Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Devil went down to Georgia...!

He so wanted to sit on Mike's bike...
You might have heard the song 'The Devil went down to Georgia' Ok, ok, the 'Georgia' referred to is the US state Georgia but let's not get too much into detail, shall we? Let's assume the devil actually went down to Georgia and made it, what would have happened to him? Would he still be there, and if so, where would we find him? Well, we think we did found him! He's done seemingly very well for himself and has created quite an offspring... From what we gather, his DNA can be found in every taxi, minibus and especially Mercedes driver in Georgia... the Georgia next to Russia that is :-)

The other phrase that sprung to mind, having been here for just 30 minutes is 'drive it like you stole it', which is probably true for most of the BMWs, Mercedes and Audis racing around here. The majority of the luxury saloons in Georgia came from Germany, with or without the previous owners' consent, and man do they get flogged. Add to that a traffic chaos which makes Sydney look like a retirement home in slow-motion and you'll get the gist of what we found. Madness with a capital M. Suicidal too.

The border formalities were pretty straight forward. After nothing but a passport check we were allowed to leave Turkey. Getting into Georgia meant another passport check, which was again just a formality and then the bike papers had to be checked. Mike was directed to one lane, while I was in another (as you can see in the video below). He found an uninterested officer who simply stamped his passport and entered his bike details, while I found a nice looking girl who was doing everything by the book... a book which did not list New Zealand or Australia...! She was very suspicious about my passport... even checked it against the light to see if it was a forgery...! Then the bike papers were scrutinised and checked against my rego plate... it all checked out, but she still wasn't fully convinced. I had to explain where I was going, so I said 'to Australia'. Wrong answer. She didn't know Australia existed... Azerbaijan? She said. Yes, I replied, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan... she looked at me in disbelief, checked my passport again and found the visas for Azerbaijan, Pakistan and China. Although still not fully convinced, she welcomed me to her country and gave me my passport and rego papers back.

In Georgia a Ford Transit, any Ford Transit, is lethal...
We plunged into the traffic madness, which is the only way to describe it. Imagine a giant ant-nest, where the ants all drive cars, buses, trucks etc. They come from anywhere and everywhere. There are no rules, driving on the wrong side of the road is normal and as soon as something happens which they don't like 50 car horns go off (i.e. they have no patience whatsoever). Most of the vehicles are old, or at least older, and diesels which smoke as bad as if they are running on crude oil. Some of them lay a smokescreen which is just pitch black. 

We had been told by several people that there are no campgrounds in Georgia. They're wrong. There is one! It can be found along the coastal route and is called Camping Zekari. According to the owner it's the only one in Georgia, owned and operated by a man from the Ukraine. We had hoped to get a bit further into Georgia on the first day but also realised that free camping would be a pretty much right in the open affair along the coast. The campground was under new ownership, which meant there are now two showers! We still had to share our campspot with the occasional free roaming cattle, but they were working on the fences too so that should soon be a thing of the past. We could pitch the tents under a big canopy, as Georgia is well known for rain too, and hit the showers! Of course the shower door couldn't be closed, and even if it did then you could still see between the doorframe and wall. To my surprise there was hot water, although coming from the cold water tap and vice versa. A strong sewerage smell coming from the drain hole told me that although the tiles were new, the underlying plumbing wasn't...

In the evening the rain set in, and continued all night. It was a forebode of things to come. Georgia isn't green for nothing! When we arrived it had been raining for 6 days in a row already, and there was plenty more to come. The next day we continued to Tbilisi to see if we could get a Russian visa there. To save time we took the main road from the coast to Tbilisi which we can fully recommend not to do! Don't worry though, it's not all bad, far from it in fact, but this is what you would encounter when entering Georgia from Turkey. In the next post on Georgia we'll show a very different side to this strange country and why it is so worth it to go there. Just to tease a little, just look at the photos to the left and below...


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