Bitter-Sweet entry into Iran
The time has finally come to cycle into Iran, one of the countries I’ve been waiting a long time to visit.
It was a beautiful, windless morning and had a slight decline towards the border, which was about 80km away. When I smell a border, I get exited and always tend to cycle much faster than usual… and this was once again the case. I was planning to hit the border at 13:00, but arrived just before 10am.
It was probably the busiest border I have ever seen (for the trucks), as they were standing and waiting for 8km’s… the kind of line I don’t want to be in. I glided past them, waving, as they were having breakfast or playing games in the shadows of the heavy loaded trucks. I cycle past a few boys that kept asking for money (which I don’t mind) but they really got irritating at times. They will walk into the road, stand right in my way as Im approaching at 30km/h and don’t get out of the way… playing chicken. This one cubby boy kept screaming “money money money” and when I did not to give him money, he threw me with a stick he had in his hands. He would not have been the best cricket player, as it was a really bad throw, but I hated this reaction from him. I pulled my brakes, stopped in the middle of the road, ran to the stick, picked it up… and then ran after him. I just wanted to scare him and it worked… he ran away faster than Usain Bolt and did not look back once. Smiling, I jumped back on the bike and continued to the border.
The border crossing went fast, but the skinny, dark haired Turkey official kept asking for some sort of papers in Turkish and then my Visa… which was electronic, but luckily I took a photo of it (from the computer). He rushed me along as there was people standing behind me. I hate being rushed to do something… just chill, I’ll get everything you need! I handed him everything and got my Turkey exit stamp as a reward. Being in the building with my bicycle some other official now showed me around the building that I can continue towards the Iran Border. So he rushed me out of the building and showed where I need to go. The two Iranian officials was very friendly and got the stamp within two minutes. They asked me where I was going and insisted that I visit Esfahan, where they were from. They did not check my luggage, bike or asked for anything more than my beautiful green South African passport. Boom!!!! Im in Iran!!
It was quite an entry into the country, as massive intimidating, rough, dark looking mountains surrounded me as I cycled through them. I had a quick lunch and nap 20km’s from the border and then continue with my day. I was flying, even with a slight headwind.
As usual my mind was in another world, while listening to some tunes… And then…. 70km from the border…. I remembered!!!!! I forgot my stamps….. The one thing that I had to do on the border and I forgot….
I screamed, shouted, swearing and hitting my handlebar… I forgot!!!
The stamps…. When you buy something in Turkey, you can claim some of the money back (the tax), like in most countries. Saying this, I had forms, stating I brought my bicycle, bags, accessories and my new iPod (my old one was stolen in Bulgaria). This forms need to be stamped and send back to Turkey… YOU NEED THE STAMP FROM THE CUSTOMS!!! Otherwise you are not able to claim back the money. For a moment I really wanted to cry, as this money is really important!! This would have been my money for most of my Asian Visas. I really hope there is some sort of thing I can do, but I doubt it… I am really a fu*king idiot. This money is a big part to get me through Asia!!
Frustrated I continued and just kept going, as there was nothing I could do at this point. I looked down, I peddled the living shit out of my bike, and did not stop. I reached my longest distance in Asia, after doing two 150’s the previous two days… a massive 187km for the day!
As I got to the town of Qarahziyaeddin I met two other cyclists, as they are cycling from Tabriz (Iran) to Turkey. We decided to find a camping spot together, but was this a huge balls-up… We cycled into the centre of town, looking for a patch of grass or a park. We arrived at the park and the next moment we were surrounded by 30 – 50 locals. This was a bit overwhelming. Everybody pushing others away to ask us questions, take photos and touch the bicycles. After 5 minutes we looked at each other and decided… this is not going to work.
We cycled away and the other two had a cell number of a local in this town which they got from another host in Iran, which they called. We met up with the guy and he said we can sleep in his office (he is a vet). Happy to be away from the massive and very curious crowd, but the office was probably one of the hottest places I’ve ever been in. It was difficult to get a proper rest, waking up a few times, in a pool of sweat.
Crazy day with awesome Iranian people I already met, where they offered me Cay, cold water and one gave me an ice cold Coke! Also managed a huge distance and finally entered Iran. All of this was spoiled with the customs stamps… Really hope I can sort it out. Oooo… And I found out you cant draw ANY money in Iran!!! This is going to be VERY interesting, as I only have $30 left!!!
Cheers for now