We leave Tbilisi, Georgis, on the over-night train to Baku, Azerbaijan. It is snowing.
We watch the snow fall in Georgia.
We cross the border and ride all night. In the morning, we see few trees.
Azerbaijan has oil and has been transformed by oil wealth.
In Baku, we see a mixture of the old and new.
Here is the Hilton Hotel. Lodging is expensive — we are in the Guest House Inn and Hotel, the best place for backpackers ($55/night).
We see fountains.
We walk past the museum — note the towers in the distance. Baku was modern architecture.
The most famous landmark in Baku is the Maiden Tower. The foundation was built in the 4-6th centuries with present walls built, perhaps, in the 12th century. Researchers do not agree about the function of this tower. It does not seem designed for military use but probably had astrological and religious functions — perhaps Zoroastrian. Ancient people here worshipped the sun and fire — and Baku has Paleolithic connections.
The tower has an ancient plumbing system.
Internal ceramic water pipes in the walls are connected to a well. The label “Maiden Tower” is relatively recent. It refers to folklore stories with many variations. A standard motif tells of a king who tried to force his daughter to marry a man she did not love. She delayed the marriage by demanding the construction of the tower — and was to be married after its completion. When it was completed, she climbed to the top and jumped to her death.
We see a hologram inside the tower illustrating an image of a sun god.
From the top of the tower, we look out at Baku and the Bay of Baku on the Caspian Sea.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 81):
“True words are not eloquent;
eloquent words are not true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point.
Men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.
The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
The happier he is.
The more he gives to others
the wealthier he is.
The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.”
This chapter completes Lao tsu’s Tao te Ching.
We came to Baku, hoping to get a freight ferry to Aktau, Kazakhstan, and the next blog will tell the story of this.