April 17, 2006 GMT

We waved byebye to Mount Arrarat, the mountain guide who had 14 children ( and had promised his mother to have 20 !) and 3 English lads who were cycling from London to Bejing.
The hip flask was drained and a book swap managed ( very important ).
We changed money to Rials and ,for once in our life were millionaires, as there are 16000 rials to 1GBP.

Colin went into the Iran weather on the Net and was very impressed- as you can get the weather for the actual piece of road you are travelling.

We had got the Iran visa before leaving UK. First you have to get a number from Tehrain and when this is issued you get the visa. We were granted 30 days in a period of 3 months.

We crossed the border on Sunday 9th April. It took 2 hours to go through and we were told to take a seat whilst the formalties were done. The bike was disinfected and we were told not to travel North of Tehrain due to Bird Flu.
There was no baggage check. The carnet was stamped and perused over and over again.( This is the Insurance that you do nt sell the vehicle whilst in the country- and costs mega bucks !)

Immediately the temperature was 20 degrees and we went onto Maku, which is definitely a frontier town. It is in a deep gorge which traps the pollution nicely. We ended up in a right doss house of a hotel (shared stinking squat loo amd shower) but the bed was clean and at 4GBP- what could you expect ?

We learnt from this to stick out for the hotel that you want- despite what the locals say. The bike was safe- driven down a tyre width ramp into the foyer and 2 guys helped Colin push it up the next day.

Onto Tabriz on 10th. A large city and traffic unbelivable. Every one thinks they have right of way. There are no traffic lights- or a few that are constantly flashing red or amber and do not change at all. People go the wrong way around roundabouts, up one way streets the wrong way or back up if they have taken a wrong turn.

We were shown to the hotel by a policeman who stopped all the traffic on a one way road, guided us across the road and up onto the pavement to the hotel !

Onto Zanjan next day. all the lorries will wave and beep as they pass. The tarmac is good and all major road signs in English. At each petrol station there are queues for diesel but the Benzine is readily available and for 11 litres ( 1/2 tank) is .....50 pence. Water is dearer. Meal out is 7GBP. Hotels about 18GBP per night.
There are' cardboard cut outs' for police cars on the side of the road and people can be picnicing, or selling their wares. Tolls for the Freeway but we do not pay.

Alot of 1950/60 trucks that do not help the pollution that seems to hang over all towns amd woe betide you if you are right behind one on the open road,. 125 mopeds and the record (so far) is 6 on one bike- mum,dad and 4 kids!

Alot of police checks but we have o nly been stopped once on the road and in one hotel were seen by the Police whilst we were having dinner - 'why were we visiting Iran and describe Iran '.

Karaj on 13 th where we had arranged to have the bike serviced at the BMW place. ( phoned ahead ) We thought that this would mean a trip into Tehran but luckily for us the workshop was at karaj- about 17 K away. Colin was very relieved that he did not have to drive in Tehran.

We turned up for the service at 9am. given tea and cakes. 10.30am- banana and orange each and at 12.45pm- lunch was served ! and all for the price of 45GBP. it was unelievable hospitality.

And so on to Kashan(15th) , Yazd and Kerman where we are having a day off (17th).
All the towns have big boulevards on entry with Evergreen trees that are carefully nurtured. A huge flower arrangement in the central square with statues.
Huge shopping malls with alot of Western clothes.

Shops closed Friday and Sunday apart from a few food shops. there is a mixture of clothes. Some wearing full chadda but we have only seen one with the full face grille. Alot of the younger girls have jeans on under the ch adda and are wearing makeup.
Crossing the road is a definite art form and you literally dodge the traffic. At that point I always hold on to colin's hand despite the etiquette.

We have passed through flat lush country, huge salt flats and are now in desert scrub land . it is getting up to 32 degrees- and that is when we are travelling. We are now wearing the Camel packs for water and they are good.

Yesterday we were offered bread and water as cars pulled up beside us. We have had loads of photos taken of the bikeand everyone has been very kind. Alot speak English or enough to get by.

I pull the headscarf down for travelling and pull it up as son as the helmet is off- and no one as complained.next onto Bam and real desert country........

Posted by Dee Masters at April 17, 2006 08:57 AM GMT

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