New Accommodation Idea
Dilapidated Soviet-era buses heading to and returning from the most inaccessible of mountain towns pulled in and out of the bus stand. A perpetual smog shrouded the area. How anyone could last more than twenty years in this environment, I will never know. Horns blared, people clambered. Was I in Azerbaijan?
It was the first time since India that I had seen such a blatant disregard for a bus stand. It was packed with buses, all old, and it hosted multiple tea stands, a barber shop, and a mobile phone store. The pace, albeit slower than India, was scintillating. There was life in this city.
The main bazaar street was crawling with vendors selling everything from door handles to ostensibly fresh fish. Old ladies offering fresh vegetables discussed the news of the day in the market. Who had conned who into buying rotten eggplants and so on. Silver fish sparkled as the merchant sprinkled water on them. They looked particularly catastrophic to the stomach, not to mention the nose.
One cop was tasked with patrolling the area. We approached him thinking he would know where we could stay.
"You want hotel? Go through those doors, turn left at the samovar table, go up the stairs to the 3rd floor, and look for an old guy. He'll have rooms you can stay in."
Awesome. Can it get any cooler than staying above the main bazaar?
We ascended the stairs, passing the Lankaran Bazaar Association and a dental office along the way. We were greeted at the top by a hesitant (perhaps explained by the sight of two foreigners), yet congenial man. He knew what we were coming for and ushered us to one of the rooms. On first look, this was no Hilton. On second look, it wasn't even a Motel 6.
I quickly calculated that this was the second "worst" place I had stayed in. The first being Sukhbaatar, Mongolia. Seeing as how I actively seek out the "worst" places, this felt just like home.
A sink and mirror adorned the corner of the room. Three beds sat idle. Sitting on one revealed that it was going to be a tough sleep. Imagine sleeping on a spring fence.... The room was barely eight feet wide, but long enough to comfortably fit two beds back-to-back.
We were shown the bathroom a few minutes later. It was down the hall and to the right. The toilets were of the squat variety. Such a long time had passed since I used them. Could this place get any better?