In the morning I have a very sparse breakfast and walk around town for a while. I find a very kitschy fountain
and it seems the town is gearing up for what I believe to be Khameneiís birthday.
Another one of the ubiquitous roundabout statues catches my eye
and some propaganda posters are hard to overlook.
As promised I call Mohsen on my cell and he shows up ten minutes later to guide me out of town. I actually want to go the Katal Khor cave be he insists it is rubbish and I should go to the Ali-Sadr caves instead, which I already know are the worst Iranian tourist trap. I say no to that one and he insists on sending me off to Hamadan. I donít want to hurt his feelings and follow him, figuring I can always turn and go to Katal Khor. As we say goodbye at the side of the road a guy comes up to me and wants to see me passport. OK, I hand him my passport and he walks away. I ride the bike to the roadblock ahead and him and another plainclothes guy thumb through my passport, clearly having no idea what they are looking at. He stares at my expired Iranian visa from a previous visit but never looks at the current one. Then he develops an unhealthy interest in my American visas. He finally asks which country I am from. I guess itís not that easy to find out from the passport. So he radios back and forth with somebody else and finally declares I can go but I am not allowed to stop anywhere or take pictures. Weíll see about that. The way these two characters behaved, the way they dressed and talked very much reminded me of the East German Stasi. I guess small time secret service man on a power trip are the same the world over. Unfortunately, now I have to take the road to Hamadan and canít turn back to take the road to the cave. I stop as soon as Iím out of sight and study my map and the Zumo map. Looks like I can make my way to the cave anyway. I see some civilian trucks with some military cargo under camouflage nets driving in the other direction. OK, thatís what this was all about. After a few kilometers I turn left on a dirt road taking me past poppies
and timeless mud brick villages
in gentle hills
until Zumo indicates I should take another left and sure enough there is a dirt road which I follow for a few kilometers. After crossing a sealed road I try to pick up the same dirt road behind a little village. I try a few roads but always end up in a river bed. I finally find a road and after a few kilometers two guys on a tractor just stare at me like Iím from outer space. A short time later I run into two teenagers and they tell me that this isnít the road and I should turn back. I do and follow the sealed road a bit before making another left on a well maintained dirt road. This must be the one! I fly along for some time past some shepherds whoís dogs are chasing me. After another village my beautiful dirt road suddenly deteriorates badly and on top of that it starts to rain. I continue a while longer hoping the rain will stop. Well, it didnít and the road turns into sticky mud which my tires and I donít handle too well. So I decide to put my rain gear on and turn back. The cave gets flooded in rain anyway. Once Iím back on the sealed road I follow it in the opposite direction, which I figure will take me back to Bijar. Shortly before Bijar I run into a bunch of military guys at the side of the road. I decide to pack my Zumo away in case the road block guys are still there. Iím lucky and they are gone and I ride toward Hamadan in the rain. In Qorveh a guy almost runs me off the road just because he wants to invite me to his house. No mate, just want to keep going. The traffic from Qorveh to Hamadan is horrendous and at some point I have to take a five minute break to calm down. Luckily the city has an easy layout and is well signposted in English. I find me hotel easily and after negotiating the price down I park my bike in the looked Hotel compound and settle into my room. I have to dry all the stuff from my right pannier, which is not waterproof anymore after the fall at the Karaftu caves. And I thought it wouldnít rain in Iran!