I remember seeing a guy riding a bike toward Baku, as we were nearing Ganca, the second largest city in Baku. We were finishing a long & extremely monotonous stretch of road in January. And there was this guy with his bulging panniers stuffed - riding alone down this very poor stretch of road.
My first impression was surprise. My second impulse was sympathy. But - I have to assume he did his research and knew what he was getting into.
The Telegraph is running a series of articles about the newspaper's correspondent, Douglas Whitehead, bicycling through Europe. One of his latest articles details his experience on the road to Baku. I've bicycled my share and I've traveled around Azerbaijan too. His impressions ring true to me. I easily can imagine the scenes he describes - the honesty of the people and the cultural differences about personal space and boundaries, the simultaneous hospitality and awkwardness.