May 02, 2006 GMT
Iran 2

Colin has found that the non- alcholic beer is perfectlly acceptable ! The people have been so friendly and helpful. The further South we went and into the hotter weather, we were offered bread and water from passing cars.
You must be very wary of the Speed bumps that are suddenly there- I have not come off the back - yet ! There are alot of mosques on the side of the road and all hotel rooms have an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Mecca.
The shops stay open till 10pm and it is heaving with people, closed 2-5pm.Most of the towns have all clothing shops in one street, electric supplies together etc.
All towns display large posters of the military who have lost their lives in the recent wars.

18th april we went from Kerman to Bam through mountainous desert ares at 27- 30 degrees.Alot of Abobe houses here.
Bam is a city that was devastated by an eartquake 2 1/2 years ago and thousands died. people are still living in tents, corrugated buildings and part concrete areas. you can still see the houses with cracks up the sides and front. It is like a huge building site with construction people brought in from all over. Some houses have been rebuilt in concrete but now the foundations are 10- 12 feet deep with reinforced steel concrete.
Shops are selling their wares from Shipping containers- row upon row of them. One proudly had about 20 handbags hanging from hooks in the internal wall .

It is still a bustling and thriving city and a credit to the people , who have literally, tried to rebuild their lives from the rubble- and are succeeding. A tribute to human endeavour.

The Citadel ( the old walled city ) is completely flattened. The houses here were made of mud and clay. It is open to the public- and suprisingly, there is no charge. It is a place of tranquility and reflection on the power of nature.
The lady who had a teahouse just on the entry to the old city and was very proud that she was mentioned in Lonely Planet has now set up under some trees and still offers hospitality to the thirsty visitor.

We stayed at Akabar's Tourist Guest house ( the only place in town ). He told us that the quake happened at 5.15 am on boxing day and that they were living on the streets for 6 days.He still has tears in his eyes when he speaks of it. It took him a year to clear the rubble but he was offering a bed to the traveller within 5 months of the quake.
He now has 2 shower, loo and wash basin in a steel container and 3 double bedrooms in a concrete corrugated roof building. The family sleep in the courtyard on steel framed cots. he is rebuilding the Guest house along side the original. It will have 14 rooms and a restaurant .
Akbar lost many members of his family and a visiting motor cyclist from UK was killed. Akbar still has his bike and says he will always keep it.

The attitude of all the people is of great resiliance-- it has happened and now we must rebuils- and make Bam better than it was.

19th April from Bam to Zahadan. This is the Special Economic Zone area ( disputed tribal areas ) and Balluchistan . It was here that we had a police escort to the hotel and told not to go out by ourselves . Later that evening we had an armed police escort to go and buy fruit and water.
20th and onto Taftan. We had armed police escort out of town and they handed us over to the next check point.There are many Police checks and you have to be careful of the metal spikes recessed in the road and operated on a lever system. At each check we had to wait for the escort to drive back from the next checkpoint up the road and then escort us on wards. This process took at least an hour each time and there were 3 of them ! Sometimes we were able to wait tin the shade and others- not.( A very hot and demanding couple of days.)
200 K of sand duned desert at 40 degrees. At each stop we were shown the water tap to wash. The escort left us after the 1st pakistan check post and we went into "No Mans land ". Then onto Iran exit and that was a joke, as they told you to go here there and everywhere- and none of it was signposted ! And so into Pakistan where it was very efficient and we were through on 3 1/2 hours. We gained 1 1/2 hours at the border and are now 4 hours in advance of UK. Total miles 6078

Posted by Dee Masters at May 02, 2006 06:12 AM GMT

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