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Travel reports

Moving over to the right

When we entered in Iran customs spared us to search the cars which made us glad since it saves time and nerves. What on the other side did not made us glad at all was the behaviour of the border staff, which, after taking our passports and Carnet documents for stamping, refused to hand them back to us and where not able (or willing?) to tell us why and when due to lack of English knowledge.
The sun was already quite low and, ironically, we now had to set our clocks back (another) 90 minutes due to arriving in a new time zone. Again we had to wait for the organization of an escort, because in Iran one has to drive with police escort till Bam behind Zahedan.

For eight hours we were on the road already, our nerves were a bit on the edge and watching our passports and carnets being handed over from one official to the other like them being a pizza box gave me the rest. When the escort was there and the officials still refused the return of our documents and giving any explanation, I started shouting loudly at the officials and demanded the return of our documents and gave them to understand that I would not move my car even a meter until they would give us back our documents.
Maybe by keeping our documents and passports they wanted to make sure we wouldn't go somewhere on our own. But by their behaviour the got more and more on my bad side and made this idea even more attractive to me...
The idea of standing there without passport made me fretful and fluttering. Nadine and Anje did send me away as soon as my choice of words was no longer appropriate and I was actually not far from becoming violent. There is a saying after which every person once in his lifetime should have spent some time in jail to actually understand and appreciate the feeling of freedom. To me, the opportunity was almost given. But it does not have to be an Iranian prison actually...

On the way to Zahedan
Polizei-Eskorte im Iran
Waiting in front of the police station
Waiting in front of the police station
Landscape near Zahedan
Police vehicle equipped with a machine gun

Eventually, we left the border towards Zahedan. Our passports and Carnets - hopefully - travelled with us in the car police ahead us. From me the officials had to expect no more friendliness. During the only 100 km long route to the city of Zahedan, I made it my mission to keep our passports in sight whenever the escorts changed. Nadine meanwhile tried intensively to control my mind.
During all this I acutally did not really notice that we were moving on well developed roads, and, moreover, on the other side of the street (in Iran and all of the following countries on our trip one has to drive on the right side of the street).

After arriving in Zahedan the police brought us to a hotel where we originally did not want to stay at all. The room rates were way above our limits and so we decided to spend the night in the cars. Nice thing with outside temperatures of 5°C. But on the other side this helped to 'cool down' my mind again.
Before that a waiter - an adult man - totally confused me by grabbing my hand like to young children would do and brought me to the hotel's kitchen to show me what they can serve after we asked them what the have and could not explain due to lack of English knowledge. During these two minutes which to me felt like half an hour the waiter did not stop holding my hand. Nadine, Anje und Izaak could not remain straight on their chairs. In India already we could watch men practicing 'intense' (as westerner you really could say so!) body contact. Men holding hands, putting arms over the other one's shoulder as well as kissing the other one's neck could be seen everywhere.

The next morning we were off to Bam and with this place out of the critical region of Balochistan (which also spreads in the southeastern part of Iran). After we were picked up from the hotel by our first escort this one led us to a police station where we had to wait not less than two hours until the next escort was there to finally bring us out of town. This brought my level of excitement almost back to the level of last evening.

But there was one thing that worked against bad mood: the petrol price! The Iranian Rial is a currency with a very small value (lcoals equal 1 US dollar with around 32,000 Rial). As foreigner we had to pay 10,000 Rial per litre of petrol. That makes 25 US dollar for 80 litres of petrol, which is payable if you ask me...

I already think about dismantling the bed and put a 2000 litre tank in the back of our Pajero ... for the further trip.

It took us the full day for the 300 km through the desert of Dasht-e Lut. Due to the numerous and in this country time-consuming change of the escorts as well as two flat tyres (both at a police car - both had been fixed using our own equipped since the police did not have any) it got 7pm before we arrived at the hotel in Bam. I was able to retrieve our passports and Carnets during the way to Bam already. Since that moment I did show the documents to the policemen when asked for but did not give them out of my hands anymore. In these first two days in Iran our documents experienced more wear and tear than in the last five months together.
Finally and fortunately with our arrival in Bam the police escorts were history and we got the chance to get our mind free and plan our further trip completely by ourselves, again.

Since our further routes were different as well as our driving habits (primarily the cruising speed), Anje and Izaak and we seperated, again. It should not have been the last time.

Landscape near Bam
Arriving in Bam
Arg-e in Bam

The next morning we went to see the 'Arg-e' in Bam, a ancient city which used to get build up of mud but got destroyed after a heavy earthquake in 2003. Since that time it is getting rebuild.

After that we followed the well-developed two-lane road through the endless seeming desert to Yazd. The even terrain often allowed us to get an overview over the upcoming 10 km. Even better in that were the numerous radar control (speed controls) by the police along the road. Why the use to have that 110 km/h speed limit on their great and safe roads is as hard to understand as the one at the expressway in Myanmar.

Nevertheless one can travel quickly through the country. One easily can drive 100 km in hour (if one wants so). An impossible thing in Pakistan and India.

In Yazd we could not wait to explore the historical old city. Here one immediately realises being in the Orient.
While there are the mausoleum of Sayyed Roknaddin with its typically Persian ornaments and the the Jameh mosque with its in nighttime blue shining minarets are waiting to be visited one can walk through narrow alleys and see traditional houses with their typical open yards and small pools and huge vine branches. We enjoy flatbread, feta cheese and cucumber or kebab for food.
And finally one cannot leave an Iranian town without having been to the local bazar to get a read in the local's everyday life.
If one climbs on the roof top of building in Yazd and overlooks the neighbouring buildings he or she will spot numerous tower-like constructions on top of them - the so-called badgirs. They catch even the lightest breeze and carry them into the rooms below - a natural air conditioning so to say.

Bogeh-ye Sayyed Roknaddin dome in Yazd
Bogeh-ye Sayyed Roknaddin dome in Yazd
Jameh mosque in Yazd
Inner yard of a hotel in Yazd
Typical alley in Yazd
Khan-e Lari in Yazd

In the hotel we spent a lot of our time in the sheltered and heated inner yard with its comfy seating areas. Here we did meet some of other overlanders who came to Iran from Europe. Again a welcome opportunity to get to know new people and exchange experiences and advices.