests is that now? I havn’t been keeping count.

Comment by Aunty Jenny — December 11, 2006 @ 8:44 am | post a comment

Yep Rob, it’s definitely the beard! Lil told you, you looked like a terrorist! The beard will just have to go!! Actually, that will probably look really strange, as your face under the beard won’t be as tanned as the rest.

Comment by Rob Thomson — December 11, 2006 @ 6:10 pm | post a comment

Aunty Les, I think most governments in the world are a little skittery after all this terrorist goings on in the world.

Comment by Joeru — December 12, 2006 @ 9:34 am | post a comment

In the immortal words of Judas Priest, “Breaking the law! Breaking the law!”

Comment by Rob Thomson — December 23, 2006 @ 7:58 pm | post a comment

Stephano, thank you for dropping by. By all means I hope your students get something out of this site. When you’re ready to plan your big trip, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Hope I can be of assistance!

Comment by Rob Thomson — December 23, 2006 @ 8:00 pm | post a comment

Uncle Lindsay, thanks for the encouragement. At the moment I’m just concentrating on getting through winter!

Comment by 14degrees.org — April 22, 2011 @ 8:01 pm | post a comment

Www 14degrees.. Great idea :)

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