Wednesday, 20 August 2008

I am McGreggor!

And we have been having "McGreggor" moments in Iran. It is so funny. Graham, Andy and me are being treated like stars. Whenever we stop people flood around us and ask to take photos with us. Or holding their children so we have decided to see how long we can call ourselves Ewan (me because of the beard apparently), Charlie (Andy because someone has to) and Claudio (Graham because he didn't want to be Charlie) before someone calls us out on it!

All joking aside everyone here is so friendly. Even at the border crossing we were treated very well. The western media has Iran all wrong. As you know I really don't have an opinion on politics and I wouldn't talk about it here if I did. The people here have shown us nothing but goodwill.

Our first night in Iran we were looking for a place to camp near a lake next to Orumiyeh but it turns out the lake had dried up so we eventually stopped at the side of the road next to a fishing "cabin". There was a guy there who spoke good English who told us we could stay in the cabin that night if we wanted. We were served plenty of tea and a dinner of fried fish (uh oh) and watched a Turkish copy of the Transporter. There was a family there who invited us to stay with them the next night in Urmia. Spent the night chatting through our translator and taking lots of photos.

Second day we went to Mahabad which has an underground cave/lake complex. Here we met an English speaking tour guide, Ali, he invited us to stay with his family. Turned out to be an incredibly weird night. We watched a video of his wedding. No one smiled in it and his wife, also his cousin, looked very unhappy. They live with his mum, dad and sister in the same house and he got his mum to clean my dirty boxers... by hand..! Turns out he wanted us to pay for the night. $15 each. He was a nice guy but that was more expensive than a hotel and not really in the same spirit as we have found elsewhere in Iran. They did clean my boxers though which I guess is worth at least $5.

The drivers here are insane. At one point I was stuck behind a lorry with a taxi overtaking me on the left and a van undertaking me on the right. I was pinned in good and proper. They just have no fear of anything and will happily sit in the lane for oncoming traffic while they take photos of us forcing the oncoming cars to swerve out of the way or they will swerve into us. All very exciting. The roads are very good. No potholes and the tarmac has plenty of grip.

Last night (19th) we stayed camped near an Iranian version of Cappadocia. We met an Iranian family there and the daughter could speak English. Spent the night with the whole family. The father, Jelly (not his real name), used to drive trucks for an American oil company so could also speak English. The younger women wore normal clothes with a headscarf and were completely free to talk to us. It was not like you imagine. They were happy for us to take photos of them. In the city it seems to be a bit more conservative but in general the view I had of Iran and of the culture here has been completely turned on its head.

I am supposed to be meeting a mixed group in Tehran who I met on couch surfing and they are going to take me to a "club" and show me around the city. Will try to stay away from government buildings of course.

In Tabriz (tabreeze) now for 2 days in a hotel. We have parked the bikes inside the hotel so they are nice and safe. Going to get some more spares for the bike and carry out a big service as it is unlikely I will find anywhere to do it between here and Islamabad. The bike is running very well and is a low wearing engine so I don't doubt it will be fine with or without the service but better safe than sorry. The bike garage we found here is also a motorcycle club and they seem very proud to have us at there garage. They cant do enough for us. Sorting out Andy with the hospital, finding us a hotel and offering all kinds of work and parts for the bike.

Heading to Tehran on Friday for my Pakistan visa. I will probably upload some photos then too as the internet connection here is painfully slow! For now though you can check out these from Cardiff to Cappadocia


fanboy said...

Hey Oli!

I'm glad you posted I've been wondering how you are doing! Seems like you are having an amazing time.

I'm still working, broken my previous record of 10 weeks! Looks like I'm there to stay.

Enjoying the food? Are you a fish lover yet?

Keep it up and keep posting, I check it every day. Missing you here! Upload some pics if you get a chance. Stay cool!


Anonymous said...

Check it every day huh? Bored in work then! Glad you have found a job you like. If you quit wait until I get back and I will take your position! I think the job at Hafod is still open. lol.

In Tehran now. It is incredibly hot here. My shirt was literally drenched in sweat when I finally found a place to stay. Was asking a motorcycle taxi for directions to a hotel and someone heard me speaking english and invited me into their home. You would never get that in the UK. People here are so friendly and so helpful. Really nice house too!

I split from Graham and Andy to come to Tehran as they didnt want to go. I dont blame them, the traffic is insane. I almost got blindsided 3 times within half an hour.

Good to hear your doing ok. I will give ya a call tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Hi Oli. Great to hear from you and glad everything is going well in Iran.....I'm still holding my breath though. Are you meeting up with Graham and Andy again?

We are in Budapest at the moment for a long weekend. It's great here and the weather has been very kind to us except for one night when we thought we were back in UK! By the way,I've spent the forints I found in your room!!! I thought it was a lot of money till we got here, should have known better I guess. We get back on Wednesday 26th. We've had a quick trawl through your photos. Very good. Remember Pete!? He sends his best wishes. Take good care of yourself my darling boy. Hope to hear some more from you soon. Love you loads Mum XXX

ps - think we've worked out who your lovely lady is!

Unknown said...

Yes mum I am meeting up with Graham and Andy again dont worry!

Was in the british embassy today, the one you said didnt exist, they advised me not to go to Pakistan again but still gave me the stuff I needed!

Should be meeting up with the guys again on Saturday but maybe sooner. Not sure yet!

Anonymous said...

Well, take advice honey. See what the other guys are planning. Things are hotting up there.

We're back from the date wrong! the weather is still grim here. Aunty Babs and I are off to Cyprus in a week or so. We will be nearer to you then. Maybe you'd like to come to visit us??? Okay, maybe not! We might just be tempted to kidnap you and smuggle you home in our baggage!

Hope everything is okay with you. Thinking of you. Love and hugs