Iran January 1st to 11th 1999

I arrived late last year in Bam, driving in the dark which is quite dangerous since a lot of vehicles drives with no light and there might be a slow camel crossing the dessert road, you see them as roadkills on the side of the road blown up as balloons and ready to explode and you can't help thinking what happened to the other part, hopefully it was a big a truck.

But I wanted to make it to Bam which is one of my favorite places in Iran, and Zahedan, the next major town towards Pakistan, is the worst place I have visited on this tour. When I was there on my way to Pakistan children were hitting me when I stopped to inquire about where to find a hotel and the adults around just let it happen.

Zahedan lies very close to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and there is an estimate of 2 million refugees in Iran. Iran is actually the country which houses the most refugees in the world, not only from Afghanistan, but also Kurds from Iraq has found their way here. To an outsider it seems that there is a much greater tolerance towards minorities in Iran as f.ex. in Turkie where Kurds are not allowed to be thought their own language in schools, in Iran there even seems to be a Kurdish department at the university. Also there are Christian an Jew minorities around Iran. No I didn't find find Iran nearly as fundamentalistic as I would have thought, their leaders might be (or have been) but I am certain it is changing right now. The leaders have realized that if they don't change they will not have the support from the young generation, who now, if they could, would vote with their feet, and ıt just might drain the country for the people it might need most.

52-bam In Bam I visited the Arg-e Bam again and wondered is I really had to give up my plan to go to the United Arab Emirates. I could drive down to Bandar-e Abbas, make a visa at eh U.A.E consulate there, and take a ferry over, but that would mean that the poor customs people would lie sleepless wondering what had happened to their fine paperwork, and of course I couldn't have that on my conscience, besides the nice consul said that it would probably take 2 weeks to make the visa, and the the not so nice visa-police in Bandar-e Abbas would not extend my visa. I also tried to extend my visa in Yazd, again with no success, but finally on the 6th day of my 7 day visa I got an extension in Esfahan.

46-iran In Esfahan I again stayed privately for two days, again being the center of the universe. This being the month of Ramazan means that Muslims cannot eat or drink during daytime, but I was treated with both breakfast and lunch while the family was fasting.

I decided to take a western route towards Turkie on the way visiting a large pond cave near Hamadan. When I got there I was warmly welcomed as I probably would be the only tourist this day, and I was invited to see the caves free of charge, in summer they normally have 5000 tourists a day. The cave a quite large and you see them from a small boat which is dragged round the caves by a guide who sails a pedal driven boat, a very nice experience, so it didn't matter that it was freezing could outside. Before I left I was offered lunch - again with hosts keeping their fast.

54-sne I had been warned not to drive through Kordistan at this time of year, but I thought I would try anyway. I had this idea that it might be very cold, lots of snow on sides, but the roads would be clean and dry because the sun is quite powerfull here. Well this is probably the case most of the time except when it is snowing, which it did one day. I had quite a day when I was caught in the middle of a snowstorm. I didn't bring my snowchains so I had very big troubles getting a grip going uphill, not to mention the many times I lost control of the bike, and the beemer with all my luggage is pretty heavy to pick up especially if you can hardly stand on the icy surface. 55-arat It was getting pretty critical, my feet feeling cold and after a while I couldn't feel them at all which was kind of better but not very reassuring, but I finally made it to the top. Going downhill was easier, the main problem was to see the road, everything was white and you could only see 50 m in front of you, but it got better and better as I slowly got down and out of the clouds. And in good time before it got dark I found a hotel and settled for the day.

After this I took a safe route towards the Turkish border which I crossed with some troubles (ın Iran) but I made it. And Turkie welcomed me with a nice view of Mt Ararat, which had been covered in clouds when I was here six weeks ago.

Peter Lorenzen Petersen
DK 9000 Aalborg
DANMARK
Phone (+45) 98 16 76 97
-- peter@lorenzen.us
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