Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The penny drops and so does my camera.

To reset the trip meter on the Triumph requires you to press one of the 3 heavy buttons on the speedo for about 3 seconds then scroll to the next and do the same. Then to reset the GPS trip meter requires a couple of presses before it asks you if you're sure you want to reset. I also notice the tracking function on the GPS has been switched off as well. Not too easy to do so I doubt this was an accident and if I wanted to conceal just how much mileage I'd covered, this is the way to do it. The penny drops. I'm not going to get angry at myself for being a fool, I want to have faith in people so I decide strongly to let it go, forgive myself for putting faith in others. Lets move on.

Steven and Jeroen
I've arrived in Tehran and catch up with Jeroen who's been waiting here for a few days. We were in Africa together on the Charley Boorman trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls a few years ago. He lives in Dubai and the short ferry ride brought him to South Iran, he thought it would be good idea to come with me through Iran and Pakistan.

I was a bit nervous of the Tehran traffic at first not knowing what to expect but despite the amount of cars and congestion, its fairly relaxed and I find the hotel quite easily.  The hotel room is fairly basic, well very basic really. The mattress is a board. The bathroom says, don't put paper down the WC. Where are you supposed to put it?... in the bin of course. Not me!  I don't care if I clog up the plumbing, I'm not putting shitty paper in the bin to collect flies stink the place out and bother me all night, no way.

on way to Esfahan
Despite the limited plumbing network I have to say, I'm amazed at the friendliness of the Iranians, I've lost count of the number of people I've waved to, or heard say "Welcome to Iran". They really are very nice people, eager to please and happy to see tourists in their country. No exception to this is Mohammed, a business colleague of my brother in law who lives in the fancy part of Tehran. He invites us over and we have dinner and some drinks. We're impressed with the hospitality of Mohammed and his beautiful wife who take care of us as there own, it feels. Thanks for that!

Sadly we're off on the road next day as we are well behind schedule, so next day head for Esfahan.

Abbas hotel grounds
Abbas hotel, Esfahan

Esfahan turns out to be my favourite place in Iran so far. The hotel is rather lavish but cheap by normal western standards. $100 buys a lovely room in a place that was once a palace for the Sultan. See some more info here. This is in my top ten hotels of all time.
This all changes tomorrow as we aim for Yazd, but for now we live like kings.

Esfahan is a lovely city with amazing architecture and gardens. More importantly we even manage real coffee at the local bazaar, magic!

As I'm travelling, I'm also filming a lot of events for TV. So there I was thinking, buying a flash memory camera instead of a hard drive or tape recorder type would guarantee that I'd never have mechanical problems with it. That was the theory.

I know it's not designed to be dropped, but when tested by mistake from around knee height to the ground I've found that that theory doesn't hold up. I was trying to set up the camera on the tripod quickly and didn't fit it correctly. It falls to the floor and I'm looking at a dead screen now. Fuck! Now what?

With a sick feeling in my stomach we continue on our trip to Yazd hoping to get it repaired whilst there, or at least have shipped to Tehran perhaps. I hope this will work whilst I'm in Iran as I might never see it again as  shipping out of Iran is difficult due to trade sanctions. In the end I decide to try a repair shop in Yazd, they are the official Sony repair people so there might be some hope. This idea turns to dust as I arrive at the scruffy building filled with broken TV's and rubbish on the street outside. The scarf covered girl at the desk takes the device and tells me to come back tomorrow. I cant wait this long and request they have quick look to see if it can be repaired. This is seems to be understood and she tells me to wait. Come back after lunchtime.
free repair shop

Waiting like an expectant father outside the shop for hours pacing up and down saying hello to locals who welcome me to Iran for what seemed like an eternity the shop people invite me in and hand over the once dead camera now fully working! I can't believe they fixed it here, in this backwater, but they do. Whats more, when I go to pay them for their work, they refuse! "It's a gift to you" says the owner. How amazing is that? I'm so impressed with the kindness of these people, can you ever imagine that in Australia, or UK?

I'd already said to Jeroen to leave me behind and head for Bam so I'm now some 4 hours behind him. When I arrive at the guest house, there three other guys with bikes there. David, from England and Martin and Richard from Austria. They are heading the same way us us so it makes sense to group together for part of the trip, especially the dangerous area of Baluchistan in Pakistans south west. I'm happy with this idea and we head out for tea.

A shower and change and I'm in local restaurant sitting on the floor eating yet more kebabs, yummy! but why can't we sit at a table for gods sake. We invented them for such events but here we are struggling to reach across a carpet spilling drinks and avoiding other peoples smelly feet specially bared for the occasion. My left hip is aching but the food and fake beer is good. I even try the Hubble bubble pipe, orange or mint ? Oh thank you I'll try both.  Time to go, I try to unfold my aching legs and have problems straightening up, I feel my age here, about 95 after todays mad ride and sitting folded up for an hour. That's the last time I'm eating dinner off the floor, maybe be quaint but utterly bloody stupid really.

Next day and the lhe last hundred kilometres or so to the border, we're escorted by police. This really slows us down and starts to drive us nuts. The petrol stations all use a card to issue petrol to tourists but as the police hang around, we find we cannot get any petrol suddenly. In the end we buy some overpriced black market low octane fuel from young kids right across from the police checkpoint! The police drive us there! My bike doesn't like it and pings and knocks to tell me so. I feel like I'm torturing my baby that has been so faithfully reliable, this is how I repay my bike for taking me almost 13,000kms across the world. Not good.

Sad hotel on Pakistan / Iran border
The next day were off to the nearest place to the pakistan border in readiness for the crossing the day after. Another, sad hotel, another sad toilet which is a hole in the floor, complete with cold shower and bed of wood. "Put the toilet paper in the bin" says the photocopied sign stuck on the wall. My mind goes back to the open bucket at the petrol station in Albania which nearly made me vomit. No way. I don't know why, but it's just not right.

I've raced through Iran to try to catch up on my schedule and didn't get time to visit a few places on my list but I probably don't need to for the moment. If there's one thing I can say is that the people are amazing. Everywhere in traffic, in streets, in shops and hotels, the people are amazingly friendly  We've been fed lunch by police, given fruit by some stranger when sitting on kerb waiting for fuel and I've had my camera fixed for free. The people are aware that they are not seen in best light overseas but they don't like their government, and many don't like the police. We had no trouble from either but feel saddened that the good people of Iran suffer for the sake of the politicians, Iranian or otherwise.

I've only had one week here but its left an good impression on me despite some hiccups along the way.

Esfahan bridge,  Iran
Shah square, Isfahan, Iran.

on the road in Iran
Abbas Hotel Esfahan, Iran

Banged up abroad in deepest Pakistan.


  1. Hello there ! Your blog is very informative and gracefully your guideline is very good.
    Matt Levine

  2. Nice.Thanks for sharing.I'm a regular reader of this blog.
    Sons of Essex