We were told by Philip the German cycle tourer that there were two passes en route to Dogubayzit. It was real hard work cycling against a strong Easterly wind.
Twice we were chased by Bunyanesque hounds which were every bit as big and scary as the tourer I met in Romania had warned. These things would knock you flat. I had encountered one for the first time in West Turkey but had got rid of it by squirting water in its face, and its owner called it back as it approached. This time the water squirting was not an option as someone stole my water bottles back in Istanbul, so the best we could do was just yell at them and keep pedalling. It’s pretty disconcerting.
Matze managed to skitch a ride two or three times up a hill for which I take my hat off to him. With two stuffed front 20l panniers, a handlebar bag, and water on the front on the front rack, I dare not do it as it would most likely be too difficult to keep stability.
One night were invited to eat in a restaurant for free. We had a very strange run in with a slightly pissed-up factory/workshop owner who had a gun which I would love to describe to you in detail but I aint got the time.
Last night we slept in a petrol station. We asked the owner if he minded us cooking with a naked flame and he said no problem. And so we did with the now slightly leaky Primus cooker right next to what looked like the entrance to the underground fuel tanks. This morning we could just about make out one mother of a land mass in the distance. Yes Ararat was finally in view. Climbing it though is out of the question unless we wanna cough up 150€ or thereabouts. The idea of sneaking in at the bottom is out the question as the base is a military zone. About 4 times now we have been asked to move on from various military posts. One where we were 200metres away from it, a guy got in a car drove down got out and asked ‘Problem?’. Tin of tuna in hand I said ‘No problem. Hungry’, and pointed to my stomach. He motioned for us to move on so we did, 150 metres just around the corner and carried on eating… I’ve found out about a volcano just North of Tehran which is a half click higher than Ararat, and free to climb. We’ll see if it’s doable..
The kids here all say ‘ Hello hello. What’s your name? Where are you from?’…swiftly followed not more than 10 seconds later by ‘money money!’. I reckon they would have a much better success rate if they said ‘money please’. Where ‘money money’ comes from I don’t know. Here in Dogubayzit there are kids on the street selling tissues, offering to clean your boots, and even selling cigarettes. There’s no outsmarting them. If you try turning things back around on them for example asking ‘What’s your name?’ before they get the chance, they just reply and ask you your name back instantly followed by ‘Money money!’. ‘Tissues?’ ‘No thank you’ ‘No, Yes, 1 Lira, money money’, ‘No money’, ‘Yes money’, ‘No’ ‘Yes, no, money, money!’. Could be the way for many months to come…
So tomorrow we enter Iran. Up until only earlier this morning, to say I was a touch apprehensive wouldn’t have been an unfair statement. This morning though just 20km outside of Dogubayzit we met an English cycle tourer from the Lake district on his way from Australia to UK. He had nothing but praise to say about Iran and that he was jealous that we would now be experiencing it, and he no longer. He also answered all the questions I wanted answering and generally filled me with confidence. So the 9 squid Soccer World Karrimor cycling shorts are a no no, and it’s best to wear a long sleeve shirt at the border crossing. I was ready to switch nationalities to French for the month (although I’ve no idea where Franco-Iranian politics stand), but that no longer seems necessary. And so it continues Eastwards…One cycle tourer from the Promised Land, one from the Heimatland…
It’s probably best to delete the Tor enabled browser and anything else that could make me look like a spy. This could be my last update for a while because I’ve heard the internet is highly restricted in Iran. Tonıght ıt’s tıme to squeeze in a last few beers before the enforced teetotalısm of the next month. There’s lots more I’d like to write about but I just don’t have the time right now, the guy has turned the lıghts off ın the ınternet cafe and says he needs to go to bed! Its 2330 so faır enough. We hope to be in Tehran in two weeks time or thereabouts so I’ll do my best to do a quick update then if possible.