November 30. Baharestan (Esfahan)

3 new posts today – not to miss any of them scroll down to November 28 – Internet is too slow for pictures in the moment – If I find a place to upload them you will be able to see some amazing pictures tomorrow!

Km today: approximately 50

At 7:30 in the morning Kia, the guard is already waiting to take me to the mechanic. It is raining today and freezing cold again. I think I am not lucky because of the rain but later that day Farzad tells me I am very lucky because people here appreciate rain. Its dessert and not Austria! It takes some time to find a mechanic. The only trademark which is not available in Iran seems to be Ford – I see workshops for Volkswagen, BMW, Chevrolet, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, Hyundai, Daewoo, Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, Mercedes, Kia, Landrover, Volvo, Opel, Madza, Mitsubishi,….. but for Ford you don´t even get spare parts in Iran. So if you want to travel with your car NEVER do with a Ford. I really love suryananda but Ford is crap – sorry I have to say so.

The first mechanic tells me repair no possible, maybe he can get spare parts from Dubai but this will take time. The next one tells me he can fix the problem but it will be a solution for some time only – he advices me to go to a Ford workshop either in Pakistan or in India so they can finally fix all. However after searching for a mechanic for more than two hours and already being afraid we have to wait for parts from Dubai I am happy. While the car is being fixed Kia drinks Chai and I write a little. In the meantime heavy snowfall starts. After the mechanic finished his work I change some money to pay and we get tire chains in case there will be snow on the road. (Much of Pakistan is pretty high mountains – Baharestan is around 1700 and people tell me on the way to Yazd I have to pass a mountain – in fact I feel like on a mountain all the time as I have hardly ever been below 1000 since coming to Kappadokia in Turkey!

To make suryananda happy we change motor and gear oil so I hope all will be fine for the way through Pakistan. When test driving suryananda really feels much better. I am hopeful to pass Pakistan without any more major problems about the engine. I buy a lot of vegetables for cooking Indian food and suddenly Farzad calls he will be with us in 20 minutes to show me Esfahan! Great! After an exhausting day at the workshop I will make some sightseeing in this amazing city. He shows me the most important places but like always I am more interested in the people than in the sight. I recognize the beauty of Persian girls and ask two times if I can take pictures (to show my friends no need to wear chador in Iran). They really are happy about me taking pictures – no problem at all!

Then Sara joins us and a guy from a carpet shop catches me. I can´t refuse his Invitation for chai and telling me a little about carpets. In fact we have a very open and interesting philosophical discussion and only very little is spoken about carpets. Its late already so we leave soon and on the way back to the car I see LOVE pillows (made in china) for the mirror in the car in a tourist shop. What to do this I simply have to buy even though the shopkeeper seeing my desire is nearly a little unfriendly. We drive back to Farzad and Saras place and as it is very late already we order pizza. I will cook for them tomorrow!

November 29 near Saveh – Baharestan [32°28´22.3“, 051°47´31.2“]

Km today: 382

I wake up at 11:30 and quickly have chai. I put some petrol in the back containers yesterday so I can drive all night even if no petrol station open and as I am pretty empty I want to put it in the tank. But when I go to the cockpit I see electric was switched on all night because I didn’t take of the key. A little shocked, believing battery will be empty I try to start. Suryananda starts pretty quickly so I don’t want to switch of again and hit the road without even leaving the car.

Petrol is getting less in the tank but petrolstation only 25 (do – panch km – there are many similarities with hindi) to go. Two km before the petrolstation the engine stops. I am hardly out of the car when a motorcyclist stops asking me if I need any help. Masaley nist I reply – no problem. I put the petrol in the tank and on we go. The road is still excellent but mostly used by truck drivers now. Im on the silk route which is a cargo street… Nearly one out of three trucks sound there horn to say hello and after wave hands and smile at me. I am in bliss.

About 200km before Esfahan (todays target) I see need petrol again and stop at a petrol station. “Benzin? Petrol? Diesel na!” I try to explain what I want but nobody understands. One moment later a proper dressed young guy stands next to the car ready to translate. While I get petrol we start talking and I tell him everything fine – but the engine. I find out he is from Esfahan area and soon he tells me where to go to find mechanics there. After paying for the petrol I move the car a little and stop again to have chai with Farzad and Sara.

They are just on the way home. They refuse my invitation for having chai at the shop by asking if I make chai in the car myself. My milk is finished so no possible. Within seconds they have everything needed for making coffee on the backside of their car. In the guidebook I read Persians are world champions in making picnic – seems like this is true! Minutes later they invite me to their home to have dinner. “I´d love to” I reply and Farzad writes down his exact address for me – in English and Persian (farsi).

Back on the road soon the sun sets so I decide to go directly to Farzad and Saras place and find mechanic tomorrow. When I approach Esfahan around 7 pm traffic is crazy. Engine stops as soon as my foot is not on the gas so it takes a lot of work to handle the traffic having two feet only. I have to go to a small city close by so I stop and ask for the way several times. Everybody is very friendly and helpful so I don’t get lost one time. When I come closer to their home, being in an area where probably no tourist has been before I get stopped two times and the drivers ask me where I want to go and offer help. When I am just around the corner and know the way already somebody is driving next to me waving hands and shouting at me… I stop and he immediately asks: “Are you lost?” So I tell him that I am not lost and all is well. “You had dinner already?” he continues asking….. What to do two invitations in one evening no possible – I can´t believe the hospitality in this country!

Minutes later I arrive at Farzad and Saras place. I have to make the guard understand where I want to go first but after two minutes Kia calls Farzad on his phone and Farzad appears. Their home is awesome. Its much nicer than any flat in Europe I have ever seen even though it´s European style in a way. All is just comfortable and before I can say much Farzad asks me if I want to take a shower…. YES! I think he read my thoughts. I have a long and very hot wonderful shower and after we enjoy dinner together. The first Persian food I really enjoy! Its amazing and tastes completely different than the restaurant stuff. It’s a little bit like Indian sabji and dhal with rice and chapati. Less spicy and with meat – and I love it! Everything possible in Persia! After food I want to go home to write blog and sleep in suryananda but when I say so Farzad and Sara seem to be very disappointed. I have to sleep at their place and I really sleep well this night!

November 28. Azar Shahr – 30km before Saveh [35°21´10.9”, 050°43´40.3”]

Km today:764

I wake up little late and when going to toilet I recognize today the water is not freezing but frozen cold. I am glad I have tissues… Suryananda starts after the usual coughers and we hit the road. Still we have no power and hardly go more than 70-80 km/h. I believe she is still cold so I go on but it´s not getting really better. The mechanic did his best and didn´t charge anything so it makes no sense going back. I stay on the road and decide to search for a Ford workshop in Teheran.

After 150km I stop at a teastall to have some chai and meet two policeofficers. We drink chai together and chat as much as possible (Where are you from, are you traveling alone…). After I take some pictures to show the world average policeman in Iran is much more friendly than police in the west. Actually all police until here refused to make any pictures of them. The Highway in Iran is amazing most of it being much better than Austrian highways. The policecontrols I expected every 50km simply do not exist in this part of Iran. Like in Europe they are standing next to the road every now and then but more busy drinking chai and washing car than controlling anybody. Toll stations are amazing too! People there are just very welcoming and when I reach the toll station in Zanjan the guy welcomes me to Zanjan, invites me to visit his city and invites me for the toll. I am little confused when to pay and when I have to show the ticket at the toll stations but soon I find out I am simply being invited nearly at every second toll station. All the other people pay every time…. Unbelievable!

As sunset is coming I leave the Highway and search for Internet in Zanjan. Little hard to find but people help me and soon I find a place where I can use my own computer and update the blog. Searching for a Ford workshop in Iran I find out Ford simply does not exist in Iran…. I spend more than an hour at Internet and go back to the car to find out I got a ticket for parking… I ignore it more or less putting it on the sit next to me and the officer who wrote the ticket helps me to get out of the parking place…. (crazy people here). For a moment I think about spending the night here but then decide to go on. Suryananda is very slow so I can only make miles by the time I drive and not by speed. If possible I´d like to reach Esfahan today which is about 700km to go. I could take a shortcut but its already late and I am concerned not to find anybody to ask for the way so I stay on the highway and take a little detour going via Teheran.

I make little stop to take food while driving and find out Austrian drinks possible in Iran! No Melange but Redbull! YEAH! Traffic in Teheran is simply crazy – even around midnight. I get lost and stop a car on the street to ask for the way. The guy speaks not one word English but he doesn´t give up until he believes I know the way. Within minutes I am back on the right way. I stop one more time directly on the highway just to make sure and immediately somebody stops to help me. I pass Teheran and little more than 100km after I get very tired. I find a petrol station and stop there to sleep at 2:30 in the morning. 764 km with a damaged engine – average speed around 65 and more than 20l petrol on 100km again.

November 27. Azar Shahr

I made 2 blog entries this time so scroll down not to miss my great first day in iran!

Km today: 0

First time I wake up 6:30 but it´s much too early as no one will start to do anything before 10. I go to the toilet (a hole in the ground with nearly freezing water for washing) and then back to bed. Inside is summer so I continue sleeping until 10:30. The first thing I hear today is the sound of a carwash! YEAH! That’s exactly what we need now! Suryananda is full dirty because of the snowy road in the mountains. So the plan for today is fixed: Wash suryananda, refill my own gas tank and repair the engine.

I am curious if I will be able to leave today as it is half past 12 already and nobody started to fix my car yet. I make music for the people again and after I am invited for breakfast. When I come back the mechanic tells me he is sorry for the delay and he will start in half an hour so I wait inside suryananda. Half an hour later I get out and see him sitting next to his oven inside the workshop with his finger full bleeding.

He had an accident 1 minute ago and I can see the pain in his face – his finger looks bad. The other guys make first aid and after they are done I give him reiki. When I am finished he is already smiling again and even though I tell him to rest a little he starts fixing suryananda immediately. The next thing I really need to do is to refill my gas tank. It takes me all afternoon to explain what I want (the guy who helped me yesterday is not here all day). Finally suryananda is ready after they take of the cylinder head again and in the same second the guy who helped me with the gas yesterday comes.

We drink chai and go to the gas shop to refill my tank. They don´t have the connection for my tank so they just fix one tube into another to refill mine tank to tank. First I am not sure if they really know what they are doing as everything looks very dangerous and strange to me. But finally the tank is full, we leave back to the workshop and see a wonderful sunset on the way back. When we arrive at the workshop I want to pay the mechanic and at the carwash. I find out the mechanic is gone already but he said I don´t need to pay – he needed no spare parts only adjustments had to be done. I read in the guidebook it is polite in Iran to refuse payment 2 times before accepting so I ask at least five times how to give him the money. The other guys around me call him and he says again and again no money – same does Wahet from carwash! I make little present for both of them including dried roses from Istanbul, incense from India and homemade apricot chutney.

We drink lots of chai when they ask me about my religion. I try to explain for me there is only one god and I refuse to give too much attention to his name because calling him god or Allah makes people fight even though they believe in the same god. They show me Koran television and are amazed when I show them my Koran (book) I have with me. Again and again many people ask me “Iran good? Iran bad country – no?”. I really don’t understand how anyone in the world can believe Iran is a bad country! Iran is not good – Iran is amazing! After chai I am invited to hamam – they tell me to relax for two hours and after they will pick me up at the workshop. I want to leave early tomorrow morning so hamam sound great program for tonight!

Wahet is quarter an hour late so I think already he will not come. He picks me up with his brother and then we make little sightseeing tour. Hamam was obviously a misunderstanding. Two more friends of Wahet need to be picked up so the car is full soon. Of course I have to sit in the front. We buy some food for me and go to a festival which is really amazing. Seeing a small Iranian dessert city at night first time is amazing too. Only two stored brick buildings. Everybody looks at me like I am the first westerner they ever see. (Which is probably the case as I am a little of the beaten track if such exists in Iran.) All the people call me “mister” and many say “I love you” (probably the only words they know in English) so I have to laugh a lot. After the festival we go to a small soya mill where all people meet in the second floor to drink chai and smoke shisha. Soon there are more than 20 people in the room. Nobody speaks English but I learn my first words in farsi: Masaley nist means “no problem, chub (pronounced german like) means good and arame “slowly” (in hindi aramse means relax so this is easy to remember). The evening passes very fast and soon I am back in the car. What an amazing experience!

November 26. Orumiyeh – Azar Shahr [37°51´32.9“, 045°56´37.8“]

Km today:121 (868)

First day in Iran and a lot to tell – forget everything you believe to know about this
country – I am up in the highlands and its freezing cold!

First time in this trip I wake up in a hotel. And I wake up early which is 7:30 local, but 6 o clock Turkish time. I have little breakfast (carrotjam!) and after I have success going to internet. Facebook and youtube as well as many other sites are not possible. Nevermind. The loads of hot water I had yesterday were gone in the morning so I ask for help at the reception. I talk to the manager on the phone as he speaks perfect English and tell him the problem. He sounds very sweet so I ask him for a mechanic too to solve the starting problem (still I am not sure if suryananda has full power, I want the spark plugs to be checked too).

At half past ten I meet karim, the manager at the reception and he is as cute as he sounded. By the way the reason why I had hot water in the morning – hot was marked blue and cold red at the sink… He is ready to go to a mechanic with me to translate. I go out to the carpark and fix everything for leaving. For a moment I am shocked because I can´t find the carnet the passage but minutes after I find it. When Karim comes I try to start the engine. But as this was the coldest night yet (10°below zero) the battery is finished before the engine starts. Suryananda is pissed because I slept in the hotel!

Karim jumps in his car and picks up a mechanic to be back hardly 15 minutes later. The mechanic discovers a problem in the spark plug cable and replaces it with a normal electric cable just winding the iron together (…). He adjusts the carburetor and suryananda start without any problem. He asks me if the sound is ok but I simply can´t tell as there is a powercut and the generator of the hotel next to us sounds like a helicopter landing. However I want to leave so I am satisfied. Back at the reception I ask Karim if it is a problem to sleep in the car in Iran. He tells me its no problem but better to ask police so I can sleep inside a police station and not on the road. Especially in Baluchistan (eastern Iran). I know this is true. I´d search at least for a 24h petrol station anyway.

Though it is a little strange to me why all the people on my way think and tell bad things about their neighbor tribes. Turkish are afraid of Kurdish, Kurdish are afraid of people from Baluchistan. And in this area it has nothing to do with any political borders. Here the borders seem to be inside the country and the real, political borders are right in the middle of the real county Karim explains the way very exactly and I say “thank you” (I forgot farsi thank you again) many times.

I get lost twice in the streets of Orumiyeh but everytime there a very friendly people helping me. 20 minutes after leaving the hotel I am on the road to Tabriz. The road is flat like a lake but still we are not able to go faster than 80 km in an hour. Feels like one or maybe even two spark plugs not working again so I decide to search for a mechanic. I cross the bridge on Orumiyeh lake and what I see is something between amazing and an ecological catastrophe. The lake itself is saltwater in a concentration like the dead sea but the water is extremely low. The “bridge” is made out of rocks and sand making a wall crossing nearly all the lake. At the end of this “bridge” there is a small real bridge so ships can pass… The view is still amazing…

I am used to find mechanics in every small village directly at the roadside in india but here – nothing. I stop at a small teastall and using the images in the no words dictionary again I ask for a mechanic. 50km (!) they tell me.

Slowly we go on passing a few dessert hills and then for 20km crossing a superflat area which has been lake years ago. (The water of the feeding rivers is nowadays mostly used for Irrigation – funny enough I see a big sign telling even in English about how important lakes like this are for the local ecosystem). At the end of this flats I see a little city. As it has been nearly 50km since the teastall I believe I will find a mechanic here and leave the motorway to Tabriz. Soon I see a mechanic on the roadside and stop there.

Using my lighter I try to explain the spark plugs have a problem. Immediately five people start working and another one, who speaks a little English asks me if I am hungry. It is freezing cold even though the sky is blue so I am very happy about this offer as I haven’t seen any opened place to eat or even drink a tea around. We go to a small restaurant in the neighborhood that I thought is closed. Of course I leave the car key at the mechanics and for a short moment I get a little worried as all my things are in there. Passport and money a little hidden but computer, camera, gps and things like these relatively open…. So I ask “lock the car?” “no problem!” my new friend replies.

I know “no problem” so I don’t think about it any further. The restaurant is amazing! People are sitting on wooden plateaus on a carpet having big pillows for the back. I enjoy food and tea. Before I realize what is happening my new friend shakes my hand and leaves. Obviously he has been in a hurry before already which didn’t stop him translating and spending time for me. I ask for the bill but it has already been paid. I can´t even say “thank you” (not even in English).

Back at the workshop everything is fine. Spark plugs ARE a problem. One is completely finished as the ceramic for isolation is broken. It takes a few hours to get new ones so I wait inside the workshop drinking tea with many many very nice people of which no one spoke one word in a language I know. No problem… we enjoy!

Later somebody comes again who speaks little English and he translates their questions for me. They ask me why I drive an old car like this? Are the people in Austria so poor? (They were really concerned – I could see in their faces when this was translated) I have several short discussions about “our nations being enemies” (of course I try to tell them we are neutral – but some of them don’t even know Austria – So I am a westerner…). Anyway all of us agree in the fact where the real terrorist on the planet are – bombing foreign countries. In fact no one of these helpful, loving people could ever be my enemy.

When the spark plugs arrive suryananda is fixed within minutes and they tell me to start the engine. Even though it´s freezing cold and the engine was not running for hours it starts immediately. YEAH! Problem solved! (I think). But then somebody else who speaks little English tells me the mechanic hears a strange sound at the cylinder head. I already had a feeling like it should be checked a few thousand kilometers after everything was been repaired in Istanbul.

Sun sets and the mechanic tells me via the English speaking guy he wants to check the engine. I agree even though he says he can´t make it before tomorrow morning because it will take 3-4 hours and he will probably need spare parts which are not available at night. I ask for the price which is one million (60€) for the working time. Nice price I think and I am very happy to have found a mechanic who listens to the sound of the engine and tells me the problem. Before most of them fix just a little so I can go on but this one seems to really know what he is doing. I already thought the problem with the mechanics is the language – but it´s simply hard to find a good mechanic.

So I will stay here for tonight. I think about my gas tank as I believe its nearly empty and ask if it´s possible to refill it. It is freezing cold as I am at an elevation of 1300m out somewhere in the dessert – night will be even worse. “No problem” I hear. We take the gas tank and jump in a car of one of the guys surrounding me. It´s too late already to refill mine so the man at the shop where we go offers to borrow me one of his tanks for tonight.

Without me even thinking about it we stop at a small food store. Of course I need something to eat! Inside everything is very unfamiliar so in the first moment I don’t see anything but potato chips. But slowly I look a little closer and find all I need – tomatoes, bread, butter, a little chocolate – Perfect!

Coming back we have little problem with the connection of the gas tank but again they work half an hour in the freezing cold to fix it. Using a lighter they check if all is ok and seeing my face when they do so they laugh. Seconds later they take of the tube, open the gas tank and put the lighter directly in front of the tube. A big flame appears but when they close the tank it disappears again not even touching the tube (the gas has to mix with oxygen before burning so it´s not possible the flame can touch the tube – western countries are sometimes simply boring I think).
When fixing the gas tank they see the instrument in the living room and ask me to make some music. I take the doumbek and play a little. They love it. Because of the cold I stop soon to turn on the heating and prepare suryananda for the night.

I park her in the back of the workshop and a very friendly guy who just came invites me and my driver for having tea. He speaks little English (he´d prefer Turkish or Japanese(!)) but I speak only English german and little hindi – sorry. I read in the guidebook it is important to speak a little farsi when travelling in Iran. This is (up to now) simply not true. People who want to talk but speak only different languages (most people here speak Turkish, Kurdish and farsi) take a cellphone immediately to call somebody who speaks English – no problem!.

After tea they make sure it is warm enough inside suryananda to sleep there. Like in Hosap where 3 people invited me to sleep at their home they are really concerned if it will be warm enough for me. It is warm inside! Until now I only turned on the heating half power because I wanted to save gas. In Iran Gas and Oil seems to be like air and water. No problem, so I turn on heating fullpower. When we check after having tea its already pretty warm inside and during I write blog I remove more and more “onion layers”. Little later I have more than 25° inside and fall asleep happily.

Until now I had a little the feeling like I miss the sights. Now I realize this trip is not really about architecture, history or nature tourist places. It’s a trip to the people, to their hearts and to mine. Communication is much more than words – it is love, it is music, it is smile and hugs! Thank you for all the love you give me, I am sorry I can in no way remember all of your names – I promise I will remember your eyes, your smile and your inner (and outer) beauty! I will keep you in my heart.

What a day! I love too much! Thank you!

November 25. Hosap – Orumiyeh (Iran) [N37°33´00,4”, E045°04´24,8“]

At search for: 37°33´00.4”, 045°04´24,8“ (here it says university of pittsburg which is definetley NOT true)

Km today: 225

I wake up early and recognize the sun is shining. Before meeting my friend from Internet café who invited me for breakfast I quickly clean the car. At the internet café we had a quite nice conversation yesterday using google translate to talk. Half past eight I am at the internet café and we go and have breakfast. I take the chance of the big and warm room and make a little yoga together with my new friend. Teaching yoga works without talking I find out! Nice, so I don’t need to interrupt silence for teaching next time! The breakfast with Kurdish people is awesome! Homemade bread and curd with omlet and nutella (they bought just for me).

When we are finished it is too late already to walk up to the castle. It´s ok for me as it is still very cold and I still have a cold too. In the morning ice was drifting down the river – now it stopped so I believe the road will be ok too. I leave around 10:30. Suryananda has starting problems again but all the people help (even though I don’t need it) so no problem. 5 minutes later engine is running and I chalo.

Quickly I pass the point where I had to turn around yesterday and soon I am glad I had to turn there. The following kilometers I climb up in first gear. Again snow on the road and I know if I stop it will not be possible to go on. Left and right of the road I see the victims of the night before. A few trucks lying next to the street or just being pulled out. I reach the top at 2755m (says gps – sign says 2730) and after I go down. I takes more than 2 hours to reach the town where I wanted to spend the night (only 50km way). I take some petrol for suryananda, drink chai there and soon continue. I can´t blame suryananda for taking so much petrol if we go up mountains like this. The landscape is unbelievable beautiful again – at least inside, in the warmth of suryananda.

I reach the border more than 1 hour before sunset and what I see there is incredible. People who say I have chaos at home should come here. It´s just crazy! There are only 2 borders between turkey and Iran and here is one gate hardly wide enough for two cars. But this one gate is the only way for both directions. The custom formalities are done within minutes but finding my way through the chaos takes more than 2 hours. All is blocked because everybody goes until no more place to go on. So forth and back many times to make way for people coming to turkey whilst trying not to fall back in the mass of cars that go to iran.

Custom officer are always amazed when I ask them what “thank you” means in their language and then immediately keep saying it for all they do for me. They don’t even check the car. When they ask me if I have any alcohol I make a shocked face so they stop explaining it is not allowed and smile in a second. It seems like people becoming even more friendly here. I change 100 euro and within seconds I am millionaire. I get nearly 1,5 million Iranian rial! When I come to Iran it is already dark. I pass the first petrol station as I read in the guidebook foreigners have to buy a ration card before it is possible to go to the petrol station. Orumiyeh, the next city is only 50km to go so it will be no problem.

When I go down a hill and already see the lights of the city the engine stops. Petrol finished. I read in the guidebook it will be no problem if anything like this happens and in fact they wrote exactly: “If you run out of petrol people will help you within minutes.” Well I believe they would do so in all the countries I crossed yet but here it is dark and very cold. I don’t want to stand out there waiting for help – not even for minutes! In the same moment I see a petrol station and as we are going down the hill nearly 100km/h I roll out exactly in front of the petrol pipe. Nobody asks for ration card. I tell them to make full and pay half a million for 65 liters of petrol. So the second petrol station after the border takes little more than 50c/l! NICE! I like Iran! I quickly drink a chai and go on to the city.

I use the map from the guidebook and find the hotel they suggest immediately. Lonely planet proves to be very helpful again. Quarter million for one night sounds expensive so I check the other hotels around. But they are only little cheaper and some of them have no hot water and no internet. So I take the one lonely planet suggest and pay 15€ for a nice warm room with (loads of) hot water, breakfast, locked carpark and internet in the lobby. A fair price in fact.

So I am in Iran now! Feels very nice here and people are incredibly friendly. I can´t wait to see this all in daylight. I put my stuff in the room have an expensive and awful pizza at one of the only restaurants still open past 8 and go back to the room to have a real hot shower (remember? In the last hamam no real hot water possible…) and write todays experiences down and take a look at the pictures I made when driving. Now I am only curious how Internet will work here…. Youtube? Facebook? Speed? We will see…..

Haha that was funny. I go to the lobby and get a cable to connect to the internet but it doesn’t work. I try for ten minutes to find out what the problem is until the younger guy comes back telling me “Sir in Iran no Internet 7pm to 7am”… so I will post tomorrow morning and as long as I am in Iran there will be no postings possible 4:30pm to 4:30am cet. So probably updates will come rather in the morning when I am in Iran.

By the way facebook and youtube are not possible here so no videoupdates for now.

November 24. Van – Hoşap [N38°18´28.1”, E043°48´82.2”]

Google maps doesnt work here. İf you copy paste this to the last google maps link in the last post you should be able to find me:
38°18´28.1”, 043°48´82.2”


Km today: 93

I sleep until 8 today and after wake up check internet and change some money. I have enough time as it is not far to the Iranian border. I saw a hospital and many tents from red half moon (like red cross) yesterday so I go there as I believe they know where to bring the chocolate I took for the children. Again nobody understands one word but showing them what I want works. Anyway it takes many chai and a meal at the hospital before they bring me to some tents where some families live who lost their homes. We have a really nice time at their tent even though we can´t talk. But similar to the experiences I made when I did not talk at all this year I recognize nobody needs words to understand each other (if you are just willing to…) Everybody here loves my colorful pants from india. I think about taking a few hundred with me on the way back. During this a lot of snow is falling so I don’t mind the time it takes.

We drive a little to go to the camp and the children there are happy as can be as they get chocolate. Their smiles are simply amazing. Again we drink chai and of course I have to stay a little. When I leave Van it is very late already. I see lots of military in the streets again. It´s foggy and still snow falling – suryananda is very slow again but when I check the gps I find out we are nearly at 2000m again so it´s just the steepness of the road why we are soooo slow. We go up a mountain valley when suddenly more and more snow is falling. Evening is coming too and when I drive down the road to a small village I recognize children sliding on the street just beneath an amazing castle on a rock above the street.

I pass the village and suddenly there is all full of snow on the street. It´s just 50km to the next town, half an hour before sunset so I decide to stop there for the tonight. It becomes harder and harder to find the street as nearly all is completely white. Sky, street and surrounding… I recognize to trucks next to the street putting snow chains on their wheels when climbing a hill. Suddenly we stop. Wheels are still turning but suryananda is not moving. One second I am afraid I am stuck and have to spend the night here.

But then I try to turn around as this place is far too dangerous to stop. When I go down the hill again I start sliding but I am able to keep control and soon drive back to the village very very slowly. Street gets worse and worse and I am afraid it might not be possible to reach the village which is around 5km back. I am stupid enough to pass a petrol station as I prefer to sleep in the village but lucky again I arrive there 2 minutes later.

As soon as I stop I am surrounded by a lot of friendly people. I get a lot of chai, food and they even offer me a place to sleep (all for free they do not accept one lira) – even though we can´t talk to each other at all! It takes me some time to find out it will be no problem to reach Iran tomorrow. I show them the Internet sign in the no words dictionary and no problem. Internet yes but no wifi. No problem as I have usb pens with me. After having food with musd who speaks a little englishI go to suryananda to write the blog and after go to internet. Musd gives me his phone number and says he believes there will be no problem reaching Iran but if I need any help I am welcome to call him any time. I really appreciate this. By the time I see big trucks on the street cleaning the snow. People make me understand it will be no problem to go to Iran tomorrow as street will be ok until 10 o clock. They suggest to take a look at the Kurdish castle in the morning and I definitely want to do this.

November 23. Diyabakir – Van [N38°30,043´ E043°23,732´]


km today: 369

When I wake up in the morning I recognize I have a bad cold. I already felt yesterday and took a pill in the evening but it didn’t help that much. I fix my stuff quickly, pay for the parking and search for a petrol station. Then I leave direction Batman. Today the landscape is unbelievable beautiful again. I start in the dessert and climb up to a maximum of 2238m above sea level. Sun is shining and people are waving and greeting all day again. Every day a little more. When I arrive at lake Van the road is blocked. I take the last place in the queue and a view pictures. When I get out of the car people tell me to drive on. So I drive to the front end of the queue and see the road is blocked. Big rocks from the earthquake are being removed from the street. The view is as breathtaking as the altitude.

Lake Van is more than 1600m above sea level. The place where I sleep tonight (in front of internet café using their wifi) is little less than 1800… Van is great. The earthquake damaged some houses pretty much but most of them are still ok to live in. All nearly business as usual here. Iran border is less than 250 km away so I will cross it tomorrow or the day after. Not so many stories to tell today. I am astonished by the view all day and enjoy music and driving a lot. I arrive in Van just before sunset so the timing is perfect.

The internet possibilities in turkey were really great! I don’t know yet if it will be possible in Iran to post as regularly as I did until now. Anyway I will keep writing down my experiences every evening so you can enjoy them as soon as I get Internet.

November 22 Diyabakir

Km today: 0

Omar is ten minutes early so I quickly find my things to explore this oriental city. He tells me he has to work all day so a friend will do the guiding. Nevermind. We say goodbye (rosch basch – have a nice day in Kurdish) and shake hands. My new guide and me go to have a cup of famous diyabakir coffe at a small restaurant where locals take their breakfast. We make a walk through an amazing bazaar where smiths and carpenters are working in the street. One street smiths, one street carpenter – I am in asia!

In the guidebook and many blogs I read it is hard to make contact with people here. My experience is completely different. All people are looking in my eyes and smiling when I smile (all day) at them. Old and young, man and woman…. And I am invited to have chai everywhere. I find out Kurdish is just another indogermanic language and within hours learn the most important phrases.

We take a look at the citywall which was built in the 11 century and is the second biggest wall in the world. Standing on that wall I see river tigris for the first time. We go to a small fishing tackle store and they sell fish from the river too. Carp and a kind of barbel (not the European one). I buy a little tackle and decide to do some fishing on the tigris – but a little further away from any city. Visiting a music instrument shop a very nice old guy shows me some drums and makes little music for me. I fall in love with a frame drum and buy it. When I see some jets in the sky I am told that there is some bombing at the Iraq border again – no reason to be excited seems this is business as usual.

I try some Turkish tobacco, but the light one is still much too strong for me. Still I am amazed by the sellers who offer their tobacco in big plastic bags sitting on the street. We visit a very old kerwanserei which is a kind of shoppingcenter now. In the cellar is an amazing bookshop but no Karl May books (only Turkish books of course). I´d love to have one of his books with me now. We have some kebap together and in the afternoon I go to hamam again.

Like I learned in Istanbul I go in and have a long shower first. I have been sweating a lot the day before so I really enjoy even though the water is not as hot as I would have liked. As there is only one other guy inside I ask him if he is giving the massage. Obviously he doesn’t understand one word but he starts massaging. It’s a little strange but its my second time so I don’t know what to think about it. Soon he start to massage my ass removing my towel more and more and asking “Yes? Yes?” “Nau!” (No!) I say and put my towel back in place. I would have been a real funny situation if I wouldn’t have been so confused. In a muslim country I would never have expected something like this. Just another lesson in “no expectations” :D.

Soon the real masseur comes washing and massaging me for nearly an hour. When he is finished I am so hot I just want to take a cool shower. Unfortunately the cool water is not really cool either. Never mind I was never ever before in my life so clean. I drink another chai (probably the 20. Today) in the hamam and when I am leaving I am nearly to tired to go back to suryananda. I take a little rest and too soon Omer and his friend pick me up to have some coffee. They ask me again if I want to buy some carpets (no I don’t) and soon I go home. Coffee is strong but I am too tired. Going to bed not too late is ok for me so I can leave early tomorrow morning…..

November 21 Mesopotamia

November 21 Gürün – Diyabakir [N 37°54´56,4” E 040°14´05,4“]


Km today: 385

Today I wake up around 8 o clock and recognize the front window is frozen – inside. I remove the curtain between “living room” and cockpit and within minutes the ice melts. I have coffee at a bar and see the neighbor shop is selling fishing gear. I try to ask what kind of fish they have but no English possible. So I find out myself as there is a little river close by my car park. Its trout! For a moment I think about unpacking my fishing gear bur then I decide to drive on. Suryananda needs a few attempts again but then the engine is running.

The night was clear and cold so now the sky is blue. The scenery is superamazing and I really enjoy driving today while listening to music and singing in the car. All day people standing next to the road greeting me waving hands and making peace signs. I can in no way describe the happiness I feel today. All problems of the last weeks seem to be solved and all is bliss again. I pass mountains driving up to 1900 meter and amazing lakes, I cross river euphrat and meet the most friendly people someone can imagine in Kurdistan. I leave the mountains and keep taking of clothes until I am dressed in pants, t shirt and chapels. It is warm again after more than a week of freezing in Austria, Istanbul and mountains of central turkey.

At sunset, which is at 4pm already in eastern turkey, I arrive in Diyarbakir. Like suggested in the guidebook I go directly to the center. I don’t believe to find possibility for camping there but at least I want to try. Traffic is hell – traffic like this was much easier to handle on a motorbike last year in india…. No possible to go inside the old city so I park in front of a hotel at the wall. I take food at the hotel and ask if its ok to stay there and maybe use there wifi connection. No problem. When I am back in the car I find out the hotel has very weak signal outside so I look if I see the name of the strongest signal somewhere. It’s a car rental right next to where suryananda is parked.

I go inside and ask for the code using only the “no words dictionary” (a dictionary with pictures only). Within minutes the small room is full of people who want to share tea with me. Ten minutes later somebody who speaks English arrives – there seems to be a problem with the internet. He explains the manager of the car rental has forgotten the code – but no problem he searches the office for half an hour and finally finds it. I am more than impressed once again – I walk into a shop and they work half an hour like mad to get free (and fast) internet for me while I drink lots of free tea…. I love Kurdistan. Tomorrow Omar (the one who speaks English – he is tourist guide too) will show me the sights of the city and some people who make traditional Kurdish music.