December 14, 2012  |  Iran

After waking up way too early I left Dogubayazit. I knew it was going to be a very long ride all the way to Tabriz. Despite what I wrote in my the last story I had found a couchsurfer in Tabriz where I could spend two nights.

On the way to the border I enjoyed the view of Mount Ararat one last time. It’s a huge mountain. Halfway up the mountain was a ring of clouds, above which you could just see the top of the mountain. I’m going to climb this thing once, that would be cool.

The border was only a half hour ride. I passed a big line of trucks and a guy came up to me and said that he would help me. I read a lot about this border crossing and these guys always want your money. I declined his offer for help and slowly started riding again. He kept walking next to me so I rode a little faster and now he had to run to keep up with me. I kept riding at a pace at which he had to run but not that fast that he would give up. He kept running after me all the way to the first booth where I had to park my bike. Out of breath he asked me if I wanted to change my money. He offered a pretty good rate but people who run after you for 200 meters just to help you have a hidden agenda and can’t be trusted I think.

I cannot even remember how everything at the border went but I had to go from office to office and everywhere they wanted to see another document. I tried to pay my speeding ticket. I found out that on the back of the ticket was written in English that foreigners could pay it at the border and if you do not pay a monthly interest of 5% is charged. But nobody at the border knew what I was talking about so I was unable to pay it. Well that’s something future-me will take care of. My apologies to myself. The Iranian side of the border was a mess. Big lines of people waiting and it was very unclear where I was supposed to go. But suddenly a Dutch speaking Iranian guy showed up and helped me with translating and made sure my paperwork was taken care of. I could skip all the lines of waiting people and after maybe one and a half hour total I was in Iran.
20121214-193444.jpg Because creditcards and debitcards don’t work in Iran you have to survive on the money that you bring with you. So the first thing I did was to exchange my Turkish Lira at a Saraffi (exchange office). The office could only exchange a part of my money because they were out of Iranian Rials. Also they only had 10.000 and 20.000 Iranian Rial notes
20121214-193513.jpg I stopped in a town and had lunch in a restaurant. The owners were very friendly and they refused to take my money when I wanted to pay. I promised the I would put their picture on my website. So Ali Zeynali and Gusem … Thank you for the meal! 20121214-193521.jpg

Later on a car passed me on the right side and the driver opened the window. He handed me a pack of chewing gum. As it is very unpolite to decline such an offer I took it from him. Still riding and nowhere to quickly store the chewing gum I put the pack in my mouth and now a car from the left side opens the window and hands me an orange. Wtf? So now I’m riding with a pack of gum in my mouth, an orange in my left hand and I try to navigate to the side of the road to store this stuff away and cars passing from all sides shouting ‘Welcome to Iran!’. Very good first impression of Iran. 20121214-193543.jpg In the evening I arrived in Tabriz. I called Alireza and he came to me in his car and I tried my best to follow him to his grandmothers home and not to crash. Apparently nobody in Iran understands what indicators are for and even at night some people don’t ignite their headlights since it uses to much electricity.

I stayed with Alireza in Tabriz for two nights. We went to a place were they replaced the chain and sprockets on the bike and they fixed one of the chain tensioners because it was broken. After that we went to the garden of the parents of Alireza 30 kilometers outside of Tabriz. We had lunch there and afterwards we went to see some of the city. We talked with all kinds of people that came up to me and asked me were I’m from and what I’m doing in Tabriz. We met some friends of Alireza and one of them commented that I look not a day older than nineteen. When I ask him why he says it’s because of marijuana. He thinks children should start to smoke marijuana at the age of nine or ten to stay young. 20121214-193630.jpg

The next day his grandmother made us breakfast and Alireza drove me to the secured parking lot somewhere in Tabriz where my bike was. It’s already 12 or 1 o’clock as I’m leaving Tabriz and on my way to Tehran. A 600 km ride. I only have a fifteen day visa so I have to travel rather fast. It’s almost only highway to Tehran and it’s raining and it’s cold. Because of the heavy traffic in Tehran I arrive at 10 o’clock at the hotel.

On my way to my room I met Dex, a rider from Poland. The driveshaft of his BMW R100R is broken and he’s stuck in Tehran for ten days waiting on a part to be delivered. It’s nice to talk to a fellow rider and hear about his stories, adventures, troubles and plans. I went to take a shower and then I went to the lobby of the hotel to use the wifi. Two guys came and went to the reception. I hear the receptionist calling and in English he speaks into the phone: ‘Hello mister, two friends of you are here with a package’. I instantly think it’s the part to fix Dex’ driveshaft. Dex comes down into the lobby, pays the guys and takes the package. Really happy for him I ask him if it’s the part for the driveshaft he has been waiting for. ‘Ehrmm no’ he says ‘It’s … It’s something else, some other part’. We go to his hotelroom to discuss some things and he unravels what is in the package. A 1 liter bottle of whisky! Alcohol is for a tourist really hard to find in Iran since there are no bars and no alcohol is sold in stores. You just have to know someone to get it. So this made me happy and the rest of the night was very fun.

The next two days mainly consisted of sightseeing and getting a bit lost in Tehran. I had coffee with a few people from couchsurfing which was really cool and interesting. Their English was good so we were able to have a real conversation instead of the conversations with all the people that stop me on the street and ask me ‘Mister mister, what is your country?’ and ‘Iran, good?’. On the second day I spent all morning on my bike. I noticed that the repairshop in Tabriz had put my chain on way to tight. When I went to set it a bit looser I noticed that not only they had set it too tight. They didn’t put the back wheel in straight and they screwed up my chain oiler. Pretty stupid of me too not have checked this in Tabriz. I rode more than 600 km with a too tight, dry chain and a unaligned back wheel. I hope not too much damage is done. 20121214-193557.jpg
The way to Isfahan was all highway again. I took a small detour because it was too boring and I found a small village which was really beautiful with the snowy mountains in with the background. In Isfahan I check in at the hostel and meet a few other travelers. One of them is from Argentina. We figured out we were in the same hostel on the same day in Ankara a few weeks ago. Small world.20121214-193830.jpg
In the morning I went to extend my visa. Iran is big and very cheap so I don’t see any reason too rush through it to Pakistan. Also, everyone else has a 20 or 30 day visa and I don’t think it’s fair. I had to make passport photos again since the ones I have with me are of the wrong size and I needed to make a few copies of some documents. I took a cab to the ‘Department of Aliens Affairs’. My application to extend the visa was denied. I still have plenty of time to get to Pakistan so there is no reason to extend. But they tell me if I was short on time I would easily get an extension. They advise me to try it again in Shiraz. I think it is a bit upside down. I made a schedule to get too Pakistan within fifteen days. I want an extension too travel a bit slower without getting into trouble but instead of giving me the extension I’m told too delay on my schedule and then apply for the extension. That’s not really the way I like it but at least I know know that it is supposedly easy to extend if I’m short on time.20121214-193909.jpg
20121214-194101.jpgSo, lot’s of sightseeing and meeting people in Isfahan too. Really a pleasant city to be in. Currently I’m in Yazd where I will stay 2 nights before going to Shiraz and then to the border.

5 comments on “Iran

  1. Wauw!

  2. ali zeynali on said:

    thank you
    becouse you put my pic in your web
    i hop to see you

  3. hamid Nuzad_Ahmad Esmaeilyan on said:

    Hello _Tank you
    friendly ali zeynali
    City bazargan_maku

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