Iran Part 1 – Bandar Abbas – Shiraz

Our trip started great. A day before our scheduled departure we got a phonecall from the ferry company saying that the ferry we booked for got cancelled due to bad weather but that we could either 1) wait one week and catch the next one from Dubai to Bandar Lengeh or 2) Take one today from Sjarjah to Bandar Abbas. Not wanting to spend another week in Dubai we opted for the same day departure, but that meant that we had to be in the port in Sjarjah 4 hours later.

The ferry ride was smooth, there was quite a bit of waiting involved at both ports for customs, and of course we got questioned a bit upon arrival in Iran, where we were going, if we are married, why we go on bicycles etc. but after a few minutes we were reunited with our bikes – no one ever bothered to check our luggage.

Bikes on the ferry
Bikes on the ferry

So off we were! Heading into Bandar Abbas to find a money exchange, which only took us an hour and a half to locate. The money here is very confusing: it has way too many zeros (we are millionaires again, it’s been a while since Indonesia) and to make things even worse the official currency is Iranian Rial (IRR) but in daily life everyone talks about ‘tomans’, which is the same number but with a zero less. Prices quoted on items, menus and pricelists might be in either, so sometimes we are convinced that we scored a really good deal, except that when we pay the item turns out to be ten times more expensive. Oh well, we will learn. Eventually. I guess. The good news is that Iran is pretty cheap.

We decided not to stay in Bandar Abbas but to head out of the city following the coastal road. There were flamingos.

Flamingoes!
Flamingoes!

I don’t want to bother you with too many details, so I’ll just give you a quick summary of things that went wrong and things that are going very well.

Things that are going very well

+ Iranian food is amazing.

+ Antonio is a really good camp chef, although it takes an average of 1.5 hours to prepare dinner.

+ Our campsites have been pretty amazing so far (see photos below).

+ There has been a surprising lack of mosquitoes.

+ The weather has been fantastic. No rain, no bad headwinds.

+ No one has crashed their bike yet.

+ After the blown-up inner tube incident on the ferry (!) no one has had any punctures.

+ We have spotted camels, a fox, eagles and lots of other nice birds.

+ I only nearly strangled myself once in my hijab when it got all twisted up in my handbag.

+ Only 50% of the team has a sore bum.

+ We sleep like kings in our tent. Also, our tent hasn’t collapsed yet, against all expectations.

+ Iranians are absolutely amazing. People have stopped on the side of the road to give us yoghurt, water, softdrinks, a liter of milk (?) and tea and lots of encouraging honks and shouts. Men constantly shake Antonio’s hand (but not mine, of course). We have been invited for dinners and to stay at people’s houses. 

Things that are not going so well

– Our understanding of the local currency.

– Getting mobile internet to work (it just doesn’t).

– Finding internet in general.

– Antonio’s knee got very sore, especially on uphills. Not wanting to get stranded in the middle of the desert with a screwed knee we decided to hitch a ride to Lar (where there is at least a hotel and a hospital), so we stopped a bus at a police checkpoint and asked if they could take us. Sure, no problem! Luckily for us the bus turned out to go all the way to Shiraz so we made up our minds quickly and decided to go all the way there, so Antonio’s knee could have a rest and we could get some things sorted (a new spare inner tube, the things we forgot to buy in Dubai, and maybe even mobile internet?). Not sure if the problem is just his knee of if a quick adjustment of the bike can fix the problem, we’ll try later today.

Overall, a pretty good balance I’d say, apart from the knee situation. We’ll keep you posted!

And for now: the photos

First campsite near Bandar Abbas.
First campsite near Bandar Abbas.
Ambulance station cuisine
Ambulance station cuisine
Pretty scenery - a saltwater river
Pretty scenery – a saltwater river
2nd camp. Next to endless fields of tomatoes where harvest was in full swing
2nd camp. Next to endless fields of tomatoes where harvest was in full swing
Morning view.
Morning view.

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An abandoned caravanserai. The pointy buildings are water basins with big openings on 4 sides so the wind keeps the water cool
An abandoned caravanserai. The pointy buildings are water basins with big openings on 4 sides so the wind keeps the water cool
Camp 3.
Camp 3.
The scenery. Not that different from Oman.
The scenery. Not that different from Oman.
Our host Farzan and his family demonstrating a traditional Iranian instrument. Very beautiful!
Our host Farzan and his family demonstrating a traditional Iranian instrument. Very beautiful!
And Antonio giving it a shot - I was too busy taking photos of course.
And Antonio giving it a shot – I was too busy taking photos of course.
In a teahouse in the bazar.
In a teahouse in the bazar.
Lunch. The drink in the bottles is 'Doogh' - a yoghurt drink very similar to Laban but better
Lunch. The drink in the bottles is ‘Doogh’ – a yoghurt drink very similar to Laban but better
Breakfast picnic in Shiraz.  The amazing Iranian bread with some kind of bean and barley soup - delicious!
Breakfast picnic in Shiraz. The amazing Iranian bread with some kind of bean and barley soup – delicious!

 

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