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(6) Peking - Paris - Report 6 - Impressions on Iran

Wednesday, October 6th

This is the last of our 3 nights in Iran and each one presented us with new experiences...

The first night at Gorgan was supposed to be a quiet affair. We were staying in 4 different hotels in town, but at the start of the day we were told to all go to one particular one. Upon arrival, after a border crossing and 550 Km, we were invited to dinner and it became clear that there were only 28 rooms for the whole party, nearly 300 people strong!
What had happened? According to the organisers, the Iranian vice president was supposed to be in town and all our other booked rooms were taken over by his party including bodyguards.
In the end he did not come, but the hotels had received no official confirmation of this and were unable to release the rooms.
How did we manage? Well, many people got their matresses and sleeping bags out of thier cars and slept on the floor of the lobby, others on the terrace.
We were lucky, we were assigned a two bedroom suite with two bedrooms and we managed to accomodate eight of us in there: a couple on the double bedroom, two ladies on the twin room, and four guys on the floor of the living room... Not much sleep though...
The second day took us to Rasht on the Caspian Sea, after another long drive. Stages were cancelled because of the conditions the night before, and the weather began to change, with fog and rain on the hills (for the first time on the event). The Caspian was a disappointment, with rain, strong winds, high waves and a yellowish water colour.
Today we are staying at Tabriz. We were invited to a reception and dinner in town, which was supposed to be chaired by the iranian vice-president (again), being driven there by a fleet of sixty classic cars from the members of the local club. He did not come (again) but the session started with the national anthem, and we had to listen to one hour of speeches in Iranian, intermingled with songs, pictures, etc. of the town and the Azerbaijan province. In the end we were given nice trophies of the event. But everybody was tired and we were among the first to leave at about 10.30.

It is now clear that we will leave Iran with mixed impressions:

- the people are nice and very friendly and their enthusiasm for the event is extraordinary. They will wave hello, sound horns, flash lights, travel at just a few inches from our cars to take the best pictures, etc. On this enthusiasm alone, you could easily trick yourself into thinking you are in the Mille Miglia...
- the roads are generally good and ocasionally very good, with good surface and correct signing, etc., which was a welcome change from our previuose xperiences in Mongolia and the Stans;

But other comparisons that come to mind are less complimentary:

- traffic is very heavy and chaotic. In a way it reminded me of India, with the big difference that drivers here travel much faster and practice an extremely agressive driving technique. Just leave an "inch" between you and the car on either side and a local will immediatelly put his car into that gap and force its way...
- we found a lot of rubbish along the road side on villages or open spaces, with plastic bags, bottle, etc. Which was an unexpected bad urprise;
- construction standards, both from a functional or aesthetically point of vue were also disappointing. We could easily compare what we saw here with most of Northern Africa or even the Brazil "favelas" or slums.

All in all, most people on the event are glad we will leave for Turkey tomorrow...

  • ashqabad rally cars
  • bellydance
  • deserved naps

  • first night in iran
  • golden domes
  • nice characters

  • rod
  • sanatorium
  • turkmenistan border

  • u-bolt

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