Michael Eierle - Germany to India, Pakistan and Iran, Germany to Turkey - Iran (II)

From the Iranian border to Esfahan

The Iranian emigration is directly at the gate. The customs is 200 m further after the roundabout on the left side. And remember: it's right side driving now !!!

Attention Ladies: before you pass the gate cover your hair. You don't have to wear it under the helmet like a friend of mine had to do, when they rode through Iran 11 years ago. Rosi had the hair scarf always around the neck. When she put down the helmet, immediately she pulled the scarf over. That was okay.

Around lunchtime we left this hot and dusty spot direction Zahedan. 5 Km away from the border is a petrol station in Mir Javeh. (Don't forget to change a little money on the Pak side already.)

Then it's a 80 km ride to Zahedan, my personal piece of shit town. We had to stop there, because we had to change money and needed petrol (is called benzin here).

First of all some kids throw stones after Rosi. We couldn't catch them. Then a extremely cool little wanker tried to put a stick in between the wheels of Rosi's bike while she was passing by.

This guy we got with the help of an Iranian man. Rosi gave him one left and one right and I showed him a straight forehand. He was learning: bikers cause pain - sometimes!

We changed money in a better hotel and tried to get petrol. Not easy here because they are using special petrol credit cards. So you have to ask for a petrol station taking cash.

Losing our nerves we left this friendly city around 2.30 pm. It was hot.

The roads are very good in Iran and petrol (better quality than India and Pakistan) is just 5 Cent US per liter. I wish I would have had an American 7-liter-V8-sucker with some hundreds of horse power. Dream on!

We reached Bam the late afternoon after a long ride with plenty side wind through hot desert and dry, rocky country side. Today we made 430 km. The road was empty and in a perfect shape.

A famous guide book says, there is no petrol station between Zahedan and Bam. This must have changed last years or was always there. In Nosrat Abad, ca. 120 km after Zahedan is a petrol station. It's signposted, 50 meter to the right in the center of the village. Later on there is one more ca. 100 km before Bam, but I forgot the name of the village. Ask the bus-, truck-drivers.

People are mostly very friendly here except in Z.

In Bam we met Klaus and Sonja with their Unimog truck again. We stood in the relaxing Akbar's place for a reasonable price (sorry I forgot how much). He has save parking for the bikes inside.

There are plenty of travelers and the women don't have to cover their hair inside. Next day we visited again the old mud fortress Arg e' Bam. Absolute worth to see.

After two days we were on the road again to Yazd. We started early, the road was empty and except the beautiful and wide country side there is nothing really special to see. Only the side wind nerved and cost some energy. After a long time I had to close my jacket again when we passed Kerman. The altitude is 2400 m and it was quite fresh. People told me different impressions about Kerman but we decided not to stay. Early afternoon we reached Yazd after 500 km. If your petrol tank is good for 250 km so there will not be a problem with petrol stations in Iran. Temperatures slowly became more comfortable.

We found accommodation in the Aria hotel, 10$ the double with shower. The bikes we parked at the entrance. Same afternoon we visited the 'towers of silence'. In these towers the Zoroastrians (a powerful religious group) offered their deaths to the vultures, because fire, earth and water is holy for them. 50 years ago they stopped feeding the birds that way here. In India (Mumbay) they still do. The evening we spent in a famous teahouse, a former hamam (a place where the male sweat the stuff out off their ribs = a sauna, what else).

Next day we visited the historical underground water supply. It was pleasant cool down there.

We still had 35 degrees C outside. Once again we spent the night in this historical ex-sweat-institution for Moslem boys.

Next day easily we made the 330 Km to Esfahan in 4 hours. This town has 1.2 mio inhabitants, is around 2500 years old and famous for it's beautiful bridges over the river.

But in October 2000 and May 2001 was no water in the river. So we missed the special atmosphere there.

Here we met Klaus and Sonja once again. We extended our visas without any problem for 7 more days for just 2 $ US per person. The maximum extension is the same amount of days you had before. It's much cheaper doing just a seven-day-transit and then the extension in the country. Other travelers told me, even a second extension was no problem.

We stood again in the Amir Kabir Hotel for 6 $ the night. Clean and big rooms, 2 internet connections in the hotel. A good place, only the owners are sometimes a bit unfriendly. Maybe to fed up through the good LP promo. But who gives a real … we don't have to marry these fat Freddies.

Of course we made sightseeing. There is the meydan-e Emam, a huge, impressing place and the center of the city and a couple of mosques. Then there is the bazaar (market) with a huge gate and impressing architecture. And you shouldn't miss a evening in the hotel Abbasi. This former Caravanserai is a 5-star-backpacker now with a huge beautiful garden where you can relax with a cup of tea and a nagile (water pipe) and fine fruit tobacco.

Rosi liked the Iran much more than Pakistan and India because the habit between men and women was much more western like even when women have to walk around like penguins (most of the younger girls will throw the hair scarf immediately into the corner when they reach home). People are very friendly and Iranian women were talking to Rosi and trying to practice their English. For her it was pretty good because she could talk in a normal way to them. In Pak instead all the women were locked away.

Tomorrow the 21.5. we will drive to Teheran and the Kuh e Damavand, the highest mountain of the country.

Esfahan to Turkey!

When we picked up the bikes on our last evening in the parking house I was close to beat this so called security guy. The bikes were covered but 'the police' wanted to see them - and had to move all gears and switches. It was no problem parking the bikes in front of the Amir Kabir Hotel, but covered. 7 am, the 21st of May, we left Esfahan after some relaxing days. Lucky us we found the direct way out of the city and after 400 km more, around 1pm we stood in front of Ayatollah Khomeini's holy shrine or better monument. It's huge and looks like a sports hall with a mosque at each corner. Impressive. Also foreigners can go in but have to leave their shoes at the counter (follow the smell). Some km more we got an also very impressive view over Teheran. It's settled in front of mountains and in the back you can see the huge Kuh e Damavand with 5671 m altitude. What a view.

Tired of big cities, we just scratched Teheran at the east side, through chaotic traffic on the way to Reynee. This little something of nothing village lies at the foot of the Damavand. Perfect big roads outside, a hell of traffic and Iranian tourists here. It's a touristy area like anywhere else in the world. Riding through fresh air, fantastic mountains over a 3000m high pass - great. In Raynee are no Hotels but we found private (not really cheap) accommodation in the house of the local tourist guide, just ask.

Minutes later an arrogant civil police officer came and wanted our passports. He became angry because I didn't want to. So he came back with two soldiers and asked for the film in the camera too. Finally I could convince him, that there is nothing on the film and he checked the passports.

I had made a photo of the mountains around Raynee, but I didn't realize this junk yard camouflaged as a military base. Do not make photos of anything what smells like important, military or secret. Can be a problem everywhere in the world.

At least they disappeared, we got a save place for the bikes and went shopping. For the dinner the owner wanted more than for the room.

Next day we drove through wild gorges and enjoyed curvy roads via Amol to the Caspian Sea.

Heavy rainstorms were following us along the coast. This is the holiday area for rich Iranians. If the Ladies wouldn't wear their hair scarf or the Shador, this could be in Italy or France. We were amazed. Today we swum 350 km.

In Ramsar we met two nice guys in an old Camaro who helped us to find a reasonable accommodation. Finally they brought us to a luxury holiday resort 15 km outside. But 45 $ US was too much for us. So the dealt with the owner, via telephone, and got the price down to 20 $. The people here were totally nice.

Overnight all our wet stuff dried. Our huge room had a working heating system and Tv-set. At night we enjoyed the farsi version of 'comandante Rex', the story of a German Shepard working at the police, in Germany better known as 'Kommisar Rex'. Amazing that the women in the movie are not covered, even in Iran.

Next morning, 24 degrees C and sunshine, we rolled slowly to Astara, the village on the border to Azerbaijan. After pizza, some pieces of kebab and 250 km through green farmers land, always the sea on the right, we reached the bleak village Astara. We couldn't really find the border crossing, only a big yard with the customs building. On our way today the tourism went down to 0, the sea was beautiful blue with white sandy beaches and the people here looked more and more like Turks. Reminded me to the Turkish Black Sea coast. But also people were very friendly.

Through great, impressive mountain scenery we followed the heavily controlled borderline to Ardabil. This town lies on a high plateau. The only cheap hotel in the center was completely run down and we went to the Darya Hotel outside in the south of the city. New, clean, warm, friendly, safe parking and a reasonable restaurant for 25 $ US (you have to bargain). Rosi had a cold so we joined something better.

We realized that foreigners have to pay always more in better hotels or resorts. Sometimes double. But this is a government rule.

On the next day we planed to go to Tabriz. But everything worked out very good and so we decided to go to Turkey today. This day the weather was cloudy. At the afternoon we were already on the way to the most famous Armenian church in Iran, the Kara Kilise. But 50 km before it started raining and we got a heavy sandstorm. Besides, especially in this direction it was completely dark sky. So we decided not to go there. Tired we reached the Turkish border around 6pm.

We just entered the new customs building, when it started raining like hell.

People were friendly and helpful. We changed the last Iranian Rial and after 2 hours we rolled the last 30 km to Dogubayazit under dark clouts with a blood red sunset. To our right the majestic mountain Ararat. What an atmosphere. Only 7 degrees C. I made one photo after the other. Rosi pushed me forward. It was wet and cold.

In darkness we reached Dogubayazit. Direct under the Ishak Pascha palace uphill we found cheap and cold accommodation. We just switched of the bikes and entered the restaurant, two well known faces looked from inside out: Ben and Nick, the two British guys we spent some time with in Islamabad. This night was a Kurdish Party going on here. After long time we enjoyed the good Turkish beer and food and the uncovered ladies of the band. The Kurdish sounds very similar to the Irish music. So we finished our first day in Turkey.

We enjoyed our journey through Iran very much. When you enter the country from Pakistan you can really feel the western influence (maybe not in Zahedan). People are extremely friendly and helpful. Follow their rules (hair scarf, avoid too open clothes) and you will not have any trouble.

They know you are a foreigner. The warnings, descriptions in the guidebooks are much more extreme. Maybe have to be. In bigger cities it's a bit more open like everywhere. I saw some couples walking hand in hand.

Food (not too much of choice) and petrol is very cheap. If you like sweets - it's your country.

Rosi and I liked the country and we would visit it again, anytime.

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