Nurdagi – Adana

13.4.2013

Km counter: 42330 today: 155 sum: 7212

N37°13’52” E036°53’22” – N36°59’39” E035°19’46”

Temperature is nice again, nobody bothers me again, its Sunday and only 160km to go to Adana where I hope my computer will be repaired tomorrow – I sleep until 10 and have a very shanty start today. I took some 20 liters more petrol yesterday so I can easily make Adana and 150 more still having reserve. The road goes gently down when I hear a horn from behind (happens approximately every five minutes – people say hello like this), I turn and see the first Austrian number plates for months. Its two guys from turkey as I find out when we stop right on the motorway. We have a little chat and go on. A little later the motorway is blocked. I take a little walk and a few pictures and then the traffic jam is finished. We go on as if nothing had happened. Nice break! Michi sent me a message yesterday with the address of a shop where they might be able to change the screen. The navigation system works here so no problem. The people from Austria told me most shops are open on Sunday so we will see – I am just a little scared of driving into a big city and searching a place close to the shop for to sleep…

But everything is perfect! Even though the shop is close to the city center there is more than enough space for parking. As I find out now its Saturday and the shop actually is open! When I get out of Suryananda I like this city immediately . At the shop they change the screen within ten minutes for an amazing price, offer me never ending amazing coffee and after everything is done they even take the time to show me a nice hamam and a place to eat. The choice between Hamam and Adana Kebap is like between heaven and paradise. I decide to have food first. By the time the sun sets and it becomes a little chilly. After eating I hurry back to the Hamam Deniz showed me. I cant stop enjoying the hot water and the hot and steamy air. I wash myself for an hour and then get washed and massaged for another half an hour. I enjoy the hot water again and relax like I did not for a long time. I do some nice relaxing Yoga in the amazing architectural surrounding of the steamy chamber. When I leave the hamam its late at night and I feel like 10cm taller. On the way back to suryananda I pass a nice parl with some people so I decide to get the guitar and do some street music here. It’s a rather strange experience as people seem to like the music but don’t stop to listen. They make movies from far away and don’t come any closer. I play for half an hour and then visit Café Munduz next to the computer repair shop. They offer free wifi and it’s no problem for them to keep the wifi turned on so I have internet tonight – they even give me a free drink when I leave. I like Adana.

If you have any problems with your laptop when travelling turkey – contact Deniz and Ridvan! They speak very good English, are very pleased to help travelers and easy to find. Car park no problem even though close to the city center and wifi available. If you spend a night there go to café Munduz next door and ask them not to turn of the wifi at night. You find the shop at the coordinates mentioned as destination above, and you can use www.adananotebooktamiri.com. If you can’t check the homepage because you face a problem with your computer call them: 0530 252 30 74 or 0322 457 0 450.

Kannca – Nurdagi

12.4.2013

42175 Km counter: 42175 today: 535 sum: 7057

N38°17’37” E041°59’43” – N37°13’52” E036°53’22”

It’s a good place I found hidden between the trailer of a truck and a small forest. Nobody bothers me and the temperature is nice so I sleep until around 9:30. After waking up I put the waste water tank petrol in the petrol tank and then go. Landscape is amazing mountain scenery with a lot of melting water in the river down below me. Soon it changes to steep gut not very high, green hills with rivers everywhere in between. The last 100km before Diyabarkir it reminds me a little of Ireland.

In Diyarbakir I make a short stop to change some money and do some shopping. I find a carrefour supermarket next to a bank and stop. Carrefour is the first real supermarket I see since the one in Lahore – but here they have even more! I get bread tomatoes, jam, butter,….. and then leave town as soon as possible. My Austrian sim card is working here so I call friends for to search a shop that can repair my computer in Adana – the fourth biggest town of turkey. Should be possible there only questions are how much it will be and how long it will take. I got messed up with the days of the week so I believe its already Saturday. I will not reach Adana today (at least not at daytime) and Sunday (tomorrow) shops will be closed so I go slowly.

After Diyarbakir the landscape changes again and we go on a plateau of a rocky sea. Its amazing and I can’t resist to take some stones for the fish tank with me. Soon the sun sets and after sunset everything changes when driving. The landscape disappears and you focus only the street – driving becomes even more meditation and I go on and on. 250km before Adana there is the first (automatic) toll station. It is late at night and there is no office on my side of the motorway. In an attempt of suicide I cross the motorway to reach the office. The guys need my car papers which I left in the car. I don’t really want to go there and back one more time so they tell me just to go – no problem. About an hour later I become tired and stop at a motorway car park at a hillside 160km before Adana. Elevation is 300m – sea side is calling!

Some nice pictures of today will be uploaded as soon as I get free wifi – with the Austrian sim this would be too expensive.

Orumiyeh – Kannca

11.4.2013

Km counter: 41640 today: 419 sum: 6522

N37°33’59” E045°03’40” – N38°17’37” E041°59’43” – google doesnt allow to cross sero border so its the more south route of what you see at that link.

Early in the morning somebody is knocking at the window again. I block whatever and he asks me to move a little. Its cold anyway so I move to the sun and sleep another hour. Last night it started to smell like petrol inside because the waste water tank is connected to the inside by tubes of course. I blocked them but obviously not enough. At night I blocked the sink with a candle and some wax so the smell is gone by now. I just but toothpaste and brush in the sink to cover the candle – looks fine to me, even if they really search me they wont look below the toothbrush I guess. I clean all the car and then make a walk to the money changer. I don’t find anyone who wants to change euro – they all want dollars! Its crazy, but they don’t want tourist euro, they prefer terrorist dollar! However I meet Mr. Hossein about whom I had read already in a blog. He helps me to find a place to change my cash to Lira and then I show him suryananda. When he leaves he tells me there will be no problems at the border but that I am not allowed to take more petrol than in the original tank…. Well…

I leave Orumiyeh around ten o clock and less than an hour later I am at the border. I stopped five km before at the petrol station so I am carrying a total of nearly 130l in the original tank, the waste water tank and the spare tanks in the back… Iranian side is quickly. They stamp carnet and passport and then I drive to the gate. Even before I cross the line I already see the looks of the customs officers. I cross the line and they direct me directly to a hall to examine me and suryananda closer. Damn! Its like always two guys – a nice one and a bad one. I don’t care and try to be friendly to both of them.

They look inside the doors, inside the upper closets and all the obvious places everybody looks. The “bad guy” tells me that he believes that I smoke hashish. I tell him I don’t take any drugs and that believing without prove is a bad thing. We had a discussion about religion when he was checking my books so I tell him that first people start to believe (like I have hashish) then their believing becomes obsession (like searching my car for drugs for an hour without finding anything to prove I consume such) and they lose their view for the real things (like 60 fucking liter of petrol!). And I tell him to get dogs or an x ray of my car. He doesn’t believe but he says they have neither at the moment. The good guy is pleased after 45 minutes but the bad guy doesn’t believe that I have nothing on me and keeps searching. After half an hour more (in which he stopped being the bad guy – its hard to keep that up when searching suryananda finding mostly instruments, massage stuff, yoga and religious books like Koran, bhagavad gita…) he gives up too and I go to get my visa.

Again this takes time and while I am sitting with a police officer filling the forms the “bad guy” appears again telling me they want to check us again. Now they will find the petrol, I think, I am fucked! Again I drive suryananda into the hall and now more customs officers appear and search. They are too sure I have something – they believe to KNOW it. Now there is not only 4 guys in uniform who are searching me but two more with suits and ties who are just standing around doing nothing probably waiting for the press to come to take pictures of them with the tons of dope they believe I have.

The good guy from before is not here anymore. They search again the same half of the car they had already searched before, with the same result of course. They start to like me in a way and take pictures of me and suryananda even though it is obvious we will never be friends. But I don’t have nothing of what they are searching for so what to do? At the end we all smile at each other and shake hands when saying goodbye. Some of them even tell me they are sorry for searching (but “its my job” – so learn something decent, idiot!, I think).

After nearly three hours searching now they tell me they believe me – there is nothing! I have difficulties to keep calm at that moment. I kept calm and friendly the last three hours playing that stupid game but know as I have won I star shaking a little. The “bad guy” looks at me and asks if I need insulin so I agree. He wants to watch me injecting as he has never seen this before…. Nevermind. Finally I proceed to the gate to turkey where the officer refuses to let me in because suryananda is not marked in my passport! DAMN! Back again! I take all the papers I need and go back to the customs office. Its totally different guys so I don’t see any of the ones who where there for searching me again. The officer tells me there is a problem blablabla. I don’t get it! He tells me that suryananda seems to be still in turkey! I remember them having a computer problem when I left turkey so probably the information about us leaving got lost. I am already afraid about the same thing like at the Indian border but then an old guy in a “Narkotiks” jacket shows up and helps me solving the problem within ten minutes. He is probably the one who is responsible for the long search as the “bad guy” told me several times that it was for sure not his idea to search me again. 20 minutes later I am on the road to Baskale.

Soon its getting dark. I buy 20l more petrol from a smuggler so I have enough petrol for three days at least. 150km further than Adana. We climb up the highest mountain pass of our journey at 2770 when its dark already. Going down I take a chai at a place I stood a night last time. Even though it’s a tiny village I see nobody I know and nobody seems to remember me.

Kurdistan is similar to Baluchistan only I have no escort here so the police treats me more or less like a terrorist. I am stopped five more times tonight with them sometimes being polite (police) and sometimes just jumping inside suryananda and making a mess and shouting at me (military). In Iran I would shout back at them and fuck them, they have another understanding of hospitality there. But here it is different – not that turks (military and police is not the kurds) are not hospitable but here they are under high tension. Like in Balochistan the police here has forts with tanks, machine gun towers and km of barbed wire around the forts. Traffic controls are made by at least 6 officers 4 of them having kalaschnikovs – in the villages there are watchtowers with machine guns pointed out at the people who live there! By the police! And if they do exist I believe they have been used in the past and might be used in future. The police here does not feel like police like I know it – It appears much more like they are invaders controlling a foreign country. Same story like in Baluchistan. (And to be honest – road condition is same like in Baluchistan too, but like in the Pakistan part of Baluchistan) At one point my sd card is full and I stop for a moment to move the pictures to the computer. Just to recognize at one of the searches they broke the screen of the computer. I am pissed now – this might be the end of the blog, the end of the pictures… I decide to go to Adana as fast as possible and try to fix it there before I give up. After the fifth police check I give up driving tonight and stop at the next petrol station car park. It’s a nice place in the mountains and I fall asleep within seconds. It was an exhausting day!

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 maps.google.com 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”

Elevation:1971m

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vz-P6_C_UE

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

–> http://g.co/maps/4jdec

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…..