Week 13 – In the Desert

Directly to the photos

Day 90, 16.5, Saturday

After the weekend was used for my relaxation, I started excitedly my desert tour on Saturday morning (Route: ).
The idea was significantly influenced by Frisco who would fly back to Sardinia after this week of holidays. I wanted to meet with him in Garmeh, a little oasis village. My plan was to hitchhike on Saturday to Naein and to spend the night there.
From Tehran I did auto-stop till Qom and then Ali Reza and his son gave me a lift in their truck till Naein and invited me to participate at their lunch picnic.
I arrived in Naein before sunset, that’s why I decided trying to continue to Garmeh respectively Khoor. While waling through Naein I bought some bread and was taken to Anarak. Meanwhile it became dark, but as I was walking along the road a truck driver stopped and took me till Khoor, where I arrived at 11.30pm. First I walked for a while in direction to Garmeh under the breathtaking starry sky and eventually I got a ride with some students to Garmeh. They couldn’t believe or understand that I wanted to camp outside the village: Someone would come and kill me, camels would trample me to death or what would I do when a snake came? So they told me I had to sleep in a little praying room. After they went away of course I went out of the village and pitched my tent behind a little hill, hidden from the road.

Days 91-92, 17.5-18.5, Sunday-Monday

The next morning I met Frisco and we strolled through and around the village. We went to a water spring, that supplies the field around with water and maybe even Garmeh. In the spring were many Cleaner fishes, that soon were occupied with my feet.
For lunch I joined Frisco in his hostel although it was quite expensive, but ok. Then we went for a walk to another village in the vicinity. This village was kind of hard to find and not very beautiful. But in contrary the way to there and the landscape was amazing. During dusk we were back to Garmeh. While Frisco ate dinner, I built up my tent at the water spring and lit a bonfire. Initially we and some other guests of the hostel wanted to go to a café in, but it was closed. So we went to my place and sat around the fire talking until midnight. Two times shady people came near, but when I went sleeping they didn’t return any more – or at least I didn’t notice.
The next day started in a relaxed way. I got up late and at noon Frisco and I hitchhiked to Khoor. There we ate lunch and at 4pm I started alone towards Tabas. Again, the first vehicle, of course a truck, gave me a ride. This road is acutally the main connection between Esfahan and Mashhad that’s why there are always vehicles passing by – at every time of the day.
In Tabas I wanted to see the Shah Abbasi Dam. It was 20km from the place where I was dropped off and it started to get dark. Thus I found an old cistern a bit offside the town to be a nice place for the night.

Day 93, 19.5, Tuesday

I got up quite early and a teacher drove me to the starting point of the way to the dam. There I saw a German Volkswagen car, but it’s passengers were still asleep. To get to the dam, I had to walk for about 40 minutes along a little creek through some stunning canyons.
The water was (unfortunately) surprisingly warm and the creek not really deep. After 20 minutes I decided to get rid of my backpack – since it was Tuesday morning 8.30am, who should steal it. Later the water got deeper and I couldn’t walk around it, so I turned my trousers into shorts and hence violated the dress code of the Islamic Republic.
Then suddenly the dam appeared behind a 2 meter kind of stone wall and it was an impressive construction.
When I returned I obviously met the two Germans. They went to India and were on their way back again. They gave me a lift to Tabas, from where I wanted to go northbound and then westbound again, taking a the little road 36 along the desert and through a national park.
Unfortunately at the cross roads there was a police check point. It wouldn’t have been bad, if the few cars going in my direction had given me a ride. But maybe they were intimidated by the police presence, anyway the only thing they did was staring.
The check point was just a little area with a small building directly on the street, another in the middle of the area and a caravan. In the building on the street a young police officer and a soldier were sitting. After about one hour they whistled in my direction as I was a dog, so I waited until they came to me. They were very bored, I could see it and the police officer asked for my passport. I wanted to know why, but he just pointed his shirt with a sticker saying “POLICE”. I didn’t have any other chance than handing him my passport in, but from that time on I refused to speak Farsi, but only English.
Two and a half hours later I got it back. In the meantime he called his boss, another traffic police arrived and they randomly checked trucks confronting them with fake violations just to get bribe. The officer in charge was a disgusting dickhead, sorry but it’s the truth. In general the officers acted very arrogant and rude. At same time a Danish couple passed the crossroads and of course they were stopped and asked for their passport, too. After their passports were checked, I got mine back and could continue; but it was already very late. I needn’t pay any bribe by the way but wouldn’t have done it in any case.
I had to change my planned route and instead of the small road I had to take the highway further north. A trucked stopped by the police had to take me to the next town (Bardaskan). There the driver stopped for gas and I decided to spend the night next to the mosque of the resting area – which is allowed – and before sleeping read a bit.

Day 94, 20.5, Wednesday

I wanted to hithchike to Semnan, where I wanted to couchsurf. Initially I planed to arrive the day before, but obviously that was history. From Bardaskan I went to Sabzevar, where I was picked up by a truck driver who thought I was Turkish. At first he drove really fast, but later only 40 km/h. That’s why having a guilty conscience I told him I had to leave when I made his lunch break at 3pm. I didn’t want to arrive at the end of the day again, kind of wasting another day – of course this is hitchhiking and it happens, but I wanted at least to try to get there faster. And it was the right decision, since 2.5h later I arrived in Semnan. But 25km before I thought it would be later, since a rear wheel exploded. Fortunately the car had a spare tire, so we could continue after 15 minutes.
My couchsurfing hosts were a young Iranian couple, who was of course very nice. The husband, E., picked me up but didn’t speak English, so I spoke Farsi with him. His wife, A., spoke English and both attended some German classes. It was nice to speak English again after a few days.
Since the drivers only spoke Farsi, I didn’t have another option, but adapt. I hope it helped, because the topics were always the same.

Days 95-96, 21.5-22.5, Thursday-Friday

On Thursday E. and A. went to Tehran and took me with them. The rest of the weekend I relaxed and did nothing.

Week 11

Day 75, 2.5, Saturday

That day was a national holiday, so I needn’t go to school. But I was lazy. With Zhihui and her room-mate Feyza I went to a coffee shop.
In addition at the moment there is an huge amount of mosquitoes in Tehran. Although the air is very dry and there aren’t really any lentic waters, these spawns of hell reproduce very fast. In contrary to Iranian people – no offence – they are very agile, fast and seem to know seconds before that one is about to try to hit them; plus their thirst for blood cannot be allayed.
Either way I can’t even hide in my sleeping bag because they still find some gap in it. So on morning I woke up with one of my arms covered with bites. Fortunately they don’t itch.

Days 76-79, 3.5-5.5, Sunday-Tuesday

It was a normal school week again and the teacher told me several times how bad my Farsi skills for a German were. What she didn’t acknowledge, 90% of the other Germans come to Iran during their study so already had Farsi in Germany. Me instead, as well as Tobias, started from zero and are as bad as other nationals.
On Monday we went to the Iranian version of the French supermarket company Carrefour (Hyperstar). Yang told of it and we needed a couple of things. The supermarket was really like normal western ones – without the alcohol section of course and at a certain time I was asked to stop taking photos.

Days 80-82, 6.5-8.5, Wednesday-Friday

The weekend came near and initially I. wanted to come to Tehran for the book fair. But it didn’t happen. I had to flee out of Tehran and with the help of the satellite view of Google Maps I chose a valley in the north-east of Tehran. After class I went to Kalugan by metro, bus, on foot and 25km by hitchhiking. Having arrived in the village I hiked until dusk until I found a kind of appropriate place for my tent. But since I was in the mountains I couldn’t pitch it probably and was lucky that it didn’t rain that night. Apart from some different inconveniences I enjoyed being in a safety distance from the 14 million people hell.

On Thursday morning I packed everything again and went back to Tehran. A bit sad I spent the evening with Frisco, Yang and another student of Dehkhoda in a coffee shop. Later an Iranian girl and Zhihui joined.

On Friday on 10am I went to worship in the German Protestant Church of Tehran (). It was my first time and I liked it a lot. About 12 other people were there and after the worshop I stayed there for tea and talking until noon.
When I came back to Enghelab, Iranians just gathered at the entrance of the University of Tehran for Friday praying. The main street was closed and you could see some “Death to Israel/USA” again.

Week 8 – Hitchhiking in Iran – Part 1/1

Days 54-58, 11.4-15.4, Saturday till Wednesday

It was a normal week with school, appointments and being talked to on the metro. On day I went running in Laleh Park and I finally picked up all my things that were still in Velenjak.
For the weekend I initially wanted to go to Ardebil, because the weekend was supposed to be one day longer because of an organized trip by the school. But this trip was cancelled so I arranged a meeting with I. in Kashan. She recommended me to visit Abyaneh, a village in the mountains, as well. So I decided to make this trip my first hitchhiking experience in Iran. On Thursday I’d hitchhike to Abyaneh, spend the night in my tent and hitchhike to Kashan to visit the town with I.
To the photos

Day 59, 16.4, Thursday

Of course I started my little journey early in the morning and took only 800g of dates as food with me and 2l of water. At a quarter past 9am my hitchhiking experiment in Iran finally started. I presented the drivers my کاشان (Kashan) sign. Only minutes passed until I got a ride to Qom. Though before at least one car stopped but asked for money, because in Iran hitchhiking is not know. Only few people are aware of this kind of travelling. That’s why I always asked if it was ok, that I enter without money – three times, because otherwise they could just have been polite.
The first driver was from Tehran on the way to Arak. He left me near Qom not without taking photos on which he posed ridiculously and asked for my number. Fortunately just the day before I found a second SIM card, so I didn’t bother giving him my “new” number.
In Qom I had to wait a bit longer. First I stood next of a construction site, where people were working. The workers didn’t know what I was doing.
*”I’m hitchhiking, doing auto-stop.”
#”You want to go to Kashan by (auto)bus?”
*”No, by car.”
#”Ah, you will take a taxi.”
*”No, without money, but with cars. It’s not a problem. It’s called auto-stop.”
#”So by bus?”
It was very annoying. My mouth became dry from hundreds of times saying “It’s not a problem.” (moshkele nist) and at certain time I instead said “Khoshgele nist”, which means “He/She is not beautiful”. It made the workers even more confused. After half an hour, only people asking money had stopped, I went 200m further where I wasn’t disturbed any more. Not only five minutes later an old guy with a younger one the other front seat stopped; they were going to Kashan.
During the ride they drank tea, offered me some as well and the old man even knew Austria where I said to be from.
In Kashan (on my sign was written Abyaneh/Natanz) a car with three old ladies stopped, but they just told me they were going to Kashan. Although it was obviously not on my way one wanted to convince me to come with them. After 10 minutes a factory owner from Esfahan stopped. He made a detour to Abyaneh and even invited me for lunch there. After not even five hours, I arrived in Abyaneh. Of course I asked him at least three times if he really wanted me to invite and make the detour. So I didn’t care when he kind of regretted his decision having made this offer. The lunch was expensive for Iranian standards (7EUR) and he had to pay an entrance fee of 1,40EUR prior of driving into Abyaneh.
At least I could walk with new energy through Abyaneh, which was unluckyly full of teenage girls chatting very loud. I pittied the inhabitants, since the village was full of tourists who had the chance of posing in traditional dresses. Away from the tiny main road, it was still quite rural. Old women were chatting, a shepherd took care of his sheep between some houses and I was greeted friendly. Contrary to the girls nearly killed each other for a photo with me.
At 5pm I walked away to search for a place for pitching my tent. Some hundred metres off the road was a little stream that supplied green gardens with apple trees with water. Abreast the next village I found an appropriate place for my tent and laying in my sleeping bag could listen to the raindrops. The air was so clear and it was very awesome – like during my travels in summer.
To the photos of Abyaneh

Day 60, 17.4, Friday

At 6.30am I got up, the tent was dry again and the sun shone of sleepy village of Tareh. At 8am I started walking towards Kashan, the same time when I. took the bus from Esfahan. After one hour of walking, the second car passing gave me a lift to Kashan, where I. and I met half past 10am. On the way we passed the reprocessing plant of Natanz that was guarded by many anti-aircraft guns in the area.
When I. arrived when went into the city. I had forgotten my student’s ID so always should have paid the tourist price which is 10 times more. But the opposite happened. I told every cashier that I forgot my ID. In the end I could enter the Fin Garden without paying anything and in the next two museums I. could enter for free while I paid the reduced price.
Since it was Friday Kashan wasn’t busy at all. The bazaar was empty and the whole atmosphere was relaxed. We spent a great day and having spent the weekend like this, was a perfect idea.
At 6pm we drove back to Esfahan respectively Tehran.
To the photos of Kashan

During the week

Photos of Abyaneh

Photos of Kashan