After a good rest at Sheki we drove on to Tbilisi Georgia soon after breakfast. It was quite a pleasant drive with many stops to enjoy the scenery and for photography.
Georgia is a very Christian country (84% orthodox Christians) with the balance made up of Azeris and Armenians. It was, however, ruled by the Arabs from AD 645 and later by the Seljuk Turks in the early 12th Century.
Georgia had its Golden Age in the 12th and 13th Century. But subsequently Georgia came under Mongol and Tamerlane attacks, severely weakening the Christian kingdom. Thus the Persians and Ottoman Turks also had their days over Georgia. In December 1800 Georgia was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire. However, in 1918 it declared independence in the midst of the Russian Civil War. But in February 1921 the Red Army attacked Georgia and brought it into the USSR. Joseph Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, later became a prominent Bolshevik personality of the USSR.
Georgia attained full independence from the Soviet Union on April 9, 1991.
Why is Georgia named thus? Probably because most of its kings were named George.
We drove into Tbilisi rather late on 23 Sep, on account of a mishap on the road. The Quattro girls’ car broke down with a major engine/transmission problem. It was confirmed by the workshop at Tbilisi that it was not drivable and had to be trucked to Istanbul for shipping back to Malaysia. The girls then decided not to continue with the journey ie leave the convoy at Tbilisi and make their own way back to Malaysia.
Tbilisi is a beautiful capital city of Georgia with quite a lot of history to show considering that it was host to the Arabs, Mongols, Tamerlane, Persian, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks and latterly the Russians/Soviets. We had two days in Tbilisi and made full use of the opportunity.
My Rotary friends led by President Levon Barikian came a-calling in the morning with his RC Tbilisi members. They then invited me (with Sh Abas and Zaki) to a dinner that night. It’s nice being a Rotarian; you have instant friends all over the world. The next morning we left for Gori — but didn’t stay the night — just to see the Stalin Museum.
From Gori we drove on to Batumi, a resort city on the Black Sea coast and gateway to Turkey. We stayed at the Hotel Oasis which happened to have Georgia’s Miss World aspirants staying there and rehearsing for the contest. They were a most welcome sight; and most of us made a beeline for the swimming pool knowing full well that they would be showing off there.
That night we were guests of the DG of Tourism, Province of Ajaria at a dinner with a cultural show thrown in. And in the morning we were off to Turkey.