Leaving Iran was a pleasant experience as we enjoyed some cakes with some very pleasant officials. Pakistan was just as friendly telling the girls they can disgard their hot garb. Met a young English chap taking an Enfield back to England, Tough ask. Back to left hand drive and enjoy the entertaining trucks and buses. What decorations and those horns!!!! Stop and talk to a German couple on an old XT500..full of enthusiasm and lust for those never ending roads.The road on this leg was quite good. Arriving at Dalbandin around 6.30pm saw us dock the bikes in a lockup garage under the Hotel. Our first curry of lamb with rice and nan bread. We survived.
We bought black market Iranian fuel at half the price of the local brew as the road east to Quetta slowly deteriorated.
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Iranian petrol sells on the black market in Pakistan
There were areas where the desert sand had encroached onto the roads. Attempting to ride through some at too slow a speed saw us stall and fall. No damage, just embarrassed. Numerous road blocks for passport checks has us riding over frayed steel cables. One too many saw the rear tyre collect one of these traps so it was out with the repair kit to fix only our second puncture of the trip. The numerous passport checks combined with the flat tyre caused us to arrive in Quetta after dark. Slowing to avoid traffic congestion I locked the front brake on the glass like road and hit the deck harder than I would like. I am sporting a very blue ankle at the moment. Not a good day for us.
K & C on the road to Quetta, Pakistan.
We spent the night at the Muslim Hotel. Not recommended..very dirty. Moved to the Bloom Star the next day and met up with Luke and Niki travelling on a R100GSPD (See www.HorizonsUnlimited.com E-zine) Good to hear that Aus accent again and great company to boot. We caught one of those overdecorated three wheelers into town the next day and found a shop that did money exchange, internet and sold western food . A little gold mine. All of us suffering a little from the dreaded tummy rumbles at the moment.
The next day we balance Lukes' bikes carbs with my vacuum guages . All the bikes are packed and we depart in different directions. We loose an hour trying to find the right road to Loralai. Finding the correct junction Carol is hit by a stone throwing kid as a parting jesture. At a Police check point we take a short cut road that turns into a dust bowl with roadworks that have been in progress for years it appears. The road was rough but paved in most other sections and we were making good time until we had another flat tyre. The rear again. This time the heavy duty tube had split along a mould line under the patch. Any explanations would be welcome. The original hole repaired was all but a pin prick and the split ran either side of this small hole. I have used the glue and patches on another punture with no problems and actually am still using the front tube carrying one of these patches. Plenty of helpers doing this repair as half a village turned up to view our antics. Replaced both the tyre and tube this time. All this occurred 12 kms outside our destination.
D G Kahn was our destination today but heavy truck trafice made the going slow. Mark had a fall today in the gravel avoiding oncoming traffic on a one lane road. A broken indicator lens and a dent in the tank was the only damage. Claire, not to be outdone dropped hers on top on a mountain while stopping to look at the view. Damage... a broken mirror. We spent the night at Fort Munro Family Inn and can thoroughly reccommend this oasis. Absolutely spotless and plenty of hot water. Great hospitality.
Petrol stop at Loralai
Heading to D G Kahn playing with the trucks on the mountain passes seems easier when your fresh and we make short work of the difficult overtaking manouvres. Everyone even had time to stop and take photos. Past D G Kahn and onto Muzaffagarh (!!!) we stop for a coke. A guru type entertains the crowd that gathers. A lot of laughing, probably at us... what a mottly crew . 30 kms from town (Mianwali) I have to find a toilet fast. Must get this sorted before we go much further. Welcome to Pakistan!!!
Departing Mianwali we travel through groves of trees, mostly eucalyptus, which break up the hot highway . The surface is good although a little rough at times. Our tents are pitched at the Islamabad Tourist Camp by 3.00pm that day as our minds begin to list the chores we have to attend before the Karakoram Highway. Three Germans on BMW's are camped here and they sing the praises of the KKH so much so that they have decided to go back and have another look.
We also meet Daniel on a KLR650 travelling the world. All the way from the USA. We had quite a party at the Australia Club on Thursday night for beers and a BBQ. Our chores include an extension on our visa for another 30days.
Carrying two tyres on our top box (since Turkey) has taken its toll. The vertical bolt holding the subframe to the main frame has broken the welded thread from the frame. All is welded and repaired now and the stearing head bearings have been replaced. The right rocker cover centre bolt has stripped out of the head. A temporary repair has been done. The new tyres have been fitted. We are ready for the KKH. News is that there is snow close to the Chinese border so we will not make it all the way up.
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Very loaded up bike in Baluchistan, Pakistan.
Our border crossing into Iran took just under three hours, 1 hour in Turkey two hours in Iran. Border officials were helpful and most of the delay was caused by so many officials asking about our journey. Carol changed into her garb and immediately complained about the heat. What a fashion statement she made. Not the normal black covering but a plum (pale) gown with gold buttons and a black and white head piece bought in Tunis earlier in the year. The men all turned their heads and the women looked on in envy I'm sure.
Ken and Carol sporting her fetching chador in Bam, Iran.
We ride to Tabriz stopping for fuel at a state owned petrol station. Five US cents a litre is all we paid. Great stuff. The paved road was in good condition although the drivers had little respect for road rules. Arriving at Tabriz we pulled over to the kerb to peruse the Lonely Planet. A crowd gathers and before we know it an escort is guiding us to our selected Hotel. A change of plan recommended by our guides had us heading to a campground which would have been way to difficult for us to find. On arrival our guides Ali and Vahid made gestures and with some broken English that we should stay at Vahids house for the night, We had heard about this hospitality and gladly accepted. We enjoyed two nights with Vahid his wife Mahnaz and Mohomad their 4 month old son. Their hospitality extended beyond belief when they refused to allow us to pay for anything including a service on the bike and some welding repairs. (Centre stand hook and spring). With a Doctor friend and his wife we visited Kadovan, a village carved into rock face similar to Cappadocia in Turkey.
Leaving Tabriz we head to Ardabil enroute to the Caspian Sea. At Ardabil the weather clouded in and we rode through mist and rain for several kilometres before being stopped at a road block. We were ushered around the rock and mud barriers only to find three more further down the road until the last one we could not go around . The rain was quite heavy and the cloud cover very dark when five or six Iranians offerd to lift the bike over the obstacle.
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Locals lifting the bike over a road block, east of Ardabil, heading towards the Caspian Sea, Iran
On the coast (Caspian) the sky improved. Arriving at Rasht we had great difficulty in obtaining accomodation. Efforts of a money changer were to no avail although we all knew there was room at the hotels we were declined. Once again a local came to the rescue and we spent the night with an English school teacher and his wife.
We left late the next day for Tehran and crossed the mountains separating the Caspian from the remainder of a desert like Iran. The area around the Caspian is lush and green. Searching for a non existant campground out near the new International airport saw us return to Tehran around 10.30pm taking the first hotel we could find.
Leaving the next day we got lost and ran smack into army post. A plain clothes chap requested our passports and delayed our departure by almost 30 minutes. We had heard of the virtues of Esfahan and we were not dissappointed. Tree lined streets with greetings of Hello from almost everyone who walked past. The Amir Kabir Hotel although not plush provided a relaxed place to stay. Our Sth African friends Trevor and Noah on the KTM's were also there so our socialising over the next few days was even more fun. They were a big hit with the Iranian women. Plenty of smiles and hello's . We extended our visas here for another five days (giving us 15days) and enjoyed the sights as well as the Gaz (Nougat) and fruit jellies.
It was here that we met Claire and Mark from England riding two XT600's. They were also heading East.
Leaving the next day for Shiraz saw the road take us into some arid dry deserts with bare stoned mountains the only variance in the scenery. Crosswinds turned into headwinds as the local trucks and buses gave us friendly blasts on their many and varied horns.
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On the road in windy Iran.
Approximately 60 kms before Shiraz the ruins of Persopolis had us wandering around clicking our shutters and wondering how and why.
Trevor and Noah were equally impressed. As we parted (Trevor & Noah were heading to Turkmanestan) Claire and Mark arrived. We ventured to Shiraz to stay at the Anvari Hotel (secure parking) A day in Shiraz walking the Bazaar and struggling to find food other than Kebabs was enough.
Yazd was bustling as we rode into town. We copped the mandatory stares and I wondered how Iranians would react if the Western world stared at them when they ventured outside their borders. My attempts to negotiate down the hotel costs ( Aria Hotel) were futile but there was no other so back we went. This time Carol did the negotiating. A reduction was granted. Pure charm and skill. Two Danes riding XT600's and an Irishman (Connor) also on an XT600 found their way to the same Hotel. We explored the old mud city and the Zoroastrian Temple before heading off to Bam the next day.
We were joined by Connor on this leg and succeeded in loosing him twice enroute but eventually arrived together just on dark. Finding a bed at Ali Amiri's Legal Guest House in Bam saw us hook up with Claire and Mark again. We enjoyed wandering around Arg - E - Bam the old mud fortress and city which has been partly restored. During a tyre changing exercise behind the Guest House Connor had his M/cycle keys stolen. Beware!!! There is theft in Iran.
Leaving Bam we head to Mirjave, our party is now five people and four bikes. Just outside Bam we were stopped at a check point and our Passports taken. Questioning the delay I was told that the road ahead was dangerous and we would have to wait for an escort. Almost an hour passed when a uniformed man handed back our passports and said 'go'. As he walked away I called out "Escort" and opened the palms of my hands. He did not even reply. During this time several vehicles had passed through without so much as a momentary glance.
Carol became the group photographer on this leg to Mirjave. Some great photos of the bikes on the move. The only hotel in Mirjave plays a hard game. Charging more than the tourist spots and offering no hot water and quite dirty rooms in what could be an excellent establishment. To top it off they gave an exchange rate of 7,000 to US$1 instead of the usual 8,000 to US$1. Can't recommend this one.
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