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10th March 2011 – Ararat, where are you? Oh, hello Iran!

April 30, 2011

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I wake fresh with excitement for the day ahead. Tonight, we’ll be in Iran. I cant wait.

We leave DogBiscuit with hope of getting a glimpse of Ararat, but the weather is hazy and despite taking the nearest road to the biggest mountain in Turkey, it is completely invisible. No amount of photo manipulation can prove that it was there, but we have to be assured that it didnt just vanish in the night. Somehwat dissappointing.

The road to the border is dull and one of those slow, gradual, and frustrating climbs. Eventually we hit the beginning of the 5km lorry tailback that suggests the border is near. We cycle past very happy that we’re not in the queue, playing spot the European truck in the line – there were a few dutch, german and even some Turkmenistan and Uzbek trucks – seeing these got us excited.

Of all the border crossings, this is the one that i have thought about the most. What with the price of the visa and the mystery surrounding Iran, it was sure to be a memorable crossing. It certainly was, but less so for what i imagined it to be (not so smooth) and more so for the surprising ease of it (the smooth transition was actually quite enjoyable). We got our first taste of Iranian hospitality at the border, which is odd as border guards usually leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth about the country you are about to enter. Not this time. We were greeted with smiles and laughter, with curiosity and respect. After waiting a while for them to process us we were taken to an office on the Iranian arrivals side and were made to give our fingerprints (for interpol apparantly). Then we were free to pass through to Iran. Great! The only trouble was we were motioned through the wrong exit and our bikes were still on the other side of the gate! We had to walk back through the exit gate and try and explain our situation (of course that was met with some suspicion) then they saw our predicament, laughed, and waved us through the crowds. We’ve arrived!

We excahnged some money with a very friendly guy just past the gate and luckily didnt get scammed. We headed off into Iran and found a great camp in an orchard looking over some rather epic mountains.

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