10 June Astara – Jokandan - 82km
The border crossing into Iran was
no less hectic than others (no-mans-land was a bit of an
obstacle course, and we waited for ages before being cleared to
enter). There was also some misunderstanding regarding whether
we needed documents for the bicycles. Once in Iran we
discovered, with a shock, that there was no ATM or bank where
one could draw money. If only we knew this, we could have drawn
money in Azerbaijan. 0n top of that I still had to spend my
last bit of money on a head scarf and long sleeve shirt, as here
it is law to cover yourself from head to toe. Another male
chauvinist society!! I can’t believe I chose to cycle through
another Islamic country. Here it is even worse than in the
other countries, with people totally discounting me, and only
speaking to Ernest, as if I don’t exist.
The scenery is however lush and
green and one can hardly believe you are in Iran. They even
grow rice!! The coast along the Caspian Sea is rather dirty but
still a nice place to stop and have a break.
11 June - Jokandan – Hashtpar
I friendly man in a large town
bought us some cake and bread (in exchange for an interview – he
was a local newsreporter), and then proceeded to take us to the
beach were we could camp. Unfortunately the beach was right in
front of the promenade, so we had a constant procession of
spectators till late that night. The people here seem to live
at night, as it is extremely hot in the day. So no rest for the
wicked, I could not even take off my headscarf and long sleeve
shirt. Definitely no washing tonight.
12 June - Hastpar –
Rushar - 125km
We woke with women walking and
jogging on the beach, fully covered which is quite a site. They
must be dying of the heat. Ernest fried himself some eggs for
breakfast and that drew even more spectators. We lost our way a
bit as we wanted to cycle along the coast but found ourselves on
an inland road. Eventually we came out at the coast again. We
also, for the first time, saw a women driver. She even stopped
and gave us some fruit. Camped on soccer field between the
coast and the road. If only one could have a swim!! I’m
getting really fed up with this headscarf and long pants and
long sleeve shirt. I’m hot stinky and my head itches.
13 June - Rushar – Chaluse -
No a bad day, all along the coast
with a slight tail wind. Got invited into a tea house were we
had tea and mint flavored yogurt (not so nice). Camping places
change from country to country. Here one can also camp at any
given spot but the most popular seems to be at a mosque. So we
set up camp at a mosque and found that there were various other
people also camping there. The main reason is because there is
water and toilets as well as a nice lawn. We have turned away
from the coast on the road to Tehran. Immediately it was not as
humid as at the coast and a bit cooler.
14 June - 70km
15 June - 92km
16-25 June - Karaj – Tehran -
This is summer in Iran!!! It
is stinking hot, as we cycled the short distance into Tehran.
What a busy and large city! Eventually we found a cheap hotel
(The Mashhad Hotel) and lo-and-behold, we bumped into Martin
there (who we met on the ferry from Sudan – and last seen in
Cairo). Now it was time to try and get money sent to us and to
sort out some visas. Just to find that they have sent the LOI
for Uzbekistan to Baku instead of to Tehran!! To redirect it to
Tehran will take a further 5-7 days. My sister, Amanda, had a
battle of her own to try and send money to Iran. What a
performance, now we just need to wait for it to arrive and wait
for the LOI for Uzbekistan to come through.
We decided to also look into
the possibility of cycling via Pakistan and India to China,
which should be less of a visa problem.
We waited and waited, but no
LIO and no money, every day I’m at the bank, just for them to
tell me it is still not there!! We also applied for a Pakistani
visa and even that is taking forever!!
Everyone at the Mashhad Hotel
is in the same boat, everyone is waiting for something. There is
not really a reason for staying in Tehran other than getting
visas. It is extremely hot and one can do little more than lie
in your room and wait. The air is so polluted that one can’t
even see the surrounding mountains, I’m sure it is also the
reason for my constant headache.
What a strange country this
is!! There is no satellite TV or even ADSL lines, so the
internet is all still dial up. Definitely no alcohol, but I
understand that it is easily available if you know the right
people. One thing about the Iranian people is that they are
extremely helpful and there is constantly someone asking if they
can help you find a bus, taxi or metro.
After a week of waiting I
received an email from my sister, Amanda, saying that the money
has been returned to South Africa and that there is no way of
getting money sent to Iran!!! Now our situation was desperate.
We have already reverted to eating bread (nuun) and water and we
have not paid for the hotel for the past 5 days. We heard about
a travel agent that can arrange money via a Dubai account, so we
went to see him. He proceeded to give us 300US dollars and said
we can pay it into his account!! What trusting people the
Iranians are. Well with the money we could pay for our hotel as
well as the Pakistani visa. What a relief!! Still not enough to
get us to the border, which is app. 1500km from Tehran. By this
time there was hardly enough time left on our visas to make it
to the border. As in theory we now had to do app. 150km every
day to make it to the border in time.
26 June - Tehran – Qom Rest
area - 124km
We left Tehran as early as
possible but already the heat was stifling. As if that was not
bad enough, we were also cycling into a head wind. Maybe cycling
though Iran to Pakistan in the height of summer was not such a
smart move. The heat appears to be at its worst between 14h00 –
18h00. It seems that one can just not drink enough water to keep
hydrated and the warm water makes me feel nauseous in the heat.
We managed to do 124km before camping at a rest area with petrol
station and restaurants.
27 June - Rest area – Kashan
Petrol station - 113km
Once again we woke at sunrise
and left as soon as possible, but that made no difference, as
the heat soon became quite unbearable. I drank as much as
possible but it only proceeded to make me more nauseous. I felt
weak from an upset stomach but we battled on against a head wind
(again). The going was really slow (due to me) and I felt that
Ernest was getting a bit annoyed with me for going so slowly. He
wanted to get to the border before our visas expired and was not
keen on taking a bus. I had no energy left by the time we
decided to call it a day, and to crown it all I proceeded to
puke right in front of the people!! How embarrassing!!
28 June – Kashan Petrol
station - Kerman - 28km & by bus
By the time we left that
morning I was still not feeling well, and quite weak. As we had
little money we only had a tin of beans to eat the night before.
After a short while I realized that I was holding Ernest up, and
he did not want to go ahead alone. So, at a Toll gate I decided
to wait for a bus while Ernest carried on. It was a long wait
for a bus going in the direction I wanted to go. Eventually a
bus arrived which appeared to go quite close to the Pakistan
border. The bus drivers were extremely nice and only charged me
8000 toman (less than 10 U$). On the bus I met Fariba, a very
nice lady living in Kerman. She invited me to stay with them for
the night. The bus only arrived in Kerman at around 1h00. So I
accepted and even had a nice shower. I slept on the sofa and Fariba and her husband, Mehran slept outside in the courtyard.
29 June - Kerman – Zahedan
We only woke at 9h00 and had
breakfast consisting of bread (nuun) cheese, nuts and halva.
Fariba escorted me to the bus station, where I got a bus to
Zahedan. On the bus I met another very nice student, Nargess, on
her way home after the closing of term (the bus ticket was 6 000
Toman). I know I’m going on about this, but the heat was truly
unbearable (like Southern-Namibia in December). From Bam the
road crossed the desert and there appeared to be very little
water along the way. (Hope Ernest will be all right). The
scenery and structures resemble Sudan so much one can easily
think you’re in another country. Once again the bus only arrived
at around 24h00 in Zahedan and Nargess invited me to come and
stay at their house. What a luxury house it was. Double storey
with air-con!!! Communication is quite hard as they do not
speak English and I no Farsi.
30 June - Zahedan
The people of the house only rise
at around 10h00 – 12h00. Here everyone lives at night and sleeps
in the day. This is about the best thing to do as the heat us
unbearable in the day. They fed me until bursting point with
rice, noodles and fruit.
31 July - Zahedan
They insisted on me staying
another day, so I used the opportunity to do some laundry and
just lay about. Once again I was fed with all kinds of food.
Wow, one can only eat so much and no more.
1 July -
Zahedan to Pakistan border.
I insisted on leaving for
Pakistan, but there was no way they wanted me to cycle to the
border, apparently it is not safe!! So they insisted that I
take a taxi, they even paid for the taxi!! There was no way
they would except my money (I still had a bit left), so in the
end I gave up and got on the taxi for the border, loaded with a
huge bag of food. The drive to the border was through a real
moon-scape area. At last I was out of Iran, although the people
are extremely helpful and friendly I did not like Iran as much
as the other countries, must be my anti-authoritarian attitude!!