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    18.000km on the road

    Monday, December 3rd, 2007

    Our motorcycle journey is over, so it might be the time to have some conclusions.

    First why don’t we take the bike in south-east asia. The reasons are two-fold. The first one is the cost of transport, we would have to fly the bike from Kathmandu to Bangkok and then again from Bangkok to Bucharest which would be quite expensive. The sea-shipping from Kathmandu is much cheaper.
    The second reason is that Vietnam doesn’t allow big motorcycles (more then 200cubic cm) on its territory. As we want to make a tour (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos-Thailand) we can’t really leave the bike anywhere and come back to pick it up.

    The bike performed admirably throughout the 17.800 km of the trip. The damage to the bike is pretty minimal: the left rear view mirror was broken in an encounter with a van in Iran but I managed to buy a (second-hand!) iranian honda mirror that fits, the lid of the right-hand pannier had a dent from a truck on the Manali-Leh road, and the bottom of the same pannier is dented from a fall in Rajastan. All this incidents took place at very slow speed or even standing still ūüôā

    Apart from the fuel pump which left us stranded on the side of the road twice, we had effectively 0 problems with the bike. This was probably due to a bad case of beginner’s luck as we didn’t even had a flat tyre the whole way…

    If you think of doing the same trip with same enormous amount of luggage (and two-up) it would be a good idea to change the rear spring to a stiffer one. The stock spring is much too soft for such a load and you lose a lot of suspension travel due to sagging. A high performance shock is not strictly necessary (although is certainly nice if you can afford it). If you decide to keep the stock spring try to distribute some of the load to the front of the bike. We had all the weight on the rear and the front was very light and prone to wobbling.

    A long-range fuel tank is both very expensive and un-needed. We had a 6 litre jerry-can (less then 10Euro), and we only used in Baluchistan and in the Himalayas. Even there we could have managed without it, as there were people selling fuel from jerry-cans on the side of the road.

    The Metzeler Tourances performed admirably, the back tyre is squared after the trip due to the load, but the front is still in very good shape. They are not off-road tires by any means so on the sandy and muddy parts you have to be careful but they have decent grip in the wet and are very hard to wear down. A good choice if you decide not to carry spare tyres.
    The panniers performed reasonably well (although I still thing they are a bit flimsy). They are rated for 10kg each and we carried almost double…

    One of the things that you might want to consider is an alarm. I’ve installed a cheap car alarm with a pager. It has a shock sensor, a leaning sensor (set to engage when the bike is taken off the side-stand) and a trunk-opening sensor wired to the seat. The alarm is installed in the toolbox under the seat. Also a bike cover is a must have especially in India.

    we kept records about our spending, this will be detailed in another post.

    One question that is likely to be in you mind if you read this contemplating a similar trip is “How difficult is it ?” . While difficulty is a relative thing so my assessment doesn’t really help, it is almost certainly that you will find the trip easier that you think. Once you are on the road you solve the problems as they arise and you don’t have much time to worry about it. There were some tricky parts (baluchistan etc) but they aren’t as daunting as they look from back home.

    This being said, expect some very long days when things don’t go as planned and you are quite stressed (our worst day was between Sukkur and Multan), but after you get through them they don’t affect your trip too much. There is so much beauty and excitement along the way that the difficulties that you encounter are comparatively too small to matter.

    Before we left there was much discussion among our friends if it’s wise to leave with a single bike. It’s quite clear that with a larger party some of the problems are easier to be dealt with, but it also causes additional ones. If you decide to go in a larger group be sure that you really know (and really like) your travel companions. We were lucky to met very nice people on our way and we went together for a while, but it’s a big difference between riding together for few days and riding together for 6 months, if you choose your companions poorly you will compromise your whole trip.

    We are quite happy with going alone, we managed to get over the hard parts by ourselves and I think it added to the feeling of freedom and unburden inherent in this trip.

    After almost 4 months and 18.000km we are convinced that riding is the best way to travel and hope we will be able to repeat this trip.

    Without any real connection ūüôā , I add some pictures from our second forced stop. Repairing the fuel pump in Madhya Pradesh with some 20-30 spectators.

    gorakhpur01.jpg gorakhpur02.jpg

    gorakhpur03.jpg gorakhpur04.jpg


    Saturday, September 8th, 2007

    We are leaving Kerman at 7 o’clock, preparing ourselves for the first real desert crossing.
    After 2 hours we stop briefly in Bam. The city is still badly damaged by the earthquake and the traffic is completely chaotic.

    As we exit the city we enter Kavir-e-Lut one of the two main deserts of Iran.
    We are welcomed by a fine sand-storm with the wind¬† blowing almost perpendicular to our direction of travel from the left so I have to lean the bike at least 15 to 20 degrees to go straight ahead. I can hear the sand hitting my helmet,it’s like siting in a sandblasting machine.

    After an hour I’m beginning to worry about the storm which seems to get stronger, I see some army barracks and stop for a short break (this part of Iran doesn’t have a very good reputation).
    As we drink a bit of water an army jeep comes alongside, asks for our passports, checks them, and goes back to the barracks. Just as we are ready to leave, a soldier comes and tells us to wait, we will be getting a military escort.

    The escort consists of on old Paykan with 4 soldiers armed with AK47s and a machine gun. They ask us not to exceed 80km/h, and we leave. I slowly accelerate to 100 and we continue for 40km.

    We stop in a parking to change escorts with the new one being also a Paykan even more beaten then the previous one. After 80km we get a new Toyota jeep that can easily do 120km/h.

    The last escort is also a Toyota so everything seems to be ok, until 25km before Zahedan. The soldiers signal us to stop in a parking, and they tell that they don’t have anymore petrol.
    We must wait for a another car that will arrive in 5 minutes.

    In the meantime they are stopping passing cars and ask for gasoline ūüôā

    25 minutes have passed, I ask what is happening: 5 more minutes they say (they don’t speak any english, we are communicating in sign language).

    They stop another car to ask for gas, the driver gives them a couple of liters and stops to watch us. He talks to the soldiers gives them some fizzy drinks, and gives some hashish to the officer. He also rolls a joint for himself.

    45 minutes have passed, all the soldiers are quite relaxed by now and the friendly drug dealer is still here. I’m beginning to have a strange feeling.

    I decide to make a little test, I tell Ioana to get on the bike and I go to the officer and start to yell (in romanian) that we cannot wait anymore and we have to leave.

    In the meantime I get my helmet and mount the bike. One of the soldiers gets in front of the bike and signals me to stop. I look at the officer, he seems totally relaxed.
    ¬†I start the engine and accelerate hard. The soldier gets out of my way as we exit the parking. That’s the last that we saw of our escorts ūüôā

    After a bad hotel in Zahedan, two hours at the border, we are in Taftan (humorously described as “hell on earth” by Lonely Planet), and ready to leave for Danblandin, some 300km into the desert.
    The road is good (apart for some sand blown over the road), traffic is almost non-existent but the heat is on.
    4 hours and 6 liters of water later we are in Danblandin in a shitty hotel with no water and no electricity. It doesn’t matter, we only want to sleep.
    The night passes quickly, and we are up for the last leg: Danblandin- Quetta 350km.
    This time the road is bad, a narrow lane of pothole filled tarmac that can only accommodate one truck. When you meet a lorry coming from the opposite direction you have to stop and let it pass. When you want to overtake a bus or truck, you have to get off the asphalt and on the gravel shoulder and pass.
    It takes us 5 hours to reach Quetta. We celebrate the crossing of Baluchistan with an illegal pakistani beer (the first one since Urfa in Turkey)

    baluchi children  road from taftan to danbladin   taftan2.jpg

    taftan3.jpg   taftan4.jpg   taftan5.jpg

    danbaldin11.jpg   quetta1.jpg


    Friday, September 7th, 2007

    Daca de esfahan ma plingeam ca nu are destula atmosfera, yazd compenseaza. Un oras pe marginea desertului, cu case de culoarea mierii cu oameni misteriosi si cu nopti incredibil de linistite.

    Nimerim la un hotel rupt dintr-un film, primim cu o camera cu badgir. Hotelul are o curte interioara unde poti sa stai ore intregi intins pe perne sa savurezi un ceai.

    Atmosfera din hotel e parca rupta din filmul Casablanca, sunt multi straini aici,  pentru unii este capatul calatoriei in Iran si fac planuri de intoarcere, ceilalti continua catre pakistan. 

    E plin de personaje ciudate, un profesor francez care merge in Afganistan (care are o privire de maniac), un englez care locuieste in antigua si face yahturi, doi nemti care merg si ei catre pakistan etc etc.

    Stam de birfe ore intregi cu englezul si cei 2 nemti. Aici timpul nu are nici o semnificatie. Ne reumplem bateriile pentru drumul prin Baluchistan.

    Mergem in desert sa vedem orase uitate si un templu zoroastrist.

    Una peste alta, 2 zile perfecte.

     yazd1.jpg   yazd21.jpg   yazd3.jpg

    yazd4.jpg   yazd5.jpg   yazd6.jpg

    yazd7.jpg   yazd8.jpg   yazd9.jpg

    yazd10.jpg   yazd11.jpg   yazd12.jpg

    yazd13.jpg   yazd14.jpg

    iran- ultima parte

    Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

    niatza tuturor,

    n-am pus poze acum pentru ca ne-a fost lene ūüôā¬† intram in balucistan si trecem in pakistan asa ca s-ar putea sa trebuiasca sa aveti putintica rabdare cu poze noi. O sa ajungem in Quetta cam intr-o saptamina, pina atunci nu stiu daca vom avea net sau roaming. Nu ne dati disparuti ūüôā

    pa, mergem sa testam o tocanitza de camila ūüôā

    persepolis si naqsh-e rostam

    Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

    niatza, niatza

    persepolis, o terasa sapata in munte, inceputa undeva pe vremea lui Darius I vreo 500 de ani I.C. , ruinele unei civilizatii fantastice.  As fi dat un pic (mai mult ) timpul inapoi sa-i vad pe persani urcind treptele multe si subtirele in rochitele lor cele lungi.

    persepolis01.jpg   persepolis02.jpg   persepolis03.jpg

    sa vad si sirurile de reprezentanti ai variilor natii prezentind darurile aduse pentru sarbatoarea anului nou. ce-i drept pe ei i-am vazut imortalizati pe pietrele ramase.

    persepolis04.jpg   persepolis05.jpg   persepolis06.jpg

    persepolis07.jpg   persepolis08.jpg  persepolis09.jpg

    si¬†¬†coloanele¬†din palatul celor 100 de coloane…acum nu prea¬†mai¬†ies la numaratoare, si palatul apadana.

    E foarte dragut ca se  simte si acum ca era foarte foarte frumos, ca erau foarte bogati, ca toate acele locuri erau pline cu minuni. Aparent i-au trebuit lui Alexandru cel Mare vreo 3000 de camile sa goleasca tezaurul pastrat acolo.

    deasupra terasei, mai sus in munte sint mormintele lui artaxerxes II si III, unde zoroastristi¬†fiind i-au lasat¬†sa-i pape vulturii ūüôā¬† se vede foarte frumos tot complexul de sus de la mormint.

    foarte foarte frumos, ne-a placut tare si am vazut ca si localnicilor le place,  misunau destul de multi pe-acolo.

    persepolis10.jpg   persepolis11.jpg  persepolis12.jpg

    persepolis13.jpg   persepolis14.jpg

    am fugit de la persepolis, am¬†dat¬†gata un kebap si o tocanita de vinete si niste inghetata si¬†ne-am mai oprit un pic la naqsh-e rostam unde mai sint niste morminte sapate in munte locuite la ora asta sper doar de niste sopirle simpatice si foarte curioase¬† – l-a intrebat¬†din ochi pe cip : “sir,¬†where are you from? ”¬†ūüôā

    nrostam1.jpg   nrostam2.jpg  nrostam3.jpg