I was issued my visa for Iran on the 20th september in Erzurum Turkey, but the visa was dated to start from the 19th, so after paying a collossal 210 euros! I felt slightly cheated with losing of one day, which works out to be 7 euros, travelling on a shoe string and silent prayers as you go along makes you count things like this, even makes you sweat about it all some of these
hot sticky nights, but coincidently 19th september is my mothers birthday, so I took it as a good omen instead and decided I am going to continue and that is all there is to it.
By the time I rode to the border it left me just over 3 weeks of visa time in Iran, so after riding a few days then unfolding the rest of the map to reveal just how little I had covered and just how big this country is, then I started to do a few calculations.....its a bloody long way to Banda Abbas and the geography looks very demanding. From then on it was a daily mission to average over 120km so I could reach banda Abbas in good time to find a boat to Dubai or make other arrangements if needed.
The first night in Iran I was greeted with a huge storm and I cowered inside my tent for a few hours, holding on to the corners, as violent gusts threatened to carry me away much quicker east than I had expected.
Luckily mother nature had many other faces she wanted to show me, some equally unpleasant, 5 days of strong winds whipping up the sand and dust, which blocked my nose and had nose bleeds, two of these days I had to hitch hike, just impossible to cycle, luckily the people were more than happy to stop and help plenty, there being plenty of trucks and flat beds to throw my bike into. After the sand storms, huge climbs up into the mountains where it levelled out onto huge flat plateaus with 3000m plus peaks rising up all around, it was like a minature but no less impressive Tibet, these were a great few days, flat and the wind had turned slightly so that it was just over my right shoulder giving me assistance and I could cruise and maintain an average of 26kmh, so I felt I was making good progress and my mood relaxed a little.
I finally reached Bandits ass, or comonly known here as Banda e Abbas in very good time in the end exactly 19 days coincidently!. I imagine not so long ago here would have been crawling with Pirates and bandits, takes me back to the days of watching Sinbad the sailor and Jason and the argonauts. Now the argonauts are replaced with an even bigger army of jugganauts, heading for their bounty of commercial freight, which made cycling here a bit intimidating with the amount of lorries, heading out here 24hours a day, adding to the already tiring honking and hooting from everyone else, except these things have super stupid 1000 decibel multi ring tones that they take great pleasure in using at any opportunity, normally when they are right next to your left ear.
Great to experience so much enthusiasm from all the people of Iran, but after waving maybe 70 80 times a day which they seem to want you to respond to every time, even when struggling up huge mountains, it does get a bit annoying and I felt I had become one of those cheap Chinese nodding, waving things that they put in the back of car windows.
Then there are the drive by's or the brake hard and then reverse up the hard shoulder hoping you will stop and repeat for the hundreth time that you are from Inglestan, going to wherever, having to repeat this a few times before they finally say “ ah yes Manchester, David Beckam very good” towards the end it became so predictable that I just told them what they wanted to hear, “Hi my names David” beause that seemed to be what 'Gavin' translated to every time I tried to tell them, yes I am David from Manchester and I love football more than you as well.
Their enthusiasm only became really annoying when entering and trying to navigate through some of the towns, where it would start off with a few, normally young kids on motorbikes tagging along, making all sorts of excitable noises that if you did not respond to in some way just provoked them to be silly with you, the longer these kids buzzed around the more attention it focused and so more would join in, the one evening I had the whole road blocked by cars and motobikes, cutting me up, following, tooting horns, leaning out of cars, camera phones blasting away like the Paperatzi, and a barrage of questions, people trying to get your attention, so after cycling 120km and trying to get through this bit to find somewhere quiet to stop, set camp up and eat, this can start to get very stressful.
But.....and I really must stress, 90 percent of the time the experience with these people were fantastic, they did not have bombs strapped to them, carry weapons of any kind and certainly never aggressive, so helpful anytime you want help they will try to please, over friendly to a fault is the only problem, and that was mainly due to riding such an unusual bike which just excites easily excitable people and situations. Truly peaceful, happy, enthusiastic family/community orientated people. Iran is a great place of culture and nature and discovery. I would like to return but with more time of course.
|Read the writing on the walls...if you can? this was actually a prison, I love the art work beautiful calligraphy throught Iran.|
|Many ways to travel, trailer or guitar you go your own way.|
|ooooooh shit I have been expecting this some day...|
|Wow, I love this place already.|
|My first taste of Iranian hospitality.|
I asked a farmer if I could put my tent up on his field, but no way was he going to let me, insisted I came to stay with them at their house, I had a great evening, we entered what looked like a mud house, but inside was immaculate, exotic tiling, marbel big open plan design, a shame I did not get the opportunity to photograph but it felt not correct to do so. We all eat together, well the men and the women separate, but maybe thirty to fourty family members, seemed to be normal daily routine, very good atmosphere, bloody amazing food.
|Dont stop too long,it is likely to create a crowd everytime...can get a bit tiring but they are just really interested in you where you come from, its an experience.|
|help get meout of here|
|I loved this guy happily cycled by the side of me for about 12km babbling away, sometimes singing, I joined in then stopped to admire his bike....look at those crazy mirrors...!|
|The long road, always wanting to see whats over the next hill or round the next corner.|
|A windy day riding in the back of a truck.|
|I was repairing my gear cable, then as if by magic the shopkeeper appeared...its time for tea, lunch and Opium...!|
|Hmmm it looked tempting to blow your mind and let the wind rip outside until it was all blown out....I decided to make my way and face reality.|
|Great hospitality and a great lunch, thank you my friends.|
|Huge high plateau, above 200om.|
|See flag, wind is giving me a great push these past few days across these huge flat areas, really enjoyed riding here.|
|Motorcycling....great couple I met going on to Pakistan.|
|Lower altitude now and starting to see some green contrast, is good to see.|
|Oooooh it looks like a dessert...!|
|Shit it really is, it was supposed to be a huge lake, hmm left or right?|
|OK follow that truck then.|
|I think tonight willbe very peaceful.|
|Ooooh yes just a perfect place, I had one of the most peaceful experiences here.|
|60km somewhere is a village!|
|There it is|
|Relieved to be back on tarmac.|
|Oooh this was a bloody big climb at the wrong end of the day.|
|...But coming down the other side reveaaled a gorgeous valley, this photo does not give it justice, a real treat to freewheel now through here and find somewhere to camp for the night.|
|Really getting hot now below 1000m I am dripping and sand sticking.|
|These guys from the Iranian Red crescent, same as the british red cross, doing a great job, they also put up stray foreigners for the night, feed them....cool, many thanks again guys....|
|Ooooh my favourite part of the day...bring it on munch munch munch.|
|Finally arrived Banda Abbas|
|How to find a ship, just drive along the beach until you find one.|
|We found the port, now to get a ticket out of here|
|Arriving in Dubai.....bloody hot hot hot|
|Wow sea, water...its bath time....here in Dubai.|