Agri – Horosan (100km)

Day 110: Agri – Horosan (100km) – Distance travelled so far 6,236 km “Snow is falling..”


Met these Turkish guys on route this morning…


Sean Connery speaks candidly to us about his acting days and being James Bond


Leaving Agri


Mike’s Blog


I’d say there is a lovely fire in there…Lucky feckers!!!


Braving the elements in Eastern Turkey….Topping a big ascent


Pink Legs…No problem!!!


Brian complete with plastic-bag handwarmers* (patent pending) pausing for a quick pic


“My hands are going to fall off!!!”…Mike doin anything to warm his digits up

Thaireland’s rough guide to warrming up your hands in cold weather -

1) Stick the hands inside your jumper and wrap them blue suckers around your back

2) Take the offending numb-ridden extensions and place them gently on your butt cheaks (looks weird though!!)

3) Shake the purple extremeties violently up and down, blowing on them at 30 sec intervals…

4) Dont go outside..Staying indoors, preferably with a fire works extremely well


Oh so cold!!!!!!


…..from snow and ice to this…so changeable


At this point we had descended about 500-800 meters out of the snow….with more descents to come

 

Maku to Doy (67km)

Day 108: Maku to Doy (67km) – Distance travelled so far 6,038km “Finally in Turkey..and closer to home..”

Onwards to the Border we go….Bazargan here we come!!!!!!!!!!! and roll on Turkey!!!!!!!


Dark roads to the Turkish border…


Getting out of Bazargan….


Safe Driving – (You like that one Mr Chips dont you!!!!)


But see if you can get this one?? Answers to Thaireland@gmail.com or the Guestbook


15km to Turkey…Get in!!!!!!!


Alas…The Bazargan Border…and initial sights of Turkey….”Looks hilly!!’


A steep ascent to the Border….Damn it to hell…


Closer..closer….We see a Turkish flag


Passports Please?


Yes…Definitely Turkey….

With a quick visa grap (10 euro) at the Border, we celebrate quickly before setting off once again for another brand new country….It has taken over 3 hard months but we really feel that the journey is now becoming increasinlgy less gruesome/grueling on us. We feel that we have completed the hardest part so to speak..viz a viz, the India’s, and Pakistans of this world….

We can only take more positives going forward, for example, the food is better (albeit Kebabs!!!) for a start. The grasp of the English language is far greater too and coupled with the 2hr time difference, we are brimming full of positives. There is also the matter of supermarkets (Carrefour’s/Tesco), designated camping zones/sites and better access to communications (card phones/wi-fi hotspots).


Thaireland – Turkey – Thank God


Give me joy in my heart, keep me singing!!!


Brian wishes he had tracks!!!!

Day 109: -Dogubayazit – Agri (97km) – Distance travelled so far 6,136km “Rain rain go away..”

First impressions of Turkey -

We got a hostile reception yesterday. Mike got spit upon. Brian and Paul got heckled and jeered at. Somebody also crashed their motorbike into the back of Mike’s bicycle. They called us “tourist” alot… ie, “Hello Tourist!!” and asked for money quite a bit….

Turkey is also damn cold and the roads are not a patch on Iran’s super-highways….It also appears from our map, that Turkish roads are far from plain sailing. Mountains dotting our very route up to Samsun on the black sea, peak (these puns are notorious!!) to 2,500 meters. Flashbacks of Laos creeping into our brains!!!!!!


Mike soaking it all up..

The next series of pics will give you an indication of the terrain we face in Turkey. Think 30-50 km of this at a time….It is testing to say to the least!!!!!!!!


Wet and cold but still peddaling


The Tarmac roads are very course (prob due to the harsh climate) and extremely patchy in places


Low cloud cover…and the threat of hale,rain and snow pretty much constant


Hale stone central


Passing quaint little houses like this is common

 

Khoy & Qareh Ziya’-eddin – Maku (83km)

Day 107: Khoy & Qareh Ziya’-eddin – Maku (83km) – Distance travelled so far 5,971km “The Re-Union”

With Paul still MIA, Brian and Mike headed onwards to the Border towns of Maku and Bazargan. With both parties knowing exactly where they were heading, it was just a matter of what time they would meet up today…..


Early Morning Meeting 

Steep ascents out of the village….weather very changeable today…


An Iranian graveyard


Rock n’ Roll


Never too good when you see this little road sign….Tyre Chains = hills and snow….Aghhhhh!!!


“I’ve got me a brand new combine-harvester”


Miami Vice(esque) this one….


Brians dashboard – Check out those cold hands…


Mike sporting his new Poncho….(which also doubles up as a tent!!)


Loving this rain lark


Pickin up speed…..


and there is the odd downhill too….Yeah!!!!!!


An exquisite example of river erosion…..Don’t rush for those Geography books all at once!!!

With a four-fold mixture of corrosion (or abrasion), attrition, solution and of course least we forget hydraulic action, the river eroded this over thousands of years…


Nearing the border…… A Turkish Political statement perhaps??

 


Reaching Maku (25km from the broder)..Time to call it a night

Tough day for all. Paul completed close on 120km, so we decided to turn in for the night. Turkey beckons our names in the morning, so we might as well be well rested for it……


Brians Trucker…Badass and as dirty as hell!!!


Soaking wet….Very tough cycling conditions today


Fresh bakers bread….Yummy!!!!!…..No shortage of bread in Iran..Hope Turkey is the same…


Dinner Time – Hot and really really cheap bread..Delicious!!!!


Back at the Hostel – The ceiling paint which fell down on Mikes Bed…Haaa Haaa!!!

 

Marand – Khoy & Qareh Ziya’-eddin (102km)

 Day 106: Marand – Khoy & Qareh Ziya’-eddin (102km) – Distance travelled so far 5888km “The Departed”


Departing Marand


Frosty Morning….Yeah…..go on you can say it….. We are pretty tough men!!


www.dangerhere.com – Iranian drivers are pretty inconsiderate to us cyclists

From opening drivers doors without the faintest of looks to blatently pulling out in front of us, we have seen it all right before our eyes on these Iranian roads. The concept of wingmirror and rearview aids have not really caught on here at all…Unscathed, we proceed as steely as ever towards Turkey.


A Winter wonderland


Herding the animals down from the snowy hills


A common utility vehicle in these parts… These guys always always cheer us on and wave…


Freezing cold and nothing but an endless array of straight roads in our path…Burrrrr!!!!!


Self Potrait from Brian…Paul and Mike taking up the rear


Layered up to beat the harsh elements…


Yes we are still in Iran – Disputed Territory…touchy subject in these parts


Puncture time…Luckily the sun is out….


Can you spot the face in the mountain


The spirits are high, the hills even higher!


Brian and Mike’s video diary

Northern Iran is teaming with alll sorts of cool flora and fauna. You just got to be fairly observant and seize a good picture oppurtunity when you can…Check out some from Mike today….


Very hard to get a pic of these guys.An Iranian eagle


These hundred year old settlements bend/stagger into the Iranian hills


A bunch of caterpillers near the roadside


Mother and father work while the young lads play..


Look very closely at the two towers either side of The Mosque


Clever gal – Perched well out of harms way…


Centre monument of the town.Another fine home for this bird


Below Mike and Brians accommodation for the night.Jalil’s tea house


Locals glued to the tv,watching their favourite show.


Morning tea anyone


Jalil.A great host and makes a fine cup of tea

The end of Paul’s Day and Night

Ok, At this point. Paul was wondering where in the hell Mike and Brian went. He waited and waited, leaving some crude chalk markings on the road i.e. (Paul ere, 2:25pm – gone ahead). When he reached the cross-roads going to Khoy and Bazargan, he decided to wait another 30 mins. Once this elapsed, he gave the Police (at that inter-section) a note to give to the boys when they arrived saying “I went down into Khoy’ (a town about 15km away). He cycled into Khoy to look for some accomodation for the night…


A donkey looking pretty forlorn…(Do all donkeys look sad?)…


Little Rascals – These youngsters ran over when I stopped for a quick breather…


Tillage (incl clever irrigation) in Iran…Pictured with farmer sowing crops


There is always a focal piece (such as this one) when entering any Iranian town or city…


Watermelons galore….Iran is full of this type of fruit…Delicious too!!!!


Dont look any further Paulo….Im your Iranian Uncle Mohammad….

When Paul entered Khoy (minus Brian and Mike), he decided to search for lodgings…His luck took a serious meander for the better when he bumped into a chemical engineer named Mohammad Fayazi. He sorted him out with a class double room in the cosy (He actually gave him 100 Iranian rials in cash….about 7.35€)…..Hotel Amir. What a gesture right towards the end of what has been an incredible tour in Iran….Thanks again Mohammad….Keep in touch..


Barber Shop – Fancy a chop?

Whilst in Khoy, Paul passed a nifty little barber shop and was invited in for some tea, bread and cheese….While there, he seriously pondered whether or not to shed some of his wigage….Decisions….decisions!!!!!!!!!


Members from The Khoy Barber Shop Quartet……”The Misfits” Ha ha!!!!

To cut a long story short (you get it!!!…quality pun(s) in that!!!), he got a free beard and hair trim….and headed back to my free hotel bedroom for the night. Not a bad days work at all. Still no sight of the Brian and Mike though….Pretty sure they are fine…Ok…Hopefully there’s Champions League in this gaff!!!!


Lord Paul Anthony John Ryan’s free living quarters in Khoy….Cosytown….

Tabriz – Marand (77km)

Day 105: Tabriz – Marand (77km) – Distance travelled so far 5786km “Final days in Iran”

We spent some quality time in Tabriz, meeting some pretty cool and helpful people along the way….


A bag full of honey nut puffs, Paul devoured these for breaky!.


This vaulted Bazaar contained hundreds of gold dealing shops


You want gold? - It was a beautiful building. It was just a pity about its tacky interior!!!!


This has to be the smallest shoe shop in the world!!!!

We left Tabriz knowing that in approx 300km we would be landing in Turkey. Not bad for about 3 and a half months on the road….Check out the vid and enjoy some of the pics we took today….


Leavin Tabriz…early morning vid


Visions of the bridge in Killaloe for a minute there!!!


Business as usual for Mike


Free tea was had at this roadside autoparts shop


Thaireland Charity Cycle 2009


It started to snow at this stage – Mike feeling the chill factor


Brian getting into the thick of it


Met Office Vid

Gaming shop in Marand….popular amoungst the Iranian bhoys..


Brothers and snowflakes in Marand…..just beautiful that!!

We decided to test out Mike’s new hat….

Zanjan – Miyameh (128km)

 Day 102: Zanjan – Miyameh (128km) – Distance travelled so far 5709km “Robert De Niro”


Heading out of Zanjan…Police intruiged by our bikes…


Farming is more intensive in northern Iran…


The roads are always the same….flat and straight for miles on end….


Self potrait


You could stick a fine hurling pitch in that!!!!


We cycled parallel to this railway line for most of the day


Choo Choo….It’s The Orange Blossom Special….


Good ould Rusty….


A collapsed bridge 25km from Miyameh..


Pretty class feature right at the edge too!!!


Paul entering the abyss (well….. just a road tunnel!!)


….and out again….(Paul listening to coffee break Spanish today)


Lots of these type of settlements along the way….


Bessie…..thinks that being all alone in this fresh pasture must be somebody’s form of a sick joke!!!….


Roads are carved through the likes of this rock all the way along….


Entering Miyameh….Patriotism all the way


Show us a ray of light…..(We need to find lodgings for the night)


Enter our very own Robert De Niro….(aka Meidi)….”The Fixer”


too good to be true…..

Meidi not only sorted us out in the local sports complex (complete with tv and hot showers), but arrranged for us to have dinner (albeit kebabs) at 8pm….What a man!!!!…..So with a whole sports complex to ourselves and full stomachs, we hit the scratcher knowing that a push off 130km or so would take us into Tabriz (last big city in Iran before the Turkish border)…

Day 103: Miyameh – 25 km outside Tabriz (114km) – Distance travelled so far 5823km “The 85km climb and The Stay at an Iranian Red Cresent Centre (aka “Red Moon”) “

Waking up this morning was extremely pleasurable….It was yet another successful nights rest/stay at the most peaceful of environments. These sports complex’s are dynamite altogether!!!……..One great trait which the Iranians possess in abundance is “privacy”….”They know when enough is enough” and to leave one another in peace….They like to help, but once that task is finished, they simply say goodbye….

You may remember, how exhausting it was for us in Nepal and India that whenever we stopped, that a whole host of people would flock around us sometimes staring at us for hours….We thus found it so difficult to catch a minutes peace towards the end of our days’ cycle…

True is, it is indeed the “nature of the beast” – and is what we signed up for…… Possessing the “yeti- like” beards probably doesn’t help our cause either, but I suppose the point is, that we are beginning to enjoy our personal freedom a little more again…..It feels great!!!……


Meandering Iranian roads…Scenery is pretty class at the moment


….and damn proud of it too


The hills have eyes

Believe it or not, the hills are never too devoid of activity around these parts. You will always spot a farmer, a hill walker or even a family of picnic’ers stumbling along some part of the hill/mountain…


Most small cities up here have a Ferris wheel….Miyameh was no exception


The remains of an old town settlement…..potentially a good camping spot we reckoned


Pausing after one very steep ascent (We did a total of 84km of this to be exact)


The Sahandkuh Mt Range (It’s where Tabriz’ins hit the slopes)


Reflecting on a galiant effort….Nearly there

We reach a town about 25-28km outside Tabriz and reckon that reaching it (when fresher) in the morning would be far better than pushing ourselves too much….250km in two days is a pretty good return having regard to the climbs and winds etc…..

We are offered great lodgings in a place named Shibli, just outside Bostanbad….The place is akin to a search and rescue centre….The boys give us a big room, blankets, tea and home cooked rissotto, which lets just say….needed to be falsley consumed to cause minimal offence to a most pleasent and hospitalble head chef…….(pretty harsh stuff!!!)

We play some volleyball with the whole rescue team and then retire for the evening…..Another great evening for the us all…..


Mike panned out in the luxurious surrounds of The Red Cresent

We arose in the morning (not too early, about 10am) to complete a leisurely 25 odd kilometers to Tabriz. There is a 2km steep ascent to start out with, but the remainder is pretty much a free-role in Tabriz city. The city is v-big and accomodation is great to find….We book into a place called Mamoodi in the centre of town.

Tabriz will offer us alot and we plan to stay here till Monday at least….so its bike repair, some premiership football, laundry, showers and correspondance it is…Lots to do on our days off us bhoys…..but we do know that Turkey is only a stones throw and that we are still on the road….

Cheers again for all the support over the last month….It has been of tremendous importance to us…

Slan

The lads.

Saveh – Buin (92km)

Day 98: Saveh – Buin (92km) – Distance travelled so far 5,388km ” 67km by bicycle 25km by cop car!!”


Pulling out of Saveh…Nice and warm again….Phew!!!!!!

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Mike setting a fast pace….


That’s a mighty fine moustache you’ve got there pilgrim!!!!!!!!!!


Factory in the middle of non-existance…

The winds have come and they have come with avengence….We have in the last couple of days tackled trojan headwinds with a healthy splash of rain thrown into the mix….”a cyclists nightmare’….


Guided by Police….(See below)

This was quite a precarious situation to find ourselves in….Think about this…we had targetted a town approx 70km away, which transpired to be nothing but a petrol station….There was a huge storm blowing which meant that cycling was next to impossible (8-9km p/hr)…Trucks were passing ridiculously close to us (nearly knocking us off our bikes)…so we were pretty much confined to wait for the trucks (cyclist killers!!!) to pass by before getting back on the bikes again….

Then the Police came…and insisted that we got to Buin (25km away) and out of the storm….We decided that since we had no food in our pannier bags, and that we were nowhere near “camp-like” ground, we take advantage of the kind gesture from the Police….

The Police then flagged down a small-sized truck for the bikes and escorted us straight into Buin….Nice!!!!!!


Baby on board..(On route to Buin)

Day 99: Buin – Takestan (86km) – Distance travelled so far 5,474km “The Sun is Shining (well sporadically anyway!!”


Brian just loves those swings!!!…play time cycling out of Buin


Are ya flying to Shannon by any chance?


Ohh Sailor!!!!!!!!


Candid


Mike acting pretty


Appears to be sunny….but they are in fact cold blue skies…Eeekk!!!!!!


Green grass is a welcome release from rocks and sand


Discussing ways to beat the winds….oh those damn headwinds!!!!


Cloud no.9? But can you name the artist who wrote that number?


Mike’s machine….


Thaireland’s complete rig thus far…


Check those curls!!!!

Day 100: Takestan – Zanjan(107km) – Distance travelled so far 5,581km ” A pleasant roll into Zanjan”

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Baaaa!!!!! “If that shepard expects me to eat this crap….I swear to God..Im leaving this stupid flock”

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Brians bike posing


Spray painted chicks in a box..


Mike gets the chop…(We laughed for hours too!!!)


Mike with the cast of Gullivers Travels

Having some fun over dinner…(enjoy!!)


400 yr old vaulted restaurant…(pretty cool setting..food was only ok though)


Mike and Paul with Iranian bikes…

Whilst here in Zanjan, we met a good guy named Meidi, who took us to his local bike shop to try and get some spare tubes etc etc…Transpired that there were no bike tubes for us. We did however buy some new bike pumps though….


Mike mending the JVC back at his quarters….21:00 hrs


Knife stores are so common here in Zanjan…(That’s not a knoife….this is a knife!!!”)


Paul got two pairs of Iranian glasses off this cool guy named Behnam..


Nicely lit water feature in the centre of Zanjan….

 

Delijan – Qom (84km)

Day 96: Delijan – Qom (84km) – Distance travelled so far 5,221km ” Leaving the desert”


Cyrstal clear blue water coming from a huge Dam up ahead


Climbing up over a mountain pass….Thats what you call a good early morning workout

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The view from the conquered mountain pass…


Mike contemplates on the tough climb…..

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Another roadside Mosque…Stopped here for..would’nt you know it..a kebab!!!!!

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Brian being candid about something or other


Met these Iranian cycling enthusiasts…25km from Qom


Mike with our newly made Iranian cycling chums


Qom versus Tehran in soccer and at full stadium capacity….


Khan Khan on cycles

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At the Holy Shrine in Qom

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Pure gold ceilings at this gaff

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Devoted Muslims inside The Mosque of Jamkaran (The Biggest Mosque in Iran)

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Sneaky pic of a father and son praying inside the Mosque…(apologies for poor quality)

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Thousands of Iranians flock to Qom each day…It is claimed to be Iran’s most holy city..


Paul and Mike outside Jamkaran Holy Mosque


Mike and Ali (our cycling buddy/tour guide) pose for the camera…

Not to harp on too much about Iranian hospitality, but by Jesus (Yes your allowed say this in Iran!!) they are damn friendly. Ali (the above mentioned cyclist) took us on an all expenses (including taxi’s and food) tour of Qom and its major landmarks/sites/mosques. He then organised us a place to sleep for the night in a local sports centre (incidentally, these places are worth their weight in gold as places of refuge/shelter). Its truely amazing that Ali, who met us just hours beforehand, took us under his wing and pretty much catered for our every need….Cheers again Ali. You have left yet another great memory and impression of Iran and their people in our minds….Best of luck with your cycling/touring also…


The sun sets patiently….on the Golden Roof of Jamkaran


“Crane in a Mosque”….Huge renovation/restoration is underway at alot of these Mosques

A little observation we have made about cities in Iran is that they all claim to be the holier than each other…For example when we were in Yazd, we heard this claim….then it was the turn of Esfahan and now it’s Qom…They all claim to be the holiest place in Iran….Its all case of trying to “outholy” each other perhaps!!….Take Qom, and especially at Jamkaran (pictured above), they are currently building onto the existing Mosque thereby enhancing it at least three times its size….so when they say its the biggest Mosque in Iran….most of what we observed was 21st century mass concrete in nature….We think that the bigger the Mosque your city has….the more tourists that will flock to it and more importantly to the city itself ($$$$Rials$$$)…..Not that we are suggesting anything untoward…… now but in summation…..Qom is trying to be a pretty holy place indeed….


Paul, Mike and Ali inside our free accomodation in Qom (a sports complex)


All safe and sound for the night…Our beloved bikes…(They sometimes talk to us too)

Day 97: Qom – Saveh (75km) – Distance travelled so far 5,296km “Same Same…Boring day to be fair”

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Farmers keeping tabs on their herds of goats….


Brian thinking that…a banana will do the trick

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Same old…same old….bikes n’ roads…Damn boring somedays

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We stopped to admire a local tombstone engraver just outside Saveh

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The handy work of one craftsman…. 

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Saveh here we come….(Just approaching the city centre here)

We bed down in a hostel that had been spray painted all over…Yes…the light bulbs, the windows, sockets, switches….Very funny place…but good value….

Oiche Mhaith….Zzzzzzz

 

Esfahan – Meymeh (102km)

Day 94: Esfahan – Meymeh (102km) – Distance travelled so far 5,060km ” Harsh headwinds and the jolly kebab chef”

On the road again…… Turkey in our sights…Yeahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!! We head out of Esfahan, (holier than thou) and with legs ready to pump more kilometers. The weather is still cold and wet (at times) so its a little unusual for us. Come to think of it..it’s probably a sign of things to come…ie, “European style” weather conditions….


The country side is becoming more green…and more hilly….

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The roads hard-shoulders are extremely handy for us to cycle in….

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Road-side Mosques are such a frequent sight…

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A novel way to pull a trailer….(just stick a tyre underneath!!!)

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Fresh pasture one minute….then absolute nothingness…that’s Iran for you

One thing we do know these days, is that the winds have picked up considerably. Strong gusts have meant that our usually speedy 25km per/hr has been depeleted right down to 15km per/hr for large chunks of the day…It is tough going and cycling feels like an “uphill” climb

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More sweets given to us by the Locals…


Farsi inscriptions on the Iranian Mountains


Pulling out again after a roadside tea-break…


Came across this funny little man….when we stopped for lunch..Kebabs again!!!

Check out the below vid’s…..He most definatley entertained us!!!


 

 


Adorable!!!!!!


Strong winds can pick up in these valleys..Bad news for us cyclists…


Newly formed boyband….CHUNKS OF IRANIAN HUNKS

As we have said, Iran is so hospitable to the point that we hardly need to camp here at all, simply because people offer us home stays, schools and other lodgings..It’s quite astonishing. We can come into any town knowing that somebody will assist us…Lucky us eh!!

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Just follow us and we will sort you out for lodgings…..

We came into Mey Meh pretty late (about 5:30pm, 6pm) freezing cold and hoping that we could “swing” some free accomodation. We headed straight for the local Mosque, where we were helped straight away. The locals guided us to the local school where they told us to bed down in comfort for the night…The school had everything a touring cyclist would need…Warmt, blankets, kitchen and a hot shower…Perfect!!!


Our very own school for the night…Gas fire…shower and kitchen…Nice!!!!!


Let me stand next to your (gas) fire!!!!


W/C avec La Douche…..

Day 95: Meymeh – Delijan (77km) – Distance travelled so far 5,137km “Our meeting with a Hyena and Freezing Iranian Weather”

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Naughty shot of Mike’s Dawes Galaxy…

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Pretty cold..but onwards we go….

The weather is absolutley freezing this morning…(3-4 celcuis at least)….Jumping jacks and lots of “hands on arses” was called upon to subdue the numbness that rippled through our purplely/orangey toned hands…Not a morning for cycling to be honest….

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Ladies with Chadors conversing in the cold desert…


Iranians go through mountains……luckily fo us!!!!!!!


Who thought that Iran was hot all the time!!….Damn cold towards the North…


Look Daddy…No hands!!!!!


Man versus Mountain

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Brian looking hot as we enter Delijan


Pics with locals sporting funny hair…(just like us!!!)


Cocksure

When we entered Delijan pretty early…we came across some pretty cool guys (pictured with us below)….They sorted us out a place to stay in their local school….We decided to do a bit of sight seeing and meet the guys later on to get into the school…..It unfortunately transpired that the lads on their way back to meet us….came across a huge car accident (which left 10 people dead, including 9 camels) and by the time they met us, they were fairly shaken up by things…We thus decided to check into a hostel for the night….Worked out fine to be fair….


These guys helped us alot here in Delijan…