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Published: November 10th 2017
Geo: 38.081, 46.2901
Donned our Islamic clothing and headed the eerily quiet 30 kms down the road past Turkey's Military check posts, guard towers, tanks, bushrangers and other general displays of might to the border.
We had heard this to be a confusing border crossing and had read various tips from previous overlanders. If you can imagine arrival at an international airport, it kind of goes pretty standard immigration and then customs. Overland borders particularly with a vehicle follow no known standard and are further complicated by having departure from one country back to back with arrival to another. Sadly we timed it badly as there was a bus load of Iranians returning from Ramadan festivities in Turkey. Given 40 odd people (conservative estimate) arrive at the one time we could well understand why there was only single window open at the immigration office exiting turkey.
Long hot smelly story later it took us about an hour to get to the front of the line, it took about another hour to get our car and us stamped out. Yeah half way there. We were directed to a big security gate, Turkey opened their gate and we waited whilst Iran opened their equally serious looking gate. We drove through and the car inspection started. The look on the guys face when we flipped the doors on the canopy was just great. Not sure what the Farsi words for you have to be kidding were but that was the look he gave. They are primarily looking for alcohol which is banned in Iran, when he was convinced we were not carrying any the fun really started.
To say the process was not clear to us was an understatement. Fortunately for us Sholey a Tour Guide from Tehran was in the customs area awaiting her tourists also travelling overland but were several days late. She had little better to do than to translate for the customs staff and us and help to sort out the process. This even included Darren and Sholey leaving me and the car in the customs area, getting a taxi to another part of the border post getting some other documents and then returning to the start to lodge them. Long story short Sholey was an absolute angel whom without we would probably be stuck in no mans land.
After about three hours we exited the border area, hot, thirsty, hungry and mentally exhausted.
Now if you can imagine the Christmas Pageant that is kind of what if feels like to drive the Queen Mary in Iran. Welcome to Iran is shouted out of many cars along with mad waving, big smiles and people wanting to ask questions. Yes whilst we are driving in what Darren and I can only describe as the worst traffic we have ever experienced. If you can consider we have driven in both New Dehli and Cairo this is a big statement. Anyway we strategically waited till the end of Ramadan to enter Iran as the country pretty much closes for the month. After Ramadan there is a three day weekend celebrations and we had just driven into day two of the celebrations. Wow, if you consider Easter Log weekend coming home through Pt Wakefield, multiply the traffic by 3 lanes each way and then add a few extras as we counted seven cars side by side then wallah that was our welcome to Iran.
full steam ahead towards Tabriz because there is a camp site there located in a quiet park…. Or so we thought… one of the things we try to do when crossing into a new country is have the first night relaxed, get the feel of the place, work out the money and then move on.
Okay so as described above we drove head long into what I would call a 2 day 2 holiday shit fight. Found the camp ground and it was full… I mean full… actually overfull…. And there we were in the middle of everything the wrong way up a one way street trying to do a 3 point turn without knocking over the guard man with the machine gun and having to smile and tell everyone where we came from.. I really thought I would get the vehicle side ways across the road and then just be stuck… however pulled it off with the help of lisa making sure I did not reverse into any thing.
So we then found a chap, who after us telling him our whole life story, said he could help and lisa went in search of the camping area.. I stayed with the car… upon her return we decided democratically to get the hell out of Tabriz and bush camp..and it was getting dark.
We found a great site just off the main road with a little protection, awoke the next day refreshed and ready for Tehran….. OMG
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