Friday, July 04, 2008

Out of the Pot and into the fire!

Early Saturday morning on the 21st of June I finally rode to the port in Sharjah, everything went well as I watched them sling my bike by crane up off the dock and down into the hull of the catamaran. As I stepped of the dock and onto the ferry I thought to myself I cant believe this was it I was leaving the UAE after such a long time, I almost felt I needed a well deserved rest but little did I know things would only become more interesting.

It was dark by time we docked in Bandar Abbas, Iran, since unloading was going to be awhile I went off and cleared immigration, no problems there, now all I have to do is collect my bike , clear customs and be off to town for some sleep, tomorrow Iran awaits. After immigration I went back to the ferry and after some time finally got my bike off and then road toward the gate. Of course now it was late and the reply from the man at the gate in Farsi was that the customs officers had gone home for the day and that I would have to leave my bike in the compound for the night. Reluctantly I parked the bike in the compound and got a taxi to town and after the third try at finding a cheap hotel found myself in a little room wondering how the next day would unfold.

The new day bought nothing but misery, straight to the port I went and walked in to collect my bike, I got within about 50 meters of the compound a security guard stopped me and after a few minutes I gathered I was not aloud to my bike and had to follow him, I did and he took to me to the office to collect a pass, ok this was no worries, fare enough, then back my bike to take it to Customs, still I was not aloud to take it out of the compound, the guard told me to wait and then he rode of on his 125cc and came back an age later with Mohammod and thank goodness for him as he spoke reasonable English. Together now we went to clear customs, immediately I was asked for my Carnet(that’s the bikes passport) which I do not have, I will say now I was aware I needed one for Iran and it was my own fault I got into this predicament I did and I do not recommend to any other people wanting to go to Iran without a carnet for their vehicle. I was told I can not enter Iran, shit what to do, we tried every effort we could and even had a meeting with the head of customs, the answer was ‘NO’.

They told me I had two options, transport the bike all the way across Iran by truck or go back to UAE. Neither where appealing but with all the hassle back to UAE was a thought, I was over it and I had only been gone a day. This took all day and Mohammod invited me to stay with him and his wife, very kind so I accepted and returned home with him again leaving my bike at the port. Of course I was not the best guest with my mind working overtime, what the hell to do?

Interesting part was when it was time for bed, Mohammad lay two thin matress's on the floor, stupidly I said 'oh great I will stack them on top of one another for more comfort', no silly me what was I thinking, Mohammad replied that he was sleeping next to me.....hmm I was a little worried....but woke in the morning with everything all ok!!!

The following morning saw me back to my favourite place, the port! This time I went and saw all the same people again and asked surely there is something they can do for me, showed them a world map of my journey and said that 40 other countries had let me come this far and that I hope Iran does not be the one to stop me, I could see there minds working and starting to think in a different direction. And then with a lot of umming and arghing they said to me ‘you will ride your bike across Iran’ bingo the very words I wanted to hear. Then began the biggest and longest paper trail I have ever been involved in, it took about 5 hours, 20 different people and about 15 different stamps to clear customs, by 3 o’clock I was riding, free to go!

It was bloody hot out here in the Iranian desert.

Nice load!

I have made good progress, I crossed the Eastern desert region of Iran straight to Mashhad, it was the hottest I have ever experienced in the entire trip, above 50 degrees. Every 50 kilometers there are little watering points, I would stop dowse myself in water and for the next 10 minutes it was like instant air conditioning until I dried out again.

Its slightly cooler here in Mashhad but in the next few days I have to go down to Tehran to apply for my Uzbekistan visa then back here to pick up my Turkmenistan visa, it’s a logistical nightmare trying to pass through this region but I am sure it will be all worth it once the visas are sorted, and the latest I here is Russia is almost impossible to get and China have stopped issuing visas, fantastic, I have a lot to look forward to.