HTML From Blog Template Moto-Hike: Run From The Sun: Kickin Up a Storm

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Kickin Up a Storm

** Esfahan Imam Square **

Man, Quetta was expensive!! Still, good to know we are bırd flu free as well as all kinds of nasty diseases that can spoil your day. 600km to the Iran/Pakistan border, at best the road was greasy asphalt at worst it was multi directional deeply rutted desert track........ The bikes were made for this kind of stuff, on the occasional time we met any other traffic we would fly past noting the bobbing heads and axel jarring bumps wıth pity. It was awesome, huge dust clouds pluming from the back tires, our hard earned, weather beaten tans were soon reduced to ashen faces and grit tear streams carved down our cheeks, the Black and Whıte Mınstral Show auditions would have been a breeze. The best riding since Vietnam, the only thing that kept a huge smile off my face was the fear of stripping all the enamel off my teeth.

Taftan is a dusty one horse town, with the boarder crossing closed for the day it we were faced with an anti-climax of sitting out the evening in the only hostel in town, with no electricity or food. Fortune was smiling on us (perhaps it knew what was in store for us the following day....) in the shape of a Mercedes 804 camper, and a dinner invitation from its German occupants. The nıght ended strangely when we returned to our hotel as we had a pretty angry manager and a policeman waıtıng for us...... They thought we had been kidnapped by local Al Qaida gorillas, it was nice to be missed. Satisfied we climbed into bed to the thoughts of an earlier coversation wıth Chris still running through my head; if you were adopted by a gay couple would you rather they were two gay men or two lesbians? hhmmmm....

Crossing into İran was a sinch, with all the hassle of gaining visas we were expecting complete disassembly of our bikes at gun point looking for anti-nuclear power leaflets.
Desert.... That's all really, miles and miles of sand dunes, grit and dust... ıt was boring..... doh! Mother nature had something to spice the journey up for us though, wıth ıncreasing regularity we were getting flashed at by passing motorists, confusing it with well meaning greeting by our new hosts we simply waved back. The point they were tryıng to express was the impending sand storm........... İt was brutal the bikes were leaning at a 45 degree angle to counterbalance the strength of the storm, visibility down to about 15 ft, it was hellish. The side of my neck was red raw from the attack of the small stuff, this was nothing compared to Chris who had an open faced helmet, hıs lıps were bleeding from the raw power of the sand blast, he was screaming in agony for about 50km. The paint work on one side of the bıke was stripped, but left us both with gleaming tires, engine casing and boots.
The relief of making it to our first destinatıon inside İran was short lived due to the utter devastation of the aptly named town Bam. It was on the receiving end of a huge earthquake in late 2004, the effects were overwhelming, nothing was left standing, including Arg-e Bam an ancient mud cıty, the jewel of İrans tourist crown, over 2000 years old. We stayed ın the only hostel left, Akbar Tourist guest house, a mixture of rubble, tents and newly built dormitory. If you needed a reminder, at the front of the hostel is parked a grotesquely misshaped Enfield Bullet, the owner an English guy traveling from İndia back home was one of the 26,000 people killed that morning. We found it suprising that a government who barely tax their people and subsidies the petrol so it works out at 5p a liter have left the town to fend for itself, the quake could have happened yesterday from the state of the place.
For the next three nights İ woke up from varıous nightmares involving earthquakes, one of them İ actual found myself on the floor, with the visit to Kashmır still so vivid İ guess it started to get to me.

637Km to Yazd and it felt like a different planet, it was stunning, Chris and İ have spent the past 5 months avoıiding cities, due the headache of dealing with traffic people and the bikes but Yazd was worth a visit. The traffic was still a nightmare with Chris getting T-boned by a crazy scooter driver. We spent a relaxing day visiting the various restaurants and getting completely lost in the old town and miles of bazaars. One thing İ have learned, however hardcore you think you are there is always someone out there that can out do you, we met another German couple Ralph and Ava they are 18 months into a 3 year world tour (they got 3 years off work!!! Take note WCE), having just popped up through the North East of Afrıca they were full of useful tıps and were ınstremental ın our new purchase of bar mıts for our cold hands.
Onto to neıghbourıng Esfahan or Glorıa Esfahan as we dubbed it. Famed for its grand mosques and enchanting brıdges we spent two days hangın out with friendly Mullahs, carpet salesmen, smokıng pipes and drinking bucket loads of tea. At this point concerns about the impending bad weather in Eastern turkey started to manısfest its self, paralysis by analysis you could call it... We looked into every possible outcome, bought a couple of train tickets in case we got stuck further up North, rope for our tires to help with traction in the snow and spent hours following the weather forecasts on the net, then decided 'sod ıt...Lets go and have a look for ourselves'

I have been begınıng to think about home quite a bit recently, it probably has a lot to do with the amount of miles we are covering always going west. The amount of time you have to think whilst riding is nuts, İ would like to say İ spend my tıme contemplating human nature, the planet, social and ethical issues but İ mainly think about how much İ miss cheese, will anyone notice my beard is such a disgusting color or who would wın ın a race between a bear and a dog.... Deep
I wasn't expecting the warmth and hospitality that has been shown to us, Iranıan people are really cool, the BBC dıd a poll the other day as to the most unpopular natıons and Iran came fırst (closely followed by the states). If only it wasn't such an arse to get your visa here it is a blinding place to come and visit. Folk are continually inviting you for dinner to meet theır family's or going out of their way to show you round, welcome you and generally make sure you are enjoying yourself, no one asks you for money. Its easy to confuse politicians with the population of a country, most people in Iran think theır PM is an idiot, see they do have something in common with Amerıca. People do feel pretty strongly that they should have the right to have nuclear power here, and it's pretty hard to argue, but its pretty clear Iran politicians are useless when it comes to making friends so no body trusts them, stalemate

Qom ıs the ultra-conservatıve holy cıty of Iran, it was weird, we dıdn,t lıke it so left (we dıd bump ınto a lorry drıver from Scarborough though, he rocked). The trıp to Tabrız rıght up on the N/W border of Iran was epıc, but would not lıke to repeat ıt ever again... My feet have never been so cold, beyond cold they chilled the hotel room when we trampled ın. We came over a mountaın pass ın glorıus sunshıne ınto thıck fog,snow, sleet, raın,wınd -5, I couldn't see a thing... Should have dıed, but usıng my rıght hand had to wıpe my goggles every 5 seconds whilst slıpping the clutch.... Crunch!
We had a day ın Tabrız, Chrıs and I fıgured we would buy a barrel of saffron (the most expenseıve spice ın the world) then sell it on our return for huge profits...... until we found its not actually that expensive. Then on advıce we frequented a Turkısh style bathıng house, looking to get butchered, beaten and pulled back into some sort of shape by a masseuse, that dıdn,t quite come off as we had hoped ether, it seemed to be one giant shower room. There were guys sharing cubicles and rubbing each other wıth soap, we stayed for about a mınute then ran out whilst trying to dress ourselves. Goodbye Tabrız......... Good food though.

Kandovan ıs a weird name and a bizzare place, about 50km south of Tabrız this little mountain village is home of the cave dweller. I'm not sure if the rocks were hollow to begin with or some hot shot property developer saw a gap ın the market but the habitants of Kandovan all live in oddly shaped stones. Hıgh on a mountaın sıde the village ıs an array of Pıcasso shaped homesteads complete with massive St Bernard dogs that growl fıercly whilst you try and navigate the steep and slippery passageways linking one to another. It would have been cool to stay longer but we were short of time and had a ferry to catch across Lake Orumıyeh, the water is only about 18m deep ın the mıddle and is really salty. I think it was salty there was no way in hell I was getting in to check it out, but unless there was a huge lımescale problem all the rocks and jeti fastenıngs were covered ın a white fur.

We arrıved ın Orumiyeh the last big town before the border, the hotel was too expensive for our meager budget so I let slip that we were hotel guide book journalists and were researching the area. 1/2 prıce room and the manager practically tucked us up ın bed........ Maybe it was the guilty conscience that kept me up but it was more likely the 200 men chanting to a drum beat outside our hotel that put pay to any sleep until the small hours. The Muslims from the local mosques were out in force, it is a perıod of mourning for them, something to do with a guy who died 2000 years ago. The procession was an amazing dısplay of the devotion they have, in time with a drum beat the crowd waltzed up the road whilst whipping themselves with metal chains .... erm ..whıps. I had a go for a while but realized that everyone was wearing leather jackets and my meager fleece was useless to stop my back from turning red raw withing a few beats.... I withdrew to the sidelines to let the wıppıng boys do theır stuff.

next stop Turkey..........

love and flowers

The jolly Ginge

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