Chasing Rainbows, RTW on a H.A.T.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gperkins, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    Taking longer to cross a border getting out of a country than going in, what is it with that?

    I took me longer to get out of Russia than to get into it. The bike and my luggage went under a heap of inspection coming out.

    Enjoying your pics of Iran, cheers from a cold wet NZ (oh and btw, the All Blacks thumped the Wallies, err Wallabies on Saturday in the first Bedisloe Cup test :nod )
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  2. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

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    Great update :-)
  3. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Maaaaaate, we've gotta let you Kiwi's win something, we pretty much whip you at everything else, oh except maybe curling. :ksteve
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  4. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Thanks Shaggie, we are back in the land of half decent wifi, so I'll give it a go, photos that is.
  5. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Who out there has heard of the Iranian custom of Taarof? I had, but was not fully attuned to the nuances of the custom until a fellow inmate pointed me in the right direction. In brief, often when making a transaction here in Iran, for example negotiating a room price for the night. The hotelier or any manor of other retailers will respond, "no sir, for you the price is for free, no cost". Now what maybe going on here is Taarof, the Iranian custom of being overly polite when in negotiation. Now, if we are to respond correctly, as per the "rules" of Taarof, then we shall insist, "well no sir, of course I shall pay, please what is the price"? Now this little game of charades will go back and forth until each party comes to an amicable agreement and a price is settled. But here's the twist, sometimes, often even, Iranian's as a gesture of goodwill will genuinely offer a good or service for free. So as a novice to Taarof how do you pick these moments? i don't know, it's bloody confusing. If you aren't already confused, you will be once you read this, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taarof

    One of these moments occurred to us two nights ago when we bought a simple felafel dinner in the town of Marvdasht. After insisting possibly 6 times or more to pay, the restauranteur simply would not accept payment. It became very obvious that this was a genuine gesture of goodwill to foreigners and visitors to Iran. It is quite humbling in fact and makes our visit to Iran a unique and memorable one.

    So the main reason to spend the night in Marvdasht was to get an early start the following morning for a look see around the ancient Persian ruins of Persepolis. This was the cultural and religious base for Darius the Great. It wasn't quite as large as I thought it may have been, but no matter, it was still well worth the effort to get here. Trouble was Alexander the Great got here before we tourists and he did what Alexander does best, wrecked the joint. At least most historians put the blame at his feet, as pay back, after Darius left Athens in a similar state after he made a call to Alexanders backyard previously. Before Alexander left, for more conquests to the east, he emptied Darius's treasury of all it's wealth. Apparently this required the use of 3000 camels to carry it all off. Now thats some plundering! :nod

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    Grafiti is as old as antiquity itself.
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    The remains of Darius's treasury.
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  6. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    If the Taarof won't befuddle you, the money will. The currency here is the Rial and like many country's throughout this part of the world inflation has run amok. Currently $1 US = 38000 Rials. Yep more huge wads of notes in the pocket. Because of sanctions and and we won't get political here, none of the usual credit cards work in Iran. So you must enter Iran with a good amount of any of the recognised hard currency's, hell even Aussie dollars will suffice, sucre bleu, how did that come about? :imaposer But I digress, typically when you come through here you'll carry either Euro's or $US, but unless you are paying for accomodation these currency's aren't typically accepted. Banks will change your foreign exchange for the local stuff, but you get a lousy rate, so it's out into the street that you have to go to hustle up a deal. A good place to start is "gold" street. Every self respecting city in Iran has a street selling gold, so thats where you head to get the 1 - 38000 swap.

    Fortunately for the traveller, most of the essentials are cheap or at least relatively cheap, here are a few examples in Rials & ( dollars )
    Petrol, 1 litre - 10000 Rials ( $0:26 )
    Coffee - 40000 - 100000 Rials ( $1 - $2:50 ) actually coffee here is relatively expensive
    Water, 1 litre - 10000 Rials ( $0:26 ) mysteriously the same as a litre of petrol.
    Icypole - 5000 Rials ( $0:13 )
    Burger - 100000 Rials ( $2:50 )
    Pepsi 500ml - 40000 Rials ( $1:10 )
    Beer - Ah only joking it's Iran remember, buuuuuut we have been told it's available. I can wait another week or so though.

    So your've ordered your 2 burgers and 2 soft drinks and you know its something like 300000 ( three hundred thousand ) Rials and the shop assistant asks for 30000 ( thirty thousand ). Eh? You reach for thirty thousand in your wallet and the shop assistant wags his finger "no no, thirty thousand". Confused? Yep we were too. Allow me to explain. All prices are listed in Rials, so it's easy to see how you can quickly ratchet up above 1,000,000 Rials ( $38 ) with a reasonable purchase. But the shop assistant then knocks a zero off and asks you to pay in "Tomans". ( but never mentions the word Toman ) So 300000 Rials then becomes 30000 Tomans, see simple eh. :scratch

    Enough maths for now. After leaving Persepolis we were northward bound to Isfahan, but were never going to make it that day, only to Yasuj. We pretty much never book accomodation, just ask the locals or use the app MapsMe. I don't know about other parts of the world, but throughout Asia this is a ripper. It's been invaluable to us. In Yasuf MapsMe indicated a guest house so we made our way there. To be honest the place was modest to put it mildly, but Katrina ventured forth and enquired within. We were assured that we could stay there for the night and were also assured that no money would change hands. No amount of insisting would see our hosts accept any payment. Not for a late lunch, not for dinner, not for a bed and certainly not for breakfast. We are still not sure if we knocked on a private residence or if in fact the place was a guest house. The youngest daughter could speak just a little english, especially with the assistance of google translate on her tablet. Another amazing offer of Iranian hospitality.

    Our incredibly generous Iranian hosts.
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    During the evening many cousins and friends dropped by to see the two crazy Australians riding the HUGE motorbike. ( it's illegal to have a m/bike over 250cc in Iran). This is a small sample, there were many more, all girls interestingly. Amongst this lot you have 1 with a Masters degree in political science and 2 that are 3 months away from becoming fully fledge dentists. The younger Iranian population is highly educated, but many struggle to secure a decent job or career.

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  7. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Isfahan is another Iranian city famous for it's history, mosques, architecture and gardens. So it seems a good spot to just chill for a few days. One thing is for sure though, you couldn't say it is renowned for it's restaurants. In fact Iran generally from what we have seen is a restaurant depleted zone. It's actually quite difficult to find something other than fast food, ice cream and felafel anywhere. Eating out here is just not a big deal, clearly most eat at home.

    Tomorrow we make our way to the north, not real sure where, lets see what happens.

    Do you think if I give it a good rub Barbara Eden may emerge? One can only hope. I could be showing my age here.
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    Katrina having a go at geriatric gymnastics. All jokes aside, the gardens and public facilities here in Isfahan are extensive.
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    Siyo-se-pilo, one of the two famous bridges here in Isfahan, across the Zeyendeh river. Currently obsolete because the river is dry
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    Siyo-se-pol bridge.
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    After the sun goes down.
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    Thirty layers of spice. I stupidly asked how it tastes, the response was, "amazing".
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    Naghsh-e Jahan square, Isfahan, Iran.
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    Pol-e-khaju bridge, yep it's a little dry. Even when flowing the river can't be more than 2 to 3 feet deep.
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    Trying not to be too disrespectful, I reckon the most valuable items here would be the lock and chain.
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    Hasht Behesht gardens
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    I reckon I just hit the mother lode, rainbows and gourds! Scent bottles I do believe.
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  8. DunkingBird

    DunkingBird Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the gourd-update :lol2

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  9. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    The sum of the parts that make up a country are many and varied. But as we all know the people are a huge component of that equation. The Iranian hospitality has been some the best on our entire journey. That puts Iran at or near the top of our favourite country list. The country has a huge amount to offer, one day the world will wake up to this little gem.
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  10. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Toady as we approached the NW corner of Iran, in preparation for our crossing over to Armenia tomorrow, I was both shocked and amazed to look up and see a road sign above us saying, Europe 1800 klms. I just wasn't prepared for it. We have been in Asia for so long now that the thought of Europe being so close is a long way from our minds. But a quick consultation with the map does certainly confirm our proximity to Europe. Of course we being more familiar with the less direct route, will not take 1800 klms to get there. No, I'm thinking something like triple that or more.

    Internet is slooooooow, so no photo's. They will come later. But, how has Iran been?

    Amazingly hospitable people.
    Hopeless drivers.
    repetitive food ( burgers & kebabs ).
    Amazingly hospitable people.
    Millions of speed humps. I mean numbers beyond imagination.
    No hassles from the traffic police, I mean none, just a wave and a smile.
    Amazingly hospitable people.
    Possibly the highest percentage of dented and damaged cars anywhere in the world. ( hopeless drivers )
    Hot, damn hot. I mean today was a 4 icypole day, yep that hot. No substitute for a good beer of course. Hello Armenia. :beer
    Amazingly hospitable people.
    History, lots of history.
    Atrocious smog, around the larger city's, cough, cough!
    Amazingly hospitable people.

    We've been offered and received free accomodation, food, coffee, the list just goes on and on. I can't over emphasise the incredible welcome that we have received here in Iran. My take is that it is simply the cultural thing to do, to offer kindness to strangers and tourists. Neither Katrina nor I will forget Iran any time soon.
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  11. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Time to wrap up our stay in Iran. It all seemed far too quick, Iran is a country that we could have spent a lot more time in. Our visa allowed another two weeks, but our weather window is starting to close and we want a little time up our sleeve in both Bulgaria and Greece especially, so decided to keep moving along.

    So here is a final look at our fleeting glimpse of Iran.

    Mr White on the right was the aggressor, but Mr Black was the deep thinker and ultimate winner.
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    We stopped at a random coffee shop at a non-descript town in western Iran. The guy to my left refused payment for the coffee's, another typical example of Iranian hospitality.
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    Baking bread over hot pebbles. You guessed it, we were given a loaf for free. The generosity never ceases.
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    Looking over the city of Khorramabad, note the old fort far left. This place was a good example of the price discrepancy we have to pay, not only here but all across Asia. Locals less than $1 US, foreigner $13. We really struggle with that, but hey that could be just us. :dunno

    You can't really appreciate it in this shot, but there is an ever pervasive smog haze that you are swimming in. It really is bad.
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    I had a pinched flat on the front tyre and this guy would take no payment whats so ever for doing most of the work. I had to go see him because our little 12v compressor is now kaput. We need a new one. Another perfect example of Iranian hospitality.
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    The old town of Palangan, west Iran. Not so far from the Iraqi border in fact.
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    The Aras river separating Azerbaijan from Iran. Iran to the left. You can once again pick up on the smog haze.
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    Watch towers on both sides are quite a common site. Taking this shot was probably illegal, hell I don't know.
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    A final look at Iran to the right, before crossing to Armenia to the left.
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  12. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    Great summary. I really look forward to your updates, it's an amazing trip you are on
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  13. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Thanks Mr Kiwi, it sure is an amazing trip. I'm glad you are enjoying following along. if I weren't blogging, I'd be writing a diary as per our previous trips. Although the blog can be at times a little frustrating and tedious. I can assure you the diary is even more so. To sit down a write each day is a pain in the backside. The addition of attaching photos and having interested parties follow along makes the blog a far better option in my opinion.

    Now for a walk and look see around Yerevan, apparently one of the oldest and longest inhabited cities in the world. From what we've seen so far though, it mostly looks brand spankers, in an ex Soviet kind of way. Actually it appears quite interesting.
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  14. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Wandering the streets of Yerevan is quite an enjoyable experience. Little cafe's, street art, people watching, trying to figure out how it is that so many expensive cars end up in what is clearly a deprived economy. How's an Bentley SUV grab you? Got my attention thats for sure. :brow

    Anyway, heres some open air art in and around the Cascade complex, Yerevan, Armenia.

    Just about everyone has seen the smoking woman, but they seem to neglect the rest of the exhibits.
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    I reckon the artist had a sense of humour.
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    We all know to whom this one is for, hello MrKiwi. :wave
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  15. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    A blue kiwi, how odd :lol3
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  16. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    I'm thinking your a little blue right now down there on the South Isl. It is the South Isl isn't it?
  17. MrKiwi

    MrKiwi 42

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    No, bottom of North Island. Blue yes, only 9 degrees out in the Wairarapa for a day's ride in the cold and wet
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  18. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    The rest of our time in Yerevan was spent just relaxing, walking the streets, partaking in the local Armenian coffee and beer. Oh and visiting the Armenian genocide museum. From the late 19th century through until to the end of the first world war the Armenian minority of Turkey were persecuted, evicted, deported and murdered in huge numbers. It's generally accepted that 1.5 million died during these purges. High on the hill of Yerevan is the very sombre genocide museum. Very sad, moving and must see if you ever visit Armenia. To my knowledge the Turkish authorities have never acknowledged the systemic persecution of the Armenians.

    I wonder what happened here, someone is not happy. Actually it could have been me, the traffic police through central Asia are friggin corrupt, with a capitol F!
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    Lots of these in Armenia.
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    The Armenian genocide museum a very sombre memorial.
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  19. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Make no mistake about it, Armenia is a country still trying to get on it's feet economically after the break up of the former USSR. The evidence of poverty and people struggling to make a living are everywhere, especially in the countryside. Here are only a few shots of the Armenian countryside.

    Oh, before I forget. Yesterday as we were heading into northern Armenia we spotted a first generation Africa Twin parked on the other side of the divided highway and at first glance it seemed damaged. I pulled up to investigate and soon discovered that it had just been in an accident. Siegfried and his girlfriend, both from Italy had been cleaned up by an Armenian driver doing a U-turn right in front of them. We never got to meet his girlfriend for she had already been taken to the hospital. We really hope that she was OK. Siegfried assured us that everything was now taken care of and there was nothing we could do to help. So we let it go at that and moved on. He was being ferried to hospital and some other Italians were picking up their damaged AT. It just goes to show how it can all go to shit in a heart beat.

    In fact since starting out on this journey, including our own little mishap within the first week, we have heard of many many accidents of fellow travellers. Fortunately none requiring anything more than a hospital stay. Life is certainly an adventure.

    Noravank monastery, Armenia.
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    Loading hay Armenian style. I reckon once the driver gets into the cab, he doesn't get out until the hay is off loaded.
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    I'd like to point out that in the making of this photo neither the geese nor more importantly Miss Hatty, were injured in any way. Even the Spruce Goose did better than these fatso's, who couldn't get more than 3 inches off the runway.
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    Not at all sure what is going on with this one, the meanings could be many.
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    All over the former Soviet republics one can find a huge plethora of statues and monuments. They typically range from the grotesque to the ridiculous. This one in Ljevan was actually quiet tasteful and appealing.
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  20. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I understand that you might be in a bit of a rush to get to your R&R in Greece/Bulgaria, but I recommend taking a bit of time in Turkey (my favourite riding country at the moment) if you're going there. I'm getting bored of RRs where people just hammer along the Black Sea coast.
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