Were a little bit behind here due to the fact there was no internet in turkmenistan but now we’re in uzbekistan, so heres our iran update!
Firstly, i’d like to point out that neither of us has piles. When changing a relatively small amount of US dollars to Rials you find yourself with a pile of 20 000 notes (worth $2 each).
Secondly – Any and all preconceptions about Iran (apart from perhaps the heat) must be forgotten before reading on. In all the countries i’ve ever visited (this includes Pete) Iran has left the best impression. In a country ruled by an unpopular dictator lies a heart of people whos first two english phrases learnt are ‘hello’ and ‘can i help you?’. And they really mean it. Everybody wanted to stop and talk to us, even if we couldnt understand a word. There was an overwhelming sense that people as a whole resented the government and the international reputation it gave BUT were proud of their country and would go out of their way to make sure tourists leave with the same impression i have.
A few examples:
- In Tabriz, a couple of young lads left their family to drive us 15 minutes round trip to change some money
- A couple & young daughter offered to show us round Tehran, then came with us to a restaurant just to translate the menu
- A young lad saw we were lost, pulled up next to us, and took us to the right road, after we were invited back to his house as guests for lunch
- After stopping to take a few photos we were invited to spend the night at a young couple’s holiday villa on the caspian coast!
…there seemed to be no end to it, we even had people trying to shout between cars at 70mph. Seriously, these guys wrote the book on hospitality.
Unfortunately, the other bestseller in Iran seems to be ‘how to drive like a lunatic’. The blurb reads something like this…
Tired of dull, safe driving? Feel like a drive to the shops just isnt worth it without a near death experience? ‘How to drive like a lunatic’ will make sure your journey will keep the adrenaline pumping, underwear stained, and heart rate never below 160, whilst fully disregarding the safety of yourself and other road users, with full money back guarantee. Lessons include:
- Overtaking on blind corners
- Overtaking an overtaker
- No parking spaces? Use the middle lane!
- Minimising indicator use
- How never to give way
- How never to use headlights
Bonus pedestrian chapters including:
- pushing your cart the wrong way round a roundabout -the ultimate thrill-
As i write this post we’re soon due to cross over the border to turkmenistan. Our iranian journey began with our first bribe ($30 for a ‘service charge’ for getting through the border) and for a short while in another convoy with 3 ambulances from the rally, one of which had a minor crash in Tabriz, the roundabouts were chaos!
Its a good thing fuel here is so cheap (50p per litre ish) so we were happily diverting off course to experience iranian hospitality! It was a real shame to have to say goodbye to Eshan and Khorshid (with the villa on the coast). It was great to be able to fully converse with them, we had a great night making homemade cocktails with black market alcohol, and would have stayed another day if we werent on such a tight schedule.
So from there we’ve followed the coastline to a couple of hundred kilometres from the border, armed with our ‘we’ve had a wallets stolen’ story to try and avoid any more bribes in Turkmenistan. Fingers crossed!