3 December 2018

Update November 2018

Countries visited: Iran

Cycled mileage in November: 1,763.8km
Cycled mileage per country: 1,763.8km Iran
Total cycled mileage incl. November: 44,966.3km
November mileage not cycled 89.9km (Taxi, Ferry, Walking)

Days per country: 30d - Iran
Days cycling: 19d

Technical failures: 5 Punctures, 1 Shifting Cable

Link to this month's route

After a physically and mentally exhausting month of October, cycling in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran we had reached the town of Torbat-e Heydarieh in the North-east of Iran. We had arrived there shivering and drenched after a long day of cycling in constant rain.
When we woke up the next morning the weather was – of course – back to sunny. We could have cycled on but we both felt shattered and elected for a day off. There wasn't a whole lot to do in town. We had heard about a Sufi shrine but couldn't really figure out its exact location. Other than that Torbat-e Heydarieh is famous for saffron. In fact most people we had met in town had asked us whether we came there to buy saffron. After faffing about for most of the morning we used the afternoon to stroll through the bazaar. The scent of saffron was lingering and we found some shops selling the precious spice. Despite the magic that surrounds saffron most of the stores looked quite boring. But then how would you display such a small and delicate thing like saffron?!
For the rest of the day we kept us busy doing some research about the route ahead. It turned out there was a UNESCO awarded qanat, a millennia-old underground irrigation system, in Gonabad. It wasn't really on our planned route but it wasn't too much of a detour either.
That's how all the saffron magic starts
Saffron in a shop
Making new friends
The next morning was sunny and we even had a wee bit of tailwind. We quickly reached the highway that thankfully wasn't too busy. Apparently there were still some Arba'een related ceremonies going on. While we cycled along we repeatedly saw processions of young men marching towards Mashhad while waving flags. We reached the turn-off to Gonabad just after noon. The sun would set around 4.30pm and it was another 80 kilometres to go. It was easy cycling. The road was smooth as silk with ample shoulder. We cruised through the desert and only stopped twice. First when a driver offered us a cup of tea and then again some 20 kilometres short of Gonabad to take pictures of a decaying adobe village next to the highway. We briefly thought about going into the village but that would have meant rolling into town after nightfall. Just after 4pm we reached the location where our navigation apps indicated a hotel. We wandered around but there was just no hotel. Eventually two locals sent us to what they said was the only hotel in town. We went there and expected the worst when we saw the crumbling concrete building. But in fact the room was modern and spotless clean. While we were unloading the bikes an Iranian family left the adjacent restaurant. They were so intrigued that we kept chatting for almost half an hour and of course they wouldn't let us go before we had taken selfies with all of them. Eventually they left, we dumped all our stuff in the hotel room and went out to have some food.
Decaying adobe village
Posing for a selfie
We slept in the next morning, had breakfast in the hotel and then went out to visit the qanat. We couldn't be bothered to cycle there and taxis are cheap enough in Iran. The receptionist called a cab for us and off we went. The Qasabeh Qanat was only recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and they are still working on implementing some sort of tourist infrastructure. We first went to an administrative building where we were shown an English documentary about the history of qanats in Iran and the Qasabeh Qanat in particular. Together with a guide we then continued to one of the qanat's entrances. Apparently qanats can be hundreds of metres underneath the surface but this one isn't quite as deep. Still it was fascinating to go down the long staircase to a dry section of the tunnel. After a short stop at a small basin where water would once have been available to the inhabitants of Gonabad our tour was over and we returned to the hotel.
The next morning we slept late and by the time we woke up it was a bit late to even get on the bikes. It didn't take much convincing to make us extend our stay for another night. We couldn't really get ourselves to do anything and so we just spent the day watching movies and listening to audiobooks.
Qasabeh Qanat
One of the qanat's outlets
The day after we finally left. We still didn't get an early start but we only planned to do about 70 kilometres to Ferdows, the next bigger town. The way there would be quite exhausting, though. There was a total of 1,200 metres climbing ahead. In the end it turned out not to be that bad. The road wasn't busy at all and the landscape was actually pretty nice. We also passed an abandoned mud-brick caravanserai which we spent some time exploring. In the late afternoon we reached Ferdows and went straight to the only hotel in town. Just when we stopped in front of it we were given pomegranates by some strangers – thank you! We dumped our stuff in the room and then went out to do some shopping for dinner and for the way ahead. Ferdows is kind of a weird town. We couldn't really figure out where the centre was but ultimately we found a sizeable supermarket and that was all we were looking for.
Ruins of a caravanserai...
...on the way from Gonabad to Ferdows
After the secondary road yesterday it was back to highway riding the next morning. For the first bit it was a dual-carriage road with ample shoulder but after lunch the smooth new road ended and we found ourselves on a narrow and bumpy road without any shoulder. Bummer! Also the wind picked up notably and clouds turned in. We had hoped to hit the 100 kilometres mark but after 85 kilometres we threw in the towel. We found an acceptable camping spot near a dry river bed and called it a day.
Grey weather the next day
Camping in the desert
The next day it was back to sunny and we made good progress. Around lunchtime we reached the small town of Deyhuk. There were some modern buildings and a rest area right next to the highway but the real attraction was Old Deyhuk. A sizeable and well-preserved adobe village about a kilometre away from the new town. We cycled there and were surprised to find some of the buildings still inhabited. We probably could have spent half the afternoon strolling around the narrow alleys but we were too hungry and soon cycled on to the rest area where there were some fast-food restaurants. After a short lunch we continued towards Tabas. It was still about 75 kilometres to go. The first bit was fairly hilly but eventually we descended back into the desert. Just where the steep descent ended was the historic oasis of Esfahak. There were some efforts to turn the palm-tree dotted adobe village into a tourist attraction but to us it looked just super sleepy – if highly photogenic. We treated ourselves to an ice cream and powered on. Just before sunset we eventually reached Tabas. We had been hoping to find a hotel but our hopes were soon shattered. All accommodation was full as it was a religious holiday and there is an important shrine in Tabas. By the time we had checked out all hotels in town it was night. We briefly thought about cycling on for a bit and pitching our tent somewhere outside town. In the end we abandoned that plan as we still had shopping to do for the 160 kilometres of desert ahead. Instead we remembered a small city park we had passed earlier. Picnicking and even overnight camping in parks isn't uncommon in Iran and so we decided to give it a try. We set up our tent on sort of a picnic platform with a drinking water tap and a public toilet nearby. There were some families still picnicking in the park but our tent didn't cause any raised eyebrows. In fact we did have a pretty good night. Only the noise from the main road was a bit of an annoyance.
Old Deyhuk
Esfahak oasis
Riding in the desert
Camping in a city park in Tabas
We got an early start the next morning, stocked up on food and water on the way out of town and then cycled straight into the desert. There would be 160 kilometres to the next village. The only source of water would be a mosque after 120 kilometres. We decided to aim there. Mosques tend to make good camping spots as they are safe and always provide drinking water and bathrooms. It was a long day with unrelenting headwind, a narrow road and vast expanses of nothingness all around. We hadn't spoken to anyone all day but around sunset and with the mosque already in sight we were waved down by a car driver. We stopped and he grabbed a big container full of rice and grilled eggplants and offered us some. We were starving at that point and didn't hesitate to fill one of our pots with food. What a nice guy! With the last daylight we reached the mosque. We asked whether we could pitch our tent in the covered courtyard and were given permission. We set up camp and then stuffed our faces with the food the guy had shared with us earlier. The courtyard was an excellent wind shelter. Still it was fairly chilly and we soon went to bed.
Welcome to the desert!
Vast expanses of nothingness
Sleeping in the courtyard of a mosque
We woke up early the next morning from the first call to prayer and had packed up by 8am. The mosque was built in the place where some American warplanes and helicopters had crashed during the Islamic Revolution. The wrecks were still on display in the desert behind the mosque and we briefly stopped for some pictures before we cycled on. After 40 kilometres we reached the village of Robat-e Posht-e Badam. There wasn't anything interesting about it and we just stopped at the rest area outside the village to have an early lunch. After a bit more desert cycling we reached the shores of a dry salt lake. There was an abandoned caravanserai and ruins of a castle nearby. We spent about an hour exploring both sites. Eventually we cycled on and soon reached Saghand. There is an important shrine in this small town but most of it seemed to be a giant construction site. It was already late afternoon and so we went to the central mosque to check if and where we could pitch our tent. It took a while until we found someone who appeared competent to answer that question. Surprisingly we were offered a room in a wing of the mosque. Usually these rooms would be rented to pilgrims but as the area was being rebuilt we could stay for free. Score!
Crashed American warplanes...
...from the days of the Islamic Revolution
Abandoned caravanserai
Ruins of a castle
Shrine in Saghand
Our room in a house for pilgrims
We had expected to be woken up by the early prayer call but either there was no call or we didn't hear it. With no alarm set we slept in and it was 9.30am by the time we hit the road. The riding was rather uneventful. Vast expanses of nothingness either side of the road. After Saghand came a long downhill followed by a long uphill. Also finally the shoulder resumed. The first time we had a constant shoulder to ride on since leaving Ferdows! We reached Kharanaq rest area in time for a late lunch and had some delicious chicken kebabs. There is a namesake millennia-old adobe village nearby and that's where we cycled after lunch. Kharanaq village has long been abandoned and the houses are in varying states of decay. We spent nearly two hours wandering through narrow alleys, climbing claustrophobic staircases and jumping from roof to roof. Probably we still had only seen a fraction of it! With the last daylight we returned to the rest area. Like all rest areas it featured a mosque and there was a small park with picnic platforms behind that mosque. We chose a platform that was sheltered by some shrubs and set up camp on it.
Skyline of Kharanaq
Strolling through a maze of alleys
Another night at a mosque
The night wasn't that great as the noises from the highway kept waking us up. Just when we were about to pack up the next morning it started to rain. Not for long luckily and as soon as the rain had stopped we hit the road. It was a nice downhill pretty much all the way to Yazd. The first half was nice riding with not too much traffic speeding past us. For the second half we had to join a much bigger highway and things became rather stressful. We felt relieved when we finally reached our accommodation in a traditional house in the old town of Yazd. Other than taking a well-deserved shower and going out for food we didn't do anything for the rest of the day.
On the way into Yazd...
Our hostel in a traditional house
The next day we got up super early and took a taxi to the immigration police office in the outskirts of town. Our visas were still valid for 12 more days but we had heard that early extensions would be possible in Yazd. In fact they accepted our applications for 30-day visa extensions and told us to come back the next day to pick up our passports. The rest of the day we aimlessly strolled around the old town. Yazd is an ancient oasis and the old town mostly consists of adobe houses. It was just good fun to get lost in the maze of alleys.
Strolling through...
...Yazd old town
The next morning we returned to the immigration police office and after an hour waiting we received our passports back – with visa extensions until the end of December! We celebrated with a fresh pomegranate-juice (sooooo good!) and spent the rest of the day strolling through the old town a bit more. This time we also visited the Jameh Mosque, with its 48 metres-tall minarets one of Yazd's landmarks. After a detour to the so called Amir Chakhmaq Complex, another of Yazd's landmarks, we returned to our hotel. The forecast was for rain for the next couple of days. With our visas extended there was no time pressure for us any more and so we decided to extend our stay in Yazd to a total of six nights.
The next few days went by rather uneventfully. We did a bit of planning, fixed some minor problems on our bikes and panniers, sorted our resupplies - and just enjoyed doing nothing.
Nothing better than fresh pomegranate juice
Jameh Mosque
Amir Chakhmaq Complex
Supplies for 3 days
On 17th November it was eventually time to leave Yazd. We didn't plan to go too far. About 30 kilometres to the south-east from Yazd is the historic town of Fahraj. Apart from the usual selection of adobe houses there is also the supposedly oldest purpose-built mosque in Iran. Even though Fahraj wasn't quite on our route that sounded interesting enough to go there. We didn't get a particularly early start as we wanted to avoid the morning rush hour. In fact the way out of town was fairly relaxed and soon we found ourselves on an almost traffic-free road towards Fahraj. There was a bit of a tailwind and we cruised along. By midday we reached Fahraj. Someone had recommended a guesthouse called Faravardin Desert Inn. It was early enough to finish the sightseeing in Fahraj and just cycle on afterwards. But we felt rather lazy and decided to check out that guesthouse. It was a nice place and as we were in low season they asked a very reasonable price. The lady who checked us in didn't speak much English and asked us to wait for the return of the guesthouse's owner. We ended up hanging around for quite a while. Our motivation was rather low anyway and so it wasn't much of a problem. Eventually we had everything sorted and were given some recommendations about which places to visit in Fahraj. The village really wasn't that big and soon we had explored the ruins of a mudbrick castle, a decaying hammam and the Jameh Mosque. The mosque was actually a quite interesting piece of architecture with a uniquely shaped minaret and the patina that is to be expected on one of Iran's oldest mosques. We had also been recommended to visit a historic village, shrine and caravanserai about 2 kilometres away from the centre of the village. We walked there and were disappointed to find the shrine locked. Still the ruins of the village were amazingly photogenic in the gentle evening light. Just after nightfall we were back in the guesthouse. Masoud, the owner, came by. He spoke excellent English and we kept chatting until late about our travel plans in Iran, about his travel plans for India and about a whole lot of random stuff.
Fahraj Jameh Mosque
Courtyard of the mosque
Ruins in the desert near Fahraj
The next day we did get an early start. For the first bit the day wasn't a whole lot of fun as we had to backtrack for about 30 kilometres to get from Fahraj back on our route. Cycling the main highway was rather stressful and we were glad when we finally turned into the small road towards Saryazd. Another 15 kilometres detour. Saryazd used to be an important oasis and trade stop back in the days. Still there remain a few caravanserais and most importantly the ruins of a castle that was once used to store grains and supplies for nearby Yazd. It was a bit difficult to find the access road to the castle as there was construction work and a total absence of signposts but eventually we pushed our bikes through the gate and left them with the guards. The castle actually was huge and fairly well-preserved. We spent the next three hours exploring an infinite number of storage rooms and small alleys. There was some modest restoration work going on but no explanations whatsoever and no indications which parts of the ruins were safe to access. Well, we didn't break through collapsing ceilings or fell into gaping holes in the floors. In fact it was great fun to stroll around.
After the castle the caravanserais were rather underwhelming. One was locked and the other one had been turned into a restaurant and hotel. It was already early afternoon and we decided to push on to Mehriz where we wanted to stay for the night and where we wanted to visit the UNESCO-awarded Pahlavanpur Garden. We briefly stopped for some food along the way and reached town by 3pm. We hadn't been too sure about the Saraye Jahangardi guesthouse but it turned out to be a beautiful historic building with an amazing yard and nice rooms. We didn't want to be too late for the Pahlavanpur Garden so we just parked our bikes in the yard without even unloading them. Luckily the garden was within walking distance from the guesthouse. And it was so worth it. The centre of the garden is marked by a light-filled pavilion with beautiful views over a small stream lined with old plane and pomegranate trees. The evening sun on the autumn-coloured leafs was just stunning. We strolled around for quite a while and only left after the sun had disappeared behind the mountains. Back in the guesthouse we were asked whether we wanted to have dinner. We had had such a nice day that we decided to treat ourselves and ordered chicken kebab. There was a lounge area and around dinner time it quickly filled up with people. We had some nice random conversations and were invited to taste some of the food the other guests had ordered. Apparently the restaurant was favoured for the excellent food. Score! We had been waiting impatiently for our food and finally it was served.
It. Was. So. Good.
After dinner we chatted some more with the daughter of the owner who spoke good English. We also had good fun playing with the tame parrot that was vandalising through the lounge in the search for some treats. What a nice evening!
Saryazd castle
Storage rooms inside the castle
Guesthouse in Mehriz
Pahlavanpur Garden
We got a delicious breakfast and an early start the next morning. After the stressful experience on the main highway to the Persian Gulf we had put together a significantly longer route that would mostly avoid the big highways. The beginning was promising. We were cycling uphill for most of the day but the road didn't have much traffic and the landscape was nice. In a small village we stopped to buy some snacks and were invited for tea and offered to use the WiFi of the shop. We didn't stay long, though. Next was a long downhill at the end of which would be a rest area where we wanted to camp for the night. Unexpectedly the road became dual-carriage even though there were still hardly any cars. One of the few cars stopped and we had a brief chat with the driver who turned out to work as a ranger in a nearby national park. He kindly gave us some fruits and then we all carried on. The clouds had started to look a bit threatening in the meanwhile and the wind had picked up quite a bit. Luckily the downhill continued and we easily reached the rest area before nightfall. Unfortunately there wasn't anywhere to pitch our tent really. Pretty much all suitable spots were covered with coarse gravel. While we were still trying to figure out where to sleep we were invited to tea and biscuits by a friendly family on their way to Tehran. They suggested we asked at the nearby Red Crescent station. We said farewell to the family and pushed our bikes to the station. None of the young men there spoke any English but over another cup of tea we managed to explain the situation. There were some phone calls made and apparently they weren't allowed to let us stay. Two guys went off and when they came back they had found us a sleeping place in a storage room of one of the shops at the rest area. Great! They made sure we had everything we needed and gave us a gas stove to heat up the room.
Beautiful landscape
Sleeping place at a rest area
The rest area wasn't all too busy and we had a fairly good rest. The forecast was for rainy weather later in the day and so we set off at 7.30am. For the first 20 kilometres we even had some tailwind and we cruised along. Then a gradual climb began, the dual-carriage ended, the road turned and we were suddenly facing a strong crosswind. Still we managed to make 50 kilometres by 10am. We decided to leave the ring road around the town of Marvast and to look for some early lunch in the city centre. Unfortunately 10am is a rather awkward time for food and all restaurants were still closed. Some locals stopped to check whether we needed any help. One of them even invited us home for the night. We briefly thought about the offer but as it was that early in the day we decided to rather move on. Probably not the wisest decision. When we stopped to picnic a few kilometres later at a public park it started to drizzle. News of our appearance in Marvast had seemingly already spread. Just when we packed up our stuff a guy with a phone in his hand stopped. A friend had told him about us and he wanted to chat to us. He told us he had started to study English only 4 months ago and we were stunned how well he spoke the language after such a short time. He invited us for lunch but we had just had our picnic. Some days our timing is really unfortunate. We kindly refused his offer and cycled on. For the rest of the day it was on-and-off rain and a gusty wind. In the afternoon we reached Harat. We stopped at a fast-food restaurant for a second lunch. Watching the grey weather outside didn't make camping look like a very pleasant option. We asked the owner of the restaurant whether there would be a guesthouse in town. Actually he said there was one and offered to guide us there. It was a public holiday and he was about to close his restaurant for the day anyway. Soon later we followed his car through the outskirts of town. We got a room with a small kitchen and ensuite bathroom in a very basic guesthouse. The interior was a bit dated and not particularly clean but certainly better than camping in that weather! For the rest of the day we stayed indoors.
Guesthouse in Harat
The next morning didn't start well. When we loaded the bikes we noticed that one of our water bottles had been stolen. We had left some of the bottles strapped to the bike as they were parked indoors. Funnily they were locked to a water dispenser which made stealing a water bottle even more ridiculous. Even though an used PET water bottle obviously doesn't have any value it quite pissed us off. And things didn't get much better over the course of the day. When we stopped at the supermarket of a small village a rather disgusting old man aggressively tried to convince us to follow him to a prostitute. No, thank you! By that point we were already on short fuse. The risky driving we encountered on the remaining way to the town of Neyriz didn't help matters. Probably some of the drivers high on testosterone felt the urge to impress us by speeding past us as close as they could in their cars or with their motorbikes. Whatever the reasons - by the time we reached town we were close to losing our temper with Iranian traffic. We found a mediocre hotel and except for buying something for dinner we locked us in to our room.
Nice mountain road
The next day started relatively positive. We were cycling a very nice mountain road and even a puncture, a snapped shifting cable and a group of 3 youngsters who wanted to sell us drugs couldn't really bother us. We had opted for a short day to visit the Sar Asiab waterfall in the town of Estheban. Just after 1pm we rolled into town and found a reasonably cheap hotel. The plan was to get something for lunch and then walk to the waterfall which was just two kilometres from the hotel. And that was when things went awry. At the restaurant they clumsily tried to overcharge us, the waterfall was rather underwhelming and when we bought an ice cream to cheer us up they again tried to overcharge. Sometimes it's just all those small things that annoy you.
Park in Estheban
Chicken kebab in a restaurant
We were still in a rather negative mindset the next day. Again the road was really scenic with little traffic. Actually the first half of the day wasn't even that bad. We met 3 local mountainbikers and had a brief chat. We didn't find a common language and so we didn't really understand their advice about the road ahead. The driver of a car that stopped a bit further on spoke a bit more English and he warned us of a construction site ahead. We didn't get the details, though, and yet another puncture kept us too busy to think much about the road ahead. That road suddenly ended at a construction site. There were three options to go from there but no road signs. We chose the only paved road as our navigation system suggested. A car with four young men stopped and one of them started a long monologue in Farsi. We very obviously didn't understand a word plus all of them were giggling constantly so we just ignored them and rode on. A long, steep downhill followed - until the road ended straight into what looked like a recently built water reservoir. We were fuming and cycled back up to the turn-off. This time we opted for the dirt road with the most car tracks. Still not knowing whether it was the right way we followed the dusty track for about 15 kilometres and over an infinite series of steep ascents. Eventually we reached the end of the water reservoir and found back onto the road our navigation system had suggested. Unfortunately that road seemed to be a popular route for motorcyclists. As it was Friday big groups of them had gathered to speed along the slopes. Even after a less unpleasant day there is literally no fun in having a motorbike speeding past you within centimetres or doing wheelies right next to you. One of the idiots nearly got into a physical confrontation with Simon and we were both completely fed up by the time we rolled into the town of Darab. We found a nice hotel and locked ourselves in to our room after dinner.
Epic downhill
Posing with local mountainbikers
View over the new water reservoir that cut off our way!
When we checked the weather forecast the next morning it was for heavy rain for the next two days. We knew we wouldn't reach any sizeable town before the storm was to start and so we decided to take a break in Darab and to extend our stay by three nights. The receptionist spoke excellent English and suggested to do a bit of sightseeing in Darab while the weather was still good. We were in a much more positive mood and agreed. One of the employees of the hotel would drive us around town to check out all the sights that we were interested in. Score!
We first drove to the Naghshe Shapoor bas-relief depicting the victory of the Persians against the Roman empire. Our hotel was actually named after the relief. We were pretty glad we went to the relief by car as we probably wouldn't have found the way on our own! Next was the ancient city of Darabgerd. Supposedly one of the oldest cities in Iran. Today only a concentric mudbrick wall around the area of the former city remains. The sheer size of the site was impressive, though! Lastly we drove to a Zoroastrian fire temple carved into the side of a mountain. At some point in history the temple was turned into a mosque. It didn't seem to be used as such any longer and the absence of any furniture gave the unadorned, dark rock structure a slightly sinister and mysterious touch. We were back at the hotel in the late afternoon and set off to a walk through the city centre. There wasn't much to see and the supposedly beautiful Jameh Mosque was unfortunately closed.
Naghshe Shapoor bas-relief
The picture doesn't do it justice.
Earthwall around the ancient city of Darabgerd
Posing with our guide
Fire temple
When we woke up the next morning the weather actually looked very threatening and we were happy to be indoors. Soon later the rain started and continued pretty much for the next 24 hours. We couldn't be bothered to do anything and for the next two days we just relaxed in our room and enjoyed the great food in the hotel's restaurant.
Rain day in Darab
Eventually the weather had cleared up and it was time to leave Darab. We totally failed with getting an early start anyway and then the hotel manager asked us to take a video and some pictures. Long story short - it was 10am by the time we got moving. The first few kilometres were over a busy highway but soon we turned into a secondary road. We had been a bit concerned about the quality of that particular road but it turned out to be fine and we made good progress. In the afternoon we left the secondary road and followed another highway. Luckily it wasn't particularly busy. Unexpectedly we saw a sign for a tunnel ahead. Quick check on the map, that tunnel would be one kilometre long. There was the old road with a bit more climbing paralleling the tunnel. We opted for the detour. A good choice. The road was in good condition, there was virtually no traffic and after a short, steep climb followed a long downhill with sharp switchbacks. Shortly later we joined the highway again. It was already late afternoon and when we saw a nice, tree-lined picnic park at the next rest area we didn't hesitate to pitch our tent between the trees. The staff of the rest area was super nice and helpful. They even offered us to take a shower, to lock our bikes into a garage or to sleep inside one of the unused buildings. Our tent was already set up and our bikes were locked so we kindly refused.
On the way to Lar
Camping at a rest area
Throughout the night the rest area wasn't too busy and we slept quite well. There was no need for an early start and so we didn't get an early start. The highway continued to be relatively empty, there was a wide shoulder all the way and the day went by rather uneventfully. At 2pm we reached the town of Lar. On our map there was a guesthouse and we headed that direction. When we rang the door of the building a policeman opened. It turned out the guesthouse was actually a police station. Weird. While the policeman explained the location of a proper hotel two young men arrived. They started chatting with Dominik while Simon was talking to the policeman. In fact the two men invited us home saying the hotel would be overpriced. Unfortunately the policeman heard the invitation and made a big fuss. Apparently private persons aren't allowed to host foreigners. A heated discussion between the men and the policeman started. Ultimately the invitation was retracted and the guys showed us the way to the hotel instead. The price was in fact steep but the hotel was seemingly the only one in town and so we decided to stay anyway. We dumped our bags and then took a taxi back into the old town. The reason we wanted to stay in Lar was to visit the famous bazaar. And it didn't disappoint. The Qeisariyeh Bazaar was sort of a prototype for the more famous bazaars in Kerman or Tabriz. It was actually a very nice experience to see such a significant historic bazaar without any tourists around. The nearby Jameh Mosque was also a very nice sight and came as a bit of a surprise. We kept strolling around the old town until after nightfall, did our shopping and just enjoyed the atmosphere.
Some more great food right before Lar
Qeisariyeh Bazaar in Lar
Jameh Mosque
After a very good rest and an excellent breakfast in our expensive hotel we got going at 9am the next morning. Immediately after town we hit the highway that would take us the remaining 200 kilometres to the Persian Gulf. There were no towns along the way hence nothing to aim for. We just kept cycling, enjoyed the good quality of the road and the nice landscape. Late in the afternoon we passed an abandoned village with some palm trees. On closer inspection we found it would make for an excellent camping spot. We called it a day and admired the stunning sunset while we prepared dinner in front of the tent.
Camping in the desert
Even though the highway wasn't far away we had a good rest. After the recent rainfalls the ground was still damp and when we woke up everything was covered in condensation. It took a while for our tent to dry. Just when we had packed everything away we realized that Dominik's rear tyre was almost flat. Fixing a tyre is never a good start of a day. Eventually the bikes were roadworthy again and we finally got going. After the struggles in the morning we hadn't expected to make it to the coast that day but unexpectedly we had a good tailwind and were cruising along. At 3pm we reached the Persian Gulf and the small port of Bandar-e Pol. It took a while to figure out what we needed to do in order to board the ferry to Qeshm Island. It turned out that as cyclists we didn't need a ticket at all. But Qeshm is a free trade zone and so we spent quite a while at the customs office even though the island is still Iranian territory. Eventually we were on the ferry and after a ride of not even ten minutes we reached Qeshm Island with the last daylight. We had been hoping to find a nice camping spot along the road but there just wasn't any and so we ended up in the small village of Loft. When we asked for a guesthouse a fishermen offered us a room in his house. Initially it sounded like a nice offer. But as soon as we got there that impression faded. The room was shabby, the price was way too high and his disgusting wife was constantly pointing at us and laughing. Whatever was ridiculous about us - the whole situation was so utterly unpleasant that we immediately turned around and left. In the end a young man invited us to stay in the guest room of his parent's house. Given how touristy Qeshm is the invitation naturally came with a price tag. At least the price was fair this time and nobody was laughing at us. While we sat in the guest room we realized that we had finished the month of November less than 50 kilometres shy of the 45,000 kilometres mark!
Waiting to board the ferry to Qeshm