Iran, another world!

Newsletter n°13

From Friday August 5 to Tuesday August 9, from Dogubayazit to Trabiz in Iran

Easy this entry in Iran

This Saturday, August 6, we are leaving Dogubayazit, a city located in a desert area in eastern Turkey and heading for Iran, another world. We still have 30 km to go before crossing the border.The road that takes us there is frequented by hundreds of trucks. The latter, about 6 km before the border are parked in huge car parks awaiting customs formalities. It is terribly hot there, their waiting time must seem very long and painful. 

By bicycle, it is easy to reach the border post between Turkey and Iran. Pedestrians and cyclists pass through the same airlocks which are very narrow and it is difficult for bicycles to enter. The Turkish customs officers are not very pleasant and they stare at us for a long time, no doubt to detect possible problems. In the end they end up affixing the stamps which allows us to access Iranian control. Unlike Turkey, it takes less than 10 minutes to clear Iranian customs. Here all photos are prohibited and to avoid any incident it is better to respect the ban.

That seems complicated

At the exit, a rather impressive crowd of people awaits us and offers us various services: accommodation, various aids and change. In Iran, there are three different currencies: the Rial, the toman and the new toman. It’s very complicated, especially since for 150 euros you receive almost 60 million rials. There are no coins, only banknotes, some of which have almost no value, the largest banknote of one million rials is worth 3 euros. We agree to change our money although it is illegal, it starts badly.

We leave the border area, but on the road like phenomena, we are constantly stopped either for a photo, or to offer us something to eat or drink. Our progress is relatively very slow and it must be admitted that it is disturbing.Sign that we are in Iran, the national flag flies everywhere.

Three holidays and a very local soup

To complicate our entry into this rather mysterious country, for our first three days in Iran, it is a public holiday throughout the country. Everything is closed including the restaurants. Difficult to find accommodation and food. The first night we sleep in the city of Maku. An unofficial guest house that a guy recommends to us on the street. The comfort there is quite basic, but it is not expensive. As it is a national holiday, Iranians are in the street and are singing loudly there, most of the night there will be noise, not easy to sleep. 

Sunday second day in Iran, we drive all day in a desert setting under very high heat. Only an isolated village on our route, and always difficult to find supplies. Fortunately an Iranian offers us a soup, it is thick and green in color. Without really knowing what was in it we swallowed it in one gulp. In the end, she wasn’t that bad. A very friendly owner will welcome us in his official Guest house and will prepare us a good meal to recover from a very difficult day. 

Monday is the last public holiday in the country. The heat is terrible, almost 45°C. We literally dry out on the spot and swallow more than 15 liters of water and soda during the day, a few drivers stop to give us fresh water. Everything is closed, we have to travel more than 110kms. It’s too hot to camp in the wild. We end the day exhausted with a private individual who will host us. 

Iranian hospitality

Tuesday, a beautiful day and the temperature was a little milder (35°C). On the other hand this morning the country woke up after this bank holiday weekend and the traffic became intense. The framework of our progress is always so exotic in the middle of these desert landscapes and magnificent mountains in red colors. We arrive quietly in Tabriz, a city with 1.5 million inhabitants. Traffic is insane, no red lights work, it’s anarchy. On a bicycle it is difficult to change direction because the cars want to pass at all costs. The signposts are in Persian and therefore incomprehensible to us.

An Iranian will help us to buy a Sim card because it’s a bit of a hassle when you don’t speak Persian. It will be a great help, to find the suitable store it will take no less than three hours.

Another world

After this holiday period, we discover life in Iran. A universe that we cannot imagine in Europe. Old cars, mostly Peugeots, people drive phones glued to their ears and pay no attention to pedestrians crossing.Of course the wearing of the veil for all women including foreigners, the crowd in the streets in an indescribable din, the buses with two compartments for men and women. We are really in a country with another culture and a total change of scenery.

Did you know :

In Iran, foreigners cannot pay or withdraw money with their bank cards. They must arrive in the country with sufficient cash for their stay

Did you know

Northern Iranians speak Azeri, a Turkic language. They use Persian writing which is unreadable for us Europeans. I let you look at the photos. 

Met :

Where are we

During these 6 days we traveled 334 kms.You can find the route on the attached map.

View full screen