TRAVEL: Breathtakingly Beautiful BAKU (Azerbaijan)


The Caspian Sea in the background.

Blogger’s note: This entry was posted here on September 2009. I remember this vividly as the time when Typhoon Ondoy mercilessly wrought havoc all over Metro Manila. I was in my hotel room when I got a frantic sms from a very dear friend about the typhoon and I couldn’t stop crying, worried sick for my family and friends back home.

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I can go on and on an on about how beautiful Baku is but it probably won’t mean as much to you as when you’re actually here having a whiff of everything that makes Azerbaijan what it is to the Azeris and the rest of the world – an economic powerhouse which also boasts of a well-developed culture as a result of many influences.

There’s so much to see, feel, taste, and love in this place that I feel my tiny frame is not enough to soak in everything. I often tell people that I’m the type of person who’s daring enough to try just about anything once – and in small doses. But Azerbaijan is definitely something that I wouldn’t mind having inappropriately monstrous doses of.  Hello glutton!

Azure.

We spent Day Two getting indoctrinated on the unique Azeri culture, starting with a special visit to the resting place of Azerbaijan’s most loved and most respected former President Heydar Aliyev, also known as the ‘Father of Modern Azerbaijan’. It was one of the most surreal experiences for me, standing so close to the presence of a man so powerful and so passionate about elevating the stature of his mighty country and having many other countries look up to Azerbaijan as a role model.

Next, we paid our respects to the brave heroes of the January 20, 1990 Soviet aggression against Azerbaijan, known as the Red Terror (in Azerbaijan). The vicious attack took the lives of over 100 men, children and women not spared.

From there, we went to the International Mugham Center for a very special event. My head spun looking at so many beautiful faces in the room that I almost felt like a supermodel by proximity. It’s funny how someone else’s beauty can make you feel invisible and almost toe-to-toe pretty at the same time. If Azerbaijan is breathtakingly beautiful, its women are stunning and a half.

The Azerbaijan State Youth Symphony Orchestra

Just before the grand event ended, one of Azerbaijan’s cultural pride, the State Youth Symphonic Orchestra, performed for an hour which caused all my body hairs to stand on their roots and my eyes to well up with very little prodding. I have no words to describe how talented those kids were and how beautifully they performed. Perfection is the only word I can think of and sadly, I don’t think that would suffice.

I can almost say I love Azerbaijan as much as I love you. Yes, you.

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