Things have worked out very well. I had a slow morning leaving camp as I spent some time getting my sports camera up and running and filming the start of my Iran video. I haven’t used the camera in a long time and the micro SD card had corrupted, so I messed around for a while to get it back in order. My idea is to make the Iran video a bit more of a video diary whereby I record the day-to-day details of the journey a little more than usual, providing deeper insight into what it’s like from my perspective.
I really enjoyed the ride into Astara. I continued along the track I camped beside and it popped out onto a good road running alongside the Caspian Sea. The area had a quiet seaside vibe to it and, like yesterday, the people were excessively welcoming. I rode through Astara until I came across a market shop, where I spent the last of my money on food. I then followed little blue signs saying “Iran I.R.”, figuring they would probably lead me to the border crossing. They did. Passing through was incredibly easy. Neither side were interested in checking out my bike or luggage, so I simply answered a few friendly questions (Do you like Azerbaijan? Where do you go in Iran?) as I was stamped out of one country and into the next. On the Iranian side, I made a quick before hitting the road, all the while knocking back money exchange offers from men crowding around the border.
My phone ran out of battery so I didn’t have a map to navigate with. This is didn’t bother me, however, as I knew I simply needed to head south. On my way out of town I passed a row of shops with mobile phones on display. I stopped at one and organised a SIM card so I have internet access on hand. I’d hardly ridden 3km out of town when a man on the side of the road waved me down. A first I rode passed him, saying hello, thinking I wanted to make a greater distance before I succumbed to the onslaught of people wanting me to stop and chat every five minutes. The guy jumped in his van and came up beside me, insisting I pull over. I did. The guy’s name is Mr Hossein. He is 70 years old and works as a travel guide, mostly escorting British, Americans and Canadians across the country on overland trips (these nationalities require guides). His website is iranoverland.com. He invited me to camp at his place, which was about 5km away. On the way there we stopped at a little shop and had some tea with his friends. Once arrived at his house, which is located in a little village away from the main road, he offered me a room in the house for US$10. I was still welcome to camp if I wanted, but otherwise I could enjoy a room, shower, WiFi, kitchen and breakfast. I thought about for a few minutes before accepting the offer. Having such accommodation means I can recharge all my camera batteries and do some proper research about how I will spend my time in Iran. I showered, made myself lunch, then did a load of clothes washing. While Mr Hossein went for an evening jog, I got stuck into reading his Lonely Planet book on Iran, photographing relevant information as I went. I made use of his kitchen to cook myself a pasta dish.
When Mr Hossein got back we sat down together to look at a map. I was hoping for some useful information about my planned route, but didn’t really come away with a better understanding. This is because I plan on travel small roads about which Mr Hossein didn’t know anything. The main thing I learned is that the terrain will be challenging. I feel ready for some hills again though. While I didn’t glean any great information this evening, I hope to have a good chat with Mr Hossein about the Kurdistan region in the morning. This is where I hope to spend most of my time while in Iran, and it just so happens that Mr Hossein is Kurdish.
|Distance ridden today||26.78km|
|Average cycling speed||15.9kph|
|Total distance ridden||23,632km|