Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 7

Mon. May 14 Tehran to Quom
Miles 124
Spent the morning looking for a public bath house and eventually enlisted the aid of a high-ranking officer of SAVAK (the Shar’s much-feared secret police) who lent us his land rover plus driver to take us there in style.
Had a marvellous bath & managed to get all our washing done, all for about 5 shillings for all of us.
Went back to the Rover depot and packed up prior to leaving. The clutch and the brakes have been relined, a new oilite bush has been fitted to the clutch withdrawal shaft, and the vehicle has been cleaned and serviced. The bill was 12pounds 10 shillings. Very reasonable.
So with renewed confidence, we motored out on the road to Quom & Isfahan. We turned off the main road and started to pitch tents when a sudden storm blew up out of nowhere and blew just about everything not tied down, away. It died away just as quickly as it had arrived allowing us to retrieve most of our possessions.
Weather - hot & sunny

Tues. May 15 Near Qom to Tehran
Miles 335
What a day!
Drove into Qom this morning and tried to get into the most sacred shrine of Fatima the Chaste. Angry Moslems barred the way so we desisted. A French-speaking police officer told us all we needed to know and guided us to a place safely out of town where we could get a good photo of the mosque. We had already taken this shot so we had to pretend! Qom is the second most holy city in Persia, the first being Meshed.

Figure 2.17: Quom
Drove to within 90 miles of Isfahan, stopped for lunch, and there it was again – oil leaking from the gearbox. Back we went to Tehran.
Tried to take a short-cut but it ended up being a lot further through a place called Saveh. We are now camped just outside the city.
All day we have been driving through mountainous desert country. Very dry and dusty. Also very frustrating having to go all that way back but we simply dare not head out into the Dasht I lut in a vehicle that is less than 100%.
Weather - mixed but mainly sunny. Sleeping without tents for the first time.

Wed. May 16 Tehran to Chalus
Miles 189
Up dead early and into the service depot and they were not very pleased to see us. Left the Landrover & went into town, first to the bathhouse and then to get our visas extended. They have given us an extra week so we have decided to make tracks north to the Caspian Sea for a couple of days. This will enable us to test the Landrover without having to backtrack.
Met 2 English lads at the Embassy who had just hitch-hiked from U.K. They are going to Australia and had good weather in Yugoslavia.
Got the vehicle back about 5 and drove from Tehran to Karadj where we turned off into the Elburz Mts. We crossed these by way of the Qurug Pass which was quite the most spectacular road I have ever travelled with a summit of about 6,500 ft.
This was followed by a long descent to the village of Chalus on the shores of the Caspian Sea, which is 92 ft below sea level. Did not bother with tents again – just camp beds on the beach. Did our 6000th mile today and finally ‘sacked’ the roof rack, or rather, what was left of it!
Weather - hot & sunny
Thurs. May17  Chalus
Miles 10
A day of rest.
Woke about 6a.m. with the sun on our faces so we crawled out of our sleeping bags and lay on top of them until about 7.30. After breakfast we went in for a swim – water lovely. Came out, read, loafed, swam again.
Mended our 3rd puncture. John put 2 new oil seals in the rear hubs, cleaned the glow plugs and removed the thermostat.
Went into Chalus to do some shopping and had a most enjoyable curry this evening followed by jam-roll & rice pudding – our first dessert this trip. To compensate, we did without soup. Tonight the moon is about 24hrs away from full. The last time it was like that we were on the shores of another sea: the Aegean, and it wasn’t quite as warm as this!
Weather - hot & sunny
Figure 2.18: Chalus
Fri. May 18 Chalus
Miles 0
Woke at about 5.30. a.m. to find it raining. Thought it would only be slight so just pulled the fly-sheet over my head and dropped off again. Woke again about 7, soaked, and it was still raining.
Gave up and went and sat in the land rover. Spent the rest of the day attacking the world record for landrover sitting.
Weather - wet & horrible. In fact, just like Wales.

Sat. May 19 Chalus to Tehran
Miles 181
Woke to rain again but it was starting to clear by the time we were ready to move. Drove to the village and loaded up with fuel. Then started off up the Guruk.Pass. That is the most impressive road I have ever travelled. Fantastic gorge scenery followed by a terrific series of hairpin bends to gain the necessary height. The top of the pass is a tunnel just over a mile long.
Figure 2.19: Guruk Pass

2.20: Guruk Pass

Figure 2.21: Guruk Pass.
Got in to Tehran about 3p.m. and eventually had to wait until 6.30 for our passports. We now have another 2 weeks.
Met 2 English lads in a Bedford Dormobile who are en route to Australia by the same route as us.
Drove about 20 miles out of Tehran and are camping by an old, ruined building. We have just had quite a violent thunderstorm. Full moon tonight.
Weather - warm & misty 
Woke to find we had had visitors during the night. Our old, moth-eaten roof rack cover had disappeared along with the box containing our supply of soups and lemonade powder, which had been carelessly left under the land rover. Hope it chokes them!!

Sun. May 20 Tehran to Isfahan
Miles 230
On the road early again. Sun very hot this morning. Just outside Quom we found a river and had a bath, changed into shorts, washed some gear, and headed south again. The river water was warmer than the air temperature, and that was not exactly cool.
We are camping just about 10 miles outside Isfahan all ready to go in the morning.
Today has been our hottest day yet, and we even managed to boil the radiator. We are still losing oil from the gearbox. We have given up hope of getting it fixed properly out here, so we are going to try and limp to Australia. There is quite a fine rock peak overlooking our camp site and there has been some wild talk about climbing it tomorrow.
Weather - hot & dry