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Old 05-12-2009, 10:29 PM   #61
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Great Thread...Thanks

Really appreciate the great write-up and photos. Someday.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:53 PM   #62
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Van

I arrived in Van during the Sunday evening rush hour as everyone returned from their picnic at the lake. A football game had just ended and cars sped down the streets honking and waving the flag of the winning team. The sun was shining directly down main street making it impossible to see. So I just parked the bike and had an ice cream. This was some seriously good tasting ice cream! Not sure how they make it but it is somewhere between chewing gum and normal ice cream with a very intense flavor. I went back for more. They guys also make a big show of filling your cone.
I then walked around to find myself a room and with that squared away and the bike safely parked I explored the city.

I ended up spending a few days in Van, taking it easy and exploring the surrounding area. Right at the edge of town is Van castle

I met an older Kurdish gentlemen and his sun at the castle. He had tossed one of his tooth into one of the collapsed buildings and kept showing me the gap in his mouth. Not sure what that was all about but the chap seemed nice enough.
10 km out of town is Yedi Kilise, yet another Armenian church. When I got to the village and stopped to look around this little fella

came up and jumped on the bak of my bike faster than I could say no. He lead me to a hill 2km down a dirt road. Hm, some old ruins for sure but not a church as far as I can tell but he kept saying that this is it. I looked around for a while

and then returned to the village and then I saw the church. Little Yesun led me on top of it where I could look inside through the collapse roof. When I wanted to go around to go inside he kept saying no and shaking his head. Well, I went around anyway but he stayed behind. He clearly wasnít going to set foot into a Christian church. The door to the church was covered with a wooden fence, almost like they were trying to hide it. Some guys came up and I asked if I could have a look inside but they told me the key is in Van. I stuck around anyway and the key eventually appeared and an older gentlemen showed me around. After taking some pictures I made a donation in the provided box.




The whole experience felt a little odd, almost like they donít want people to see the church. When I left the village Yesun stood at the side of the road and wanted a ride to Van. I took him for about a kilometer but didnít want to leave him stranded in Van.
Dinner was the standard Tavuk Doner. The guys told me that everything in their shop was Kurdish. Kurdish doner, Kurdish tea, and Kurdish hot peppers, which I had to try.

Doners to go come with a little zip lock bag of hot peppers.

The men play games and have tea.

They are selling this stuff everywhere right now.

After I took this picture the guy gave me a sample and showed me how to eat it. Very tasty and refreshing but I still donít know what it is.
With the help of some locals and Murat in Ankara I also lined up the 10,000km warranty service for when I return from Iran. Turns out the mechanic of the official Yamaha shop in town is a XT660 rider himself. They also had a GS in the shop
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Old 05-15-2009, 09:33 AM   #63
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Van to Orumiyeh


I decided to attempt to cross into Iran at the less frequented Esendere-Serou crossing. I couldnít find out whether it was open for individual travelers with private vehicles but figured I should try. Good thing I did because this turned out to be very scenic drive through Kurdistan.
My I first stop was at Hosap castle

Mountains and more mountains all around with some bizarre landscapes thrown in.




There were some dodgy looking characters around smuggling fuel. Who can blame them with the price differential between the cheapest fuel in the world and the probably most expensive? The only serious military checkpoint was at the Yuksekova turn off. I was invited into the hut and one of the soldiers spoke English pretty well. I filled out a form and got the chair in front of the riffle rack. So I donít think they felt threatened by me :-). I was stopped at another checkpoint but the guys just wanted to check out the bike. I declined an invitation for lunch.
At the border I drove past the waiting trucks and buses straight to the front. They only let a certain number of vehicles into the holding pen to processes them. It was a bit disorganized but my new found trucker friends gave me food, tea, and moved me along the various desks. After finishing the Turkish side I had to wait again in front of the Iranian gate. I killed the time sitting in the empty bus behind me. I studied the Iran map with the drivers over cold soft drinks. Once on the Iranian side the process was straight forward and the whole crossing only took 1.5 hours.

The Iranian side seemed markedly drier than Turkey.

I moved on to Orumiyeh, where I promptly got lost. A local rider guided me to my hotel which had elevator music and an English speaking manager, who was a goldmine of information. The room came with a free camel pack, forgotten by some biker more than a year ago.

After a shower I walked around for a while and had the Iranian version of pizza for dinner. If you think you canít talk on a phone, hold a baby, eat, drive a taxi and shout for customers at the same time you havenít been to Iran. I was very impressed by this guy.
I came about this roundabout statute of the Golden Boys
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:13 AM   #64
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Quote:
drive through Kurdistan
there is no such country. it's a shame that you dont use the proper name of the area; south-eastern Anotolia (guney dogu Anadolu)!!
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:57 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byker_tr
there is no such country.
Don't tell a Kurd that!!!
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:58 AM   #66
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Incredible photographs Boarder, it seems you hit so many historic and scenic structures...planned? Maybe??
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:03 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by danno626
Incredible photographs Boarder, it seems you hit so many historic and scenic structures...planned? Maybe??
Not planned really. I just take it one day at a time. It's just something I'm interested in.

Also, to the last couple of commenters: let's keep politics out of this. It's a ride report and nothing more. Don't read anything into it that isn't there.
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Old 05-17-2009, 10:04 AM   #68
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I'm on board. Cannot wait till you get to Iran. This is my favorite country so far. I wonder if it's gonna impress you the same way it did impress me. Keep riding and posting!
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:16 AM   #69
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Nice Ride Report

My Dad and I are planning to do a trip from London, England to Tehran but my Iranian Passport hasn't been issued yet! I'm still waiting with fingers crossed..

How do you like the zumo 550? The only thing stopping me is that I've already planned my ride thoroughly on Google Earth and I'm unsure If i can export it to the GPS..Is it even possible to program a route as big as Germany to Iran on the Garmin?
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:18 PM   #70
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Don't read anything into it that isn't there.[/quote]

I do agree! Lets enjoy the report and the stunning pics. Thanks fŁr sharing. Great rr. Keep it coming.
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Old 05-17-2009, 03:20 PM   #71
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Thumb

Great Adventure, Fantastic photo's of the old ruins, & church's, beautiful country over there...Ride On....
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:43 AM   #72
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Yet more gorgeous photos. Also love the historical bits, and the interactions with locals.
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Old 05-22-2009, 05:22 AM   #73
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Orumiyeh to Takht-e-Soleyman


The manager of the Reza Hotel in Orumiyeh suggests that I visit Takht-e-Soleyman. I had never heard of the place but it sounds nice enough and wasn’t that far away. I had enough Iranian Rials left from my last visit to pay for the hotel and gas but I need to exchange some Euros before leaving town. The bazaar is across the street and I knew from my last visit that a money changer is usually nearby, which is the much faster option compared to banks. Well, that one was easy to spot!

With a map drawn by the hotel manager I find the gas station and my way out of the city easily.

I ride next to the Orumiyeh salt lake for a few kilometers.

I get gas once more in Miyandoab. I have a few phrases of Farsi written down and one is asking for the next gas station. I stop a teenager on a bike and he leads the way. I also learn what you do when you ride over one of the many hidden Iranian speed bumps: nothing, just hold on to your baseball cap! From Miyandoab it is a very scenic ride on a road with very little traffic. At some point there is a guy at the side of the road waving a little flag. I hit the breaks and discover that they just “tared” the road with what basically looks like some every thick oil. There is a dirt road right next to the road. Guess which one I take? That stuff would have been a very nasty mess.

I keep moving, admiring the views along the way


Before I left Turkey I downloaded the GPS coordinates of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran. Takht-e-Soleyman is one of them. Although I only have the Garmin World map for Iran it is easy to find, just heading in the general direction on the Zumo, using the paper map, and asking for directions quite often.
In the 3rd century Takht-e-Soleyman was the spiritual center of a then Zoroastrian Persia. Since then it has been modified and added to by the various powers occupying the area but today it is just ruins in a magnificent setting around a crater lake.




After having a stroll around the ruins I decide to stay for the night. I ride 4km back to climb Zendan-e-Soleyman, an about 100m conical mountain that sticks out like a tooth from the surrounding area. I just tried to kill some time and get a good look at Takht-e-Soleyman from a distance but once I reach the top I’m surprised to discover a huge pit. It is basically a hollow tooth. It won’t look good in a picture but is actually quite impressive to look at in person.

I pitch my tent just outside the ruins and I’m later joined by a German couple in a huge truck on their way back from India. The lone soldier guarding the site comes down for a chat and although his English is limited we have a good time. We tell him that we might attack the place in the middle of the night. So he better be ready.

It is a cold night (it’s above 2700m) and I get up for the sunset and climb a hill to have a look at Takht-e-Soleyman in the first light of the day.

When I come back to break down my campsite a group of pretty rowdy teenagers surrounds me. They all want me to start the bike, sit on it and keep touching everything on the bike. I have none of it and have my hands full stopping them from touching my stuff. They hang around for 30min, just to be followed by some better behaved Iranians. All this makes for a late start despite getting up so early.

Boarder06 screwed with this post 05-22-2009 at 05:38 AM
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Old 05-22-2009, 05:28 AM   #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanshaf
How do you like the zumo 550? The only thing stopping me is that I've already planned my ride thoroughly on Google Earth and I'm unsure If i can export it to the GPS..Is it even possible to program a route as big as Germany to Iran on the Garmin?
Well, just convert the Google Earth KML files into Garmin GPX files with GPS Babel (Google that).

I haven't planned a route at all. All I know is that I want to go as far as Shiraz and then work my way back. I do think there is such a thing as over planning, which keeps you on a tight schedule and stresses you out. I'm a big believer in chance encounters, getting advise from locals and other travellers and just going with the flow. I have time and this works for me. YMMV. I just get the basic facts as far as security, visas and so on and then just go for it.

I do recommend to get the Iran map from the Reise Know How Verlag in Germany. It's good and indestructable.
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Old 05-22-2009, 05:29 AM   #75
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Takht-e-Soleyman to Bijar


The German couple from last night recommended stopping at the Karaftu Caves. According to them a nice secluded spot where I could camp. Iím always weary of caves. They usually turn out to be the biggest tourist traps of any given country, with Lebanon winning the first price in that competition. However, with a firsthand recommendation I decide to go anyway. I stop at an Internet Cafe in Tekab and then make my way on a rapidly deteriorating road.

After a few wrong turns I finally find the right road to the caves and when I come around the last bend and see the parking lot I let out a small curse. It is jam packed with every kind of vehicle imaginable. So much for secluded. I cruise around on the nasty flagstone parking lot to find a spot and before I even come to a complete stop a guy comes running up to me and practically rips my hand of the handlebar to shake it. So, I hit the deck and Iím immediately surrounded by dozens of people. At least there are plenty of hands to pick up the bike. A quick survey reveals that there is no damage to the bike but the right luggage box has a nasty dent at the front corner. Waterproof no more. Thatís OK, I think. It wonít rain in Iran. I wait for the crowd to disperse and start climbing up to the caves, which frankly donít seem impressive to me at all.

Once Iím up I see a bunch of people gathering around my bike again, touching everything. I make my way down quickly and leave as fast as I can. Lesson learned. Never go to a ďsecluded spotĒ on a Friday!
I have to backtrack to Tekab and press on to Bijar to get some gas, where I find the friendly 22 year old Mohsen who guides me to the gas station in his car. While I get gas he asks me what my plan is. I say that I donít know and I just want to grab some food and figure it out later. He guides me to a couple of restaurants in town, which are closed. Once we find one thatís open he orders some food for me and drives his mom, who has been sitting in the car the whole time, home. He returns to the restaurant and while Iím eating my food it starts to rain. So much for ďno rain in IranĒ. I ask Mohsen if there is a hotel in town and as luck would have it there is one right above the restaurant. Very basic but also very cheap. We move the bike into the empty shop next door and all is well.

I just settle into my room, take a shower, walk around town a bit and later check my email at the internet cafe before going to bed.
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