Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 8

Mon. May 21 Isfahan
Miles 36
Despite all my scepticism we were up by 4.30 and John & Dereck were away by 5.30 leaving me on guard duty. I managed to follow their progress for a while then lost them. Spent the morning tidying up and doing odd jobs around the camp.
Figure 2.22: Isfahan
The others got back about noon so we had a brew and then went into town to have a look around. Lay on the grass in the square for awhile, then went inside the Shah Abbas Mosque.
The weather was overcast so we could not get any good photos. We will go back and try again tomorrow. Drove out of town and had a quick meal, then back to the pictures. Saw The Ten Commandments - in Farsi!
The one-time capitol of Persia. Famous for its town square, the Maidan I Shah, reputed to be the second largest in the world.
It was originally laid out as a polo arena, with stone goal posts still to be seen at either end. Along one side is the Shah’s grandstand; while on the other is the small ‘Ladies Mosque’. At the south end is the beautiful Shah Abbas Mosque, which is very rich in mosaic tiling.
All around the square are the silversmiths’ shops where one can see the work being done. I bought a small plaque, hand inscribed, depicting that stanza of Omar Khayam’s: “Here with a loaf of bread, beneath the bough-” 

Tues. May 22 Isfahan to Deh Bid
Miles 210
We were woken by the sun this morning so climbed out of our sleeping bags and lay on top of them sunbathing until about 7.30.
Had breakfast and drove into town where we were waylaid by a lot of schoolboys & ended up giving impromptu English lessons.
Went around the Shah Abbas Mosque again and took the photos we wanted. Did our shopping and then motored out on the road to Shiraz. 
Figure 2.23: Isfahan

Figure 2.24: Isfahan

Figure 2.25: Isfahan
Stopped about 6pm at a little oasis where we put up our camp beds on a small patch of grass, a very rare thing now. The scenery has been very impressive today, quite high mountain desert. Very wild.
Weather - hot & sunny

Wed. May 23 Deh Bid to Persepolis
Miles 78
Sunbathed after a freezing cold night.
Three nomads appeared with their string of mules, lit a fire, and brewed tea. They then invited us over, sat us down on cushions, and plied us with tea & bread. We opened a tin of cigarettes and passed them around. After photos we pressed on to Persepolis.
Figure 2.26: Nomads. Photo: John Ireland
We went a little way past the ruined city and found a swimming pool. It was really an irrigation tank but everybody uses them for swimming, washing, and anything else one needs water for - including us!
After a splash in the water we lay in the shade until about 4pm, by which time the sun had died down enough for us to breathe again.
We entered the ruined city and spent a couple of hours exploring and taking photos. The light was just right. 
Figure 2.27: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 2.28: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland
When we came back to our campsite, we had a quick splash in ‘our’ pool. Dereck was still in when a lorry load of people, including a lot of women, drew up. It was quite funny watching Dereck diving for his shorts.
Figure 2.29: Persepolis

Figure 2.30: Persepolis

Built about 500 b.c. as the spring capitol of Persia, then the greatest empire on earth. 20,000 skilled men worked on it for three generations.
Its reign as show palace of the world lasted about 200 years, then came Alexander the Great, and the systematic destruction of the city. No one knows why he did this, as it was not typical behaviour. 
Figure 2.31: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 2.32: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland
The ruins today are still on a vast scale with huge pillars & colossi, halls richly decorated with relief carvings depicting palace life. On the hillside behind the city there are tombs cut from the solid rock. The three kings responsible for building the city were Darius 1 (the Great), Xerxes, and Artaxerxes
Weather - very hot

Figure 2.33: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 2.34: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland

Figure 2.35: Persepolis. Photo: John Ireland

Thurs. May 24 Persepolis to Shiraz to Persepolis
Miles 89
Spent a lazy morning swimming and lazing about. John put a new diaphragm in the fuel pump. Left about noon and motored down to Shiraz across the Plain of Fars. Spent the afternoon stretched out in the public gardens, as it was too hot to do anything else.
Did our shopping, and then drove around just looking. Found our way to the Vakhil Mosque. While there we met a Persian student who spoke English and offered to show us around. We accepted gladly. He took us to see the tombs of Hafiz & Saadi, 2 poets much revered in Persia. Both shrines were really beautiful buildings, set in well-maintained gardens. Motored back to our water hole at Persepolis.
Weather - hot & sunny.

Fri. May 25 Persepolis to Sari Yezd
Miles 280
Quite an exciting day.
Up early, breakfast, packed and waited for the man to start the water flowing through the tank. As soon as he did, in we went, much to the amusement of the local watchers. Got away about 9 and motored north, back towards Isfahan.
We decided to take a short cut across the mountains & desert to save about 400 miles. It was a very impressive run. In places the surface of the desert was smoother than the road, so, we took to the desert. We reached the main Tehran to Pakistan highway about 6.30 and turned east once more.
We are camped tonight half in, and half out of a derelict building. Dereck is feeling out of sorts this evening & has been off his food for a couple of days now. The ‘doctor’ diagnosed salt deficiency and acted accordingly. The patient was given a cup of soup with a teaspoonful of salt added.
Today has been very hot & dry. Whilst crossing the desert this afternoon it was like a blast of air from an open oven door, with a strong wind, too. This has been real overlanding: Sand, riverbeds, potholes and places where you could hardly tell road from desert.
While stopped for a brew, a lorry drew up to see if we were o.k., quite a common occurrence. We ended up sharing our tea with the driver and his mate. Wonderful people, the Persians. We did our 7,000th mile today.
Weather - very hot indeed

Sat. May 26 Sari Yezd to Ramsinjan
Miles 148
Early start again. Dead flat desert & a corrugated gravel road. We are right away from the mountains now. Found an oasis in the form of a couple of houses surrounded by trees. One house turned out to be a kind of Persian transport café. Just past Ramsinjan we came across another deserted building so we stopped for tea.
The land rover has been overheating for the last few days and a discussion on why turned into quite an argument.
I said it was the removal of the thermostat. John disagreed. Eventually we got down to checking the fuel pump timing. Found it a bit out so reset it. Reset the tappets. Checked all water connections. Removed inlet & exhaust manifolds to check for carbon build-up. Drained and refilled the radiator. Changed the fuel filter & replaced the thermostat. We will see tomorrow. Conditions are quite wearing at the moment with extremely hot winds. We still have at least 2 more days driving to get to Zahedan.
Weather - HOT

Sun. May 27 Ramsinjan to Bam
Miles 223
Today we drove past hell, and as we did, somebody opened the door! That is what it felt like, anyway.
To try to beat the heat, we got up at 5.30 and hit the road at 6.30. Arrived in Kerman at 8.30 and it was already hot. Met a young boy who spoke very good English. He took me around the shops to see that we did not get robbed.
At a place called Mahun we stopped to visit and photograph a beautiful mosque & shrine dedicated to King Namrullah, buildings about 500yrs old. The beautiful tree-filled gardens, with fountains & flowers flanking the mosque were much appreciated after 2 or 3 hundred miles of desert driving.
Figure 2.36: Kerman

Figure 2.37: Kerman

On leaving Mahun, we came across an American motorcyclist who was broken down. Our mechanic soon had him going again. Drove on to Bam and the wind got hotter & hotter. Drove out on the road to Zahedan, found a campsite & stopped.
John Apgar arrived and we cooked up. The wind still blew hot. We tried to sleep on top of our sleeping bags & got bitten to death by mosquitoes. What a bloody day this has been. To cap it all we had a row with a café owner over the price of coke!
Weather – HOT

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