September 30, 2002 GMT
Into Iran

Iran is big. Really, really big. Bigger than the UK, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland put together. Three times the size of France and one fifth the size of the US. Get the picture? It's big.

We left Lake Van and headed North through the Kurdish mountains to the border town of Dogubayazit. Both the weather and scenery was beautiful - although the temperature dropped and we did have a small rain shower crossing one of the higer summits just to remind us of home. More village kids hurled bits of roadside furniture at us with a worrying improvements in accuracy. One semi-professional female shot putter of at least 6 years old lobbed what can only be described as an extinction level event meteorite at Adrian's front wheel - forcing him to slow down for at least the second time that day. Strangely, after they had finished lobbing building materials at whoever was leading at the time, they quite often waved at the second bike. Adrian developed the tactic of serving violently at the kids as they ran towards the road, which seemed to terrify them and delight them in equal measure and elicited more waves than boulders.

We passed the hundreds of petrol stations selling smuggled Iranian fuel that surround Dogubayazit and headed for Murat Camping - this is the traditional staging point for overlanders crossing the border into and out of Iran. Halfway up a mountain, for £1.20 a night you get the most incredible views and the opportunity to share a beer or two with other travelling folk. After listening to music from a traditional kuridsh duo over dinner (complete with Korg synthesiser), we picked up some useful info. from a French couple who had just spent a month touring Iran. We decided to stay one more night before crossing into Iran and killed a day looking around the town and exploring the mountains - but not the Pacha's Palace (which we were too tight fisted to pay to enter). That evening proved interesting as we planned how to improve the world with an East German guy called Henrik and a Kiwi chap named Kev. Henrik seemed to be concerned about how the world was being affected by capitalism and the media whilst Adrian and I just wanted to fit air filters to all the lorries so that we didn't have to breathe so much black smoke. As we headed off to the border the next day, we passed an enormous Turkish army exercise taking place along the main road. There was a seriously large amount of tanks and other hardware which we would love to have photographed for you, but....

The queue of lorries waiting to get into Iran was four and a half miles long - apparently taking 5 days to get through. The drivers were all camped out along the road in the baking heat, patiently waiting their turn whilst eating water melons. Fortunately, we tourists went straight to the head of the queue where we visited a total of 5 different offices in 2 hours before we could official 'leave' Turkey. Only to discover that the man who stood at the gate had gone too lunch - so we baked in the midday sun for another half hour with a couple of chaps from Azerbajaan. As we rolled the bikes into Iran, I was relieved of my 'nice' pen by the gate man and then we were welcomed to Iran with a smile and a handshake. The entry paperwork took only an hour and the friendly disposition of the officials was in marked contrast to the surly nature of the Turkish. The all important carnet documents were checked, stamped and we weren't hassled, questioned or searched in any way.

SeanEntersIran.gif

Shortly after leaving the Iranian border town of Bazergan we lost the signs to our stopover destination - Tabriz. As we stopped to ask directions from a chap who turned out to be the english teacher at the local english centre, we watched a car gracefully clip the kerb and turn completely turtle. We think that the unfortunate driver who stood staring at the wreck of his Hillman Hunter had been previously staring at Adrian and I in his mirror when he should have been watching the road. Talking of Hillman Hunters, this country must have been sold the entire production facility for Hunter and Avengers as the place is full of them. Not just one or two but 99% of all vehicles are Hunters and the remaining 1% Avengers. And in that god-awful original light blue, cream or mustard green. All of them flat out, everywhere and loaded with smiling, beeping and waving Iranians. Everybody waves at us, beeps at us, calls at us, wants to know how we're doing, where we're from and wishes us welcome to Iran. It's astonishing that the overtaking lorry drivers coming the other way that force us into the gutter, flash their headlights and wave cheerily as they do so. Hotel staff want to photograph us, and us to photograph them. People even come and knock on the door of our hotel room and ask us sign their book of foreign visitors.

Feeling like beings from another planet, we rode into Tarbriz and to the Hotel Mouramid where the staff helped us park the bikes in the marble floored lobby and then lent us enough Ryalls to buy dinner - as we hadn't changed any money yet. We ate very well that night for a total of $6 and after the meal were approached by two generations of English teachers, also out for a meal, who generously offered us any help that we might need during our short stay in Tabriz. This is one friendly country, but we have been warned to take care during the later desert phase of our trip...

AdrianExitsHotel.gif

On the Friday, after changing some money on the black market with the help of the chap from the Tourist Information office, we over-ambitiously headed for the town of Hamadan. But boy was it hot by the time we set off. In the heavy traffic, it was difficult to keep up any kind of pace and when we reached a stretch of nice, clear motorway, we were stopped almost immediately by the police. They politely informed us that bikes weren't permitted on the motorway but realised that there was no way off it until we had reached our destination. So they just disappeared at high speed and left us to it. In the end we gave up the ghost and pulled into a brand new motel some 150 miles short of our destination.

We set off early the next morning to avoid the midday heat and easily covered the remaining distance to Hamadan by lunch time. But we had screwed up as there still wasn't time to visit the spectacular underground lakes of Ali Sadr. This meant that we would have to kill the afternoon in Hamadan, visit the lakes the next morning which wouldn't leave enough time to cover the 300 miles to our next stop of Esfahan. Problems, problems, problems.

We are keeping tabs on the world service re. the political situation and may be meeting up with three other guys on bikes in Iran if we feel the need for more security when we reach Pakistan.

And by the way, it cost $5 for over 60 litres of fuel.

Posted by Sean Kelly at September 30, 2002 07:51 PM GMT
Comments

Nice to hear from you!
Thought you'd got lost!
Haven't read the latest yet but I hope it's up to your usual standard Sean.

I've had Pete around here for a couple of days and how he laughed about your comments.......I think he said he's putting out a contract on you.

Catch ya later

Tall paul

Posted by: tall paul on September 30, 2002 09:40 PM GMT

Glad to hear from you - this should all make for an interesting book when you get back. I'll forward all your glowing comments about Iran to the team from the Holiday programme! I'm thinking about booking a long weekend - where do you recommend?! It will make a change from Skeggy.
Have fun
Liam

Posted by: liam on September 30, 2002 10:47 PM GMT

Sounds a bit like Langely Mill. Only bigger. However, I think we have more rubble and stone throwing children.
I have to say, an overriding concern is emerging regarding the journey- Adrian's not growing a beard is he?

Posted by: MJK on October 1, 2002 06:14 PM GMT

MJK - I think you must be jealous - Adrian looks particularly handsome (even more so than usual) with that beard.
Sean and Mr Beardiwierdi...
Try buying boiled sweets and throwing them at the kids - they tend to drop the stones and then just fight each other for them.
Glad to hear you're enjoying Iran - its a pretty amazing place. You will find Pakistan on the whole very friendly - especially if you get to the villages in the Hunza Valley (karakoram highway). Dont forget to keep checking your border crossing documents - ensure that you have the right entrance stamps and they have written your registration down properly. This is one of the scams - you get to the exit border and then either have to go back to the entrance border for new documents or pay a fee. When you get to BAM...stock up on Bam dates. They are supposed to be legendary.
Keep safe and buy more pants.
Lynn.

Posted by: lynn falkner on October 3, 2002 07:52 PM GMT

Hey Lynn
Adrian "more handsome than usual"?? I've forwarded your comments to specsavers - free appointment in the post. Anyway, when are you going to reply to my e-mail -haven't seen you for ages m'lud.
Take care
Liam.

Posted by: Liam on October 4, 2002 06:04 PM GMT

5 days in Iran - are you still out there? I´m so jealous, despite my lovely life out here anyone´s travel stories make my feet itch within minutes!
Anyway, enjoy, may you live in interesting times!
love and luck from Helene, Andy & Daniel.

Posted by: Helene on October 8, 2002 10:09 AM GMT

Hi Sean and Adrian,

Fantastic weblog. We're dead jealous (and really proud of you). Keep out of trouble!!

Luv Jen & Dave

Posted by: jen&dave on October 8, 2002 10:15 PM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.
 
 

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.



Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!