Turkey - Dogubayasit - Tabriz Iran PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 19:33
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Dogubayasit - Tabriz Iran
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Day 20: Dogubayasit to Tabriz Iran Friday 12th October

So far I have been lucky to be task free on the bus but on Tuesday I became a packer. Today is the first time we the team have had difficulty packing all the bags, rucksacks, sleeping bags and tents into the holds. Things this morning were made even worse by the effects of last night's party on some of the team and the excellent breakfast cooked by the new breakfast crew. This was the first hot breakfast since leaving home and although I can't really say I'm missing them it was rather nice to have a make shift full English breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, beans and toast.

As we drove out of the campsite I was immediately struck by the enormous presence of Mt Aryrat looming over the road ahead and like a burkha clad beautiful young women had shed the veil of cloud that had kept its snow-capped secret from prying eyes the night before. She accompanied us for much of the way to the Turkish border; first on one side of the bus and then on the other as the vehicle snaked its way over the hills to Iran. We arrived at the Iranian side of the border at 9.00am and I was sad to say goodbye to the beautiful and varied Turkish landscape and people. I will definitely make my way back down this way Allah willing.

It's now 2.05pm and we're still in no mans land having had our passports and visas checked. We are now waiting to have the bus frisked and x-rayed by the guards. We've just spent over two hours in a lounge area watching where the programmes consisted of an Iranian type soap, to be expected, a football match, also to be expected, a documentary about the Cuban revolution and Mr Bean, not to be expected. This could be a sign that all is not well in the Islamic world. Leighton has just announced to the exceptionally patient coach 'welcome to Iran'. We have entered without a full search and I have used the time bringing my blog notes up to date for the very first time.

The road ahead, from the border, looks exactly like the one behind us with an horizon of large mountains. As we head down the road to Tabriz our guide Hussein takes the microphone and announces 'welcome to this fucking prison of Iran'. 'This f...... prison of the Mullahs'. 'Wherever there is religion and the f....... British government there is f...... intrigue and we the people of Iran suffer. He then took us through some useful phrases and said he could arrange black-market booze if we wished.

For anyone out there who is interested in driving through Iran the coach has just taken on a hundred and fifty litre of diesel for two Euro. Wow! We have now been driving down the road to Tabriz for a couple of hours and mountains, not as high as in Turkey, line both sides of the road. These are more like rolling hills that remind me of the coal spoils' of South Yorkshire, once they'd been landscaped. Anne just described them like the wrinkles on a bloodhound's face which I think is a better description. The further we travel into this forbidden land the fields seem to push the hills away from the road and the wide expanse is filled with shrubs interspersed with lines of beach and Aspen trees, the odd apple orchard and strangely at this time of the year sunflowers still in flower. Sunflowers bloom in October.

It's now 6.15pm and the sun has set throwing the hills, the trees and the shrubs into a silhouette reminiscent of Tuscany. Peter Moore in his book The Wrong Way Home described them as 'broken, twisted and foreboding'. Perhaps they would be if travelling alone, however, on a bus with your own makeshift family they are beautiful.

Our guide as suddenly changed into a traveling bank with an exchange rate not much better than the money sharks at the border. With just hundred pounds of sterling you can become a rial millionaire at an exchange rate of 18,000 to the pound. I have just bought a six pack of one and half litre bottles of water for a hefty 20,000 rial. I was convinced he was ripping me off until Marcus looked at his exchange calculator and said about one pound twenty.

We arrived at Tabriz at about 7.00pm to find that the hotel was an oven. All the rooms had heaters blowing out hot air. Took nearly an a hour to cool the room down. After a shower we all set off to find food. We were advised by our guide that few restaurants would be open because it was Friday and he was right. The hotel had a restaurant that was opened but the menu consisted of soup, chicken and rice a combination very familiar to the Morris lads back home and one I still find hard to try again even after two years. On going to the hotel restaurant I felt physically sick because of the heat. We all decided to follow our guide Hussein to what we thought would be down town Tabriz. As we walked along we were seen as visibly different by the locals who wanted to say hello. After passing shop after shop of the most appalling furniture those in the lead disappeared into a pizza/ beefburgher bar. The general consensus was to stay and because we were told to keep together we were forced by circumstances to spend our first night in Iran, old Persia, eating the worse pizza I have ever had with two cans of Bavarian non-alcoholic beer. The bill for the two of us was 80,000 rial or just over £4. I returned to the hotel rather down, I couldn't for the life of me see how they could have a good night out without a glass or two of wine. Before our food arrived an Iranian couple asked if their lovely young daughter could be photographed with us which then led to them sitting with us throughout the meal. We exchanged basic information: names, occupations: they were both teachers, him in the university and they wanted our address and email account. I am not sure why they wanted it neither spoke much better English than our Farci but we'll see. By the way in case you're wondering my Farci extends from thank you Merci to bread naan.

Had the worse night's sleep since leaving home. There were a number reasons for this: firstly the room was boiling, secondly had to open the window which let in the din from god knows where because the streets were empty and three I was scratching from the first bites of the journey. Oh and I forgot number fourthly I went to bed for the first time for many, many years without a drop of alcohol in my body. I'll let you decide the main reason for my bad nights slumber. Anne was very
unkind and in no doubt at 2.00am this morning as I tossed and turned.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 February 2012 16:49