Update 13 - Hello Meeeester part
2 - Esfahan to Shiraz, Iran.
11th January 2002.
took all morning of the 30th Nov. to get ready and say
goodbye to everyone in Esfahan, mostly the group of
us who spent every night for several hours in the great
local teahouse we kept going back to. They were: the
fourth and honorary charityride member Kat; Esfahani's
Sam and Mazdak, who were very helpful and great friends
to us, thank you; the Belgian solo cyclist David who
we also met briefly in Cappadocia in Turkey, and later
in Bam; the Swiss-German traveller Roger; and the friendly
Aussies touring the Middle East Michelle and Claire,
who let us listen to there walkman - western music at
the next 5 days we followed the main road to Shiraz.
It rained almost everyday - the first real rain the
region has had for 5 years, which wasn't nice for us!
Very strong head winds going uphill were a bane too.
It was great however to have Spaniard Juan Garcia Azorin
cycling with us. The cold and wet were not felt so much
cycling with him. I don't think we have laughed so much
in ages as he is learning English, and we have taught
him some useful phrases like 'biggidy biggidy bong',
'fancy a brew?', 'he is concerned about the drainage
in the lower field', 'ef ef ef, peth eth eth, Chris
Waddle', 'Malaga..... Scorchio! Madrid...... Cumulus
Nimbus!', 'fancy a date? (the fruit, they're yummy here
in Iran) Not tonight Darlin' I'm washing my hair', 'I
can't be arsed' and my favourite 'talk to the hand because
the face ain't hearing it'. Try to imagine Juan saying
these in a strong Spanish accent and you'll understand
why we have been constantly in hysterics for ages. Sorry,
but thanks, Juan. Watch Juan trying his best at Persepolis
- click on juan.asf.
the second day to Shiraz when it was getting to that
time of day where we need to start looking for a place
to camp, we discovered an abandoned timeworn high walled
citadel made from mud and straw just off the road. No
one was around so we camped inside one of the rooms
still standing. It felt like it was a historical place
that we should have paid a hefty entrance fee to see
- but we had it all to ourselves. Just great!
we left our own citadel for another day at the office
it decided to rain heavily with a miserable head wind.
This lasted all day. We finally arrived into the small
town of Debidt as it was getting dark, just after crossing
a steep pass of 2450m which was cold and wet! We met
a nice local Abdul who offered to put us up for the
night. This offer was so well received by us because
we could not bare a camp in the cold and wet. We followed
his car into the dirt track streets of town to his humble
home poorly made of bricks. It was a typical house of
the area - poorly constructed with what materials are
affordable and available. Inside the walls are bald
and not plastered, the floors were cold and there is
no real furniture in the house - the family eat, sleep
and pass the day sitting on the floor. Despite their
apparent hardship they were so hospitable to us, offering
food and anything they could. We spent a pleasant night
talking and playing with Abdul's son and two small daughters.
The Liverpool FC key-ring and a map of the world we
offered were greatly received. Thank you so much for
an unforgettable night.
final camp before Shiraz was right under the huge Achaemenid
rock tombs hewn out of a high cliff known as Naqsh-e
Rostam. They are just across the valley from Persepolis.
The plan was to see this and Persepolis in the morning,
then cycle the remainder to Shiraz in the afternoon.
However, as we woke up it started to rain again, so
we had breakfast in a cave half way up the cliff and
waited until it stopped. A few hours later it was still
raining! When we finally managed to come back down and
inspect our tents - they were floating in a big pool
of water! Thank god we've got waterproof panniers! Wet
and disillusioned we packed up camp and made it to Shiraz,
a pleasant enough place (but their milkshakes are not
as nice as Esfahans), deciding to leave Persepolis for
There are a large number of Afghan refugees in Iran.
We met several in Shiraz and Esfahan, and there are
many more in Bam and Zahedan too. Andy and Juan were
even playing football with some Afghan kids, but I think
they were too good and easily beat the cyclists! I (Adrian)
met a friendly Afghan while waiting for, you've guest
it, a freshly blended banana milkshake (just the best
drink), and although I can't speak any Farsi or Pashtun,
and he didn't speak any English, we chatted in international
sign language and were getting on quite well. It is
such a shame so many have been displaced by mismanagement
and military action.
stunning ruins of Persepolis 60km north of Shiraz were
undoubtedly one of the main highlights of the trip so
far. We hitched back there a few days later from the
city when the rains had abated. Persepolis is believed
to have been the summer capital of the first great Persian
empire - the Achaemenid Empire. Construction of the
magnificent palace complex started in 512 BC and it
was finally completed 150 years later by a host of subsequent
kings. Its grandeur was short lived however as it was
burnt to the ground by the invading Macedonian Alexander
the Great in 330 BC. The impressive ruins are very well
preserved because they were only discovered in the 1930s
from centuries of cover buried in the dust and sand.
Its many detailed bas-reliefs and fine statues not only
give an insight into their way of life, but are also
astonishing works of art. Another attraction of the
area is the wonderful volcanically formed hills surrounding
the ruins. Suddenly a line of rock, layer upon layer,
appears out of the ground at about 45 degrees, rising
ever higher to form a mountain. The layers are so uniform
that it is as if you could drive a car or mountain bike
right up to the top. It was an extraordinary sight.
As the day was drawing to a close we cycled and hitched
back to Shiraz to prepare to leave for the next morning
- destination Bam....