The Lada Legend: Besh Barmagh and Sumqayit – Part Two
In the shadow of Besh Barmagh sits a famed rest stop that anyone who has been to Quba knows about. It is there that you can find true street kebab (i.e. you can eat it on the street without having to go into a cafe) and a mosque with a great washing station. Truckers, bus drivers, and motorists alike almost invariably stop in on the way north from and south to Baku. We were no different.
Our ascent up to the famed rock formation was easily handled by the Colonel. It’s amazing what a little first and second gear can do for you. Going down was a slightly different story. The washboard effect was in full force and the dust storm created by each car was blinding.
On our way back, we decided to stop at the famed city of Sumqayit. It is known for being an important centre of chemical production in the Soviet Union. Factories there also produced much of the oil industry equipment needed by Moscow. Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the factories were shut and have not opened since.
Its industrial past has earned Sumqayit a high ranking on the list of “World’s Most Polluted Cities.” You couldn’t really tell that when you’re in the city, though. Wide boulevards, a street that meanders its way above the beach and sea, immaculately kept apartment blocks. If you wanted to know what a Soviet town looked like aesthetically, Sumqayit is a great place to start.
What the city is most famous for, though, is its beach. There are four peculiar things about it:
1. It’s incredibly wide and consists of wet, hard-packed sand
2. Buses and cars routinely use it as a way to get from one side of the city to the other
3. There is a rusted out, partially submerged ship sitting at the end of a decrepit cement dock
4. Despite multiple signs reading “NO SWIMMING ALLOWED”, people still go swimming.
We briefly considered taking the Colonel down there and showing it off. Maybe some other time.