Masouleh (blog)

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Nov 18, 2007

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Flag of Iran  ,
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just as I finished the last blog (Dogubayazit) it absolutely chucked it down so we got a taxi back to camp. As we tended to do in Turkey 6 of us (Will, Lorna, Av, Rachel, Dez and I) piled into the available 4 seats. Ignoring the huge crack on the windscreen and very low suspension, we showed him the camp site card and headed up the hill. The river had burst its banks onto the road but the taxi driver continued on. The river had destroyed quite a lot of the road, throwing the cobbles onto the other side. The water must have been 12 inches deep and hitting part of the destroyed road the taxi jerked to a stop and the engine flooded. The taxi driver repeated 'Problem, problem!' and was even shaking. Anxiously we got out and pushed. Was quite fun in the muddy water and further up we helped clear the road of road that the water had displaced with many thanks from the locals.

Passing into Iran was seemless - all the girls had the correct clothing (headscarfs, long sleeves and trousers/full length skirts) and all the paper work went without a hitch - shame the first bushcamp wasn't seemless. We camped 30km from Tabriz (which is only 200km or so from Baghdad) in a orchard. A few cars on the small track to take a look at the truck but nothing to worry about, just curiosity. Police had arrived just before I went to sleep but they were just asking basic questions and asking to see Steve's (the driver's) passport. I went to sleep only to be woken by an AK47 tapping on my tent - we were being moved on. It was not due to anything other than we were on a farmers land. It was quite funny though because before we were escorted to 'another camping spot' one of the police was asking where we were from. A few people said England and when I said Scotland I received a welcoming handshake whereas Dave and Nick didn't. After the police left us and a few hours spent getting lost on unfinished roads in Tabriz we found a dingy petrol station to camp beside. It was grim and the 2nd worst bush camp to date (worst was at the Iranian/Pakistani border).

On our way to Masouleh we spent a night beneath Babak Castle and a night on the Caspian coast a few miles from Azerbaijan. Babak Castle was a ruined castle at the top of a steep mountain - good to get some exercise for once. Near Babak we got our first shock of Iranian prices: 5 kebabs, 6 drinks and 7 munchies came to just two pounds fifty!! More amazingly diesel is 1 percent of the price it is in Britain!

Driving through Northern Iran showed us how lush it was and the amount of rice padis it has, surprising because all I thought before coming was deserts and mountains. Masouleh was a small touristy (as tourism goes in Iran) town with a small bazaar and mud brick buildings that stepped up the hillside. The entrance to one building was the roof of another. We spent two nights here smoking hookah pipes in cafes and chatting to locals and tourists from Tehran. A young woman (22) from Tehran asked me why I would come to Iran and whether I was scared of its people or not. I just told her that we just have to look beyond the news to see what Iran is really like. The girl wore her headscarf as far back as it would go, lots of makeup and appeared to have a nose job - according to the guide book these were token attributes of young women wanting to show as much liberalism in a country where various religios based etiquettes are forced through law. At one point she even took her headscarf off to show her displeasure at having to wear it, though her husband didn't appear too happy about that. I was to experience much more of the Iranian friendliness and how politically minded they all are in Esfehan...
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