Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 9 - end of part 2

Mon. May 28 Bam to Mirjawa
Miles 361 (best yet)
On the road by 6.30 and drove like hell all morning to Zahedan.
Weather getting hotter again, this same hot, dry wind that really gets you down. Loaded fuel & food had a brew, and then set out on the road to the Pakistan frontier.
Drove nearly 60 miles and then discovered we were on the wrong road - our first wrong turn in over 7000 miles. Back to Zahedan & then on to Mirjawa, by the right road this time! We are camped for the night in the courtyard of the Iranian customs post, and will cross the border tomorrow.
Weather - HOT again!

Tues. May 29 Mirjawa to Dalhlbandin
Miles 209
Up early and after a solid hour spent mucking about with police & customs finally got on the road to Nok Kundi - very frustrating! By the time we got there the day was red hot. Went through the usual formalities and found the rest house.
Also found 3 girls in a land rover (as it was predicted we would do by the more ribald elements in our circle of friends!!)
Decided to spend the rest of the day making tea and trying to keep cool. By 5.p.m., although not much cooler we set off and drove non-stop to Dalhbandin. Had tea, bought fuel, & waited for the girls. When they came back we all adjourned to the teahouse.
We then got a message from John Apgar that he was broken down just up the road. We went back & got him going again while the girls made hot drinks. Drove just out of town and camped on the desert. Chased a huge spider around but could not catch it. Probably just as well. Plenty of dust devils today. We have been seeing them all across the desert.
Weather - very hot

Wed. May 30 Dalhbandin to Quetta
Miles 245
Up at 5.30. The girls did not bother with breakfast, but just drove off.
We followed with John Apgar about an hour later. Drove to Nuski where we stopped for lemonade. Off again & then non-stop to Quetta.
The last 40 miles into town was covered in an almost continuous dust storm, which is still blowing. We have established ourselves in the railway retiring room. Went out for a meal and had the worst chicken curry that I have ever had.
We wandered around for a while, then we met a Pakistani who asked us if we had met the girls yet. He then took us up to their hotel and we spent the evening talking, eating melons, and drinking soup. Met an Australian couple who were doing the trip by scooter! However, they gave up in Southern Persia & finished the trip by lorry.
Weather - hot & dusty

Part 3: Quetta to Singapore
Thurs. May 31 Quetta to Jacobabad
Miles 222
Had a lie in till 9.30 this morning. It was beautifully cool at nearly 5,500 ft. Wandered down to the hotel that the girls were staying at and chatted & stretched in the cool.
Spent the early afternoon shopping and drove away from Quetta at about 4pm and headed down the Bolan Gorge through most impressive scenery.
Lower down we went swimming, twice, in really good rock pools. Met up with the girls and Yankee John at the second one. Continued on down the Gorge to the Indus Plain where it was really hot.
Drove to Jacobabad and found the circuit house, a palatial place. We had a suite of rooms to ourselves including showers, a kitchen, and even a fridge. Turned in at about 1am. under a big electric fan. The girls had a breakdown today, no petrol.
Weather - hot & dusty to hot & humid.
Figure 3.1: Jacobabad

Fri. June 1 Jacobabad to Panjnal
Miles 260
A very early start, up at 4.30 and on the road by 5.30. Nobody had slept very much anyway on account of the heat. Drove to Sukkur where we parted from John Apgar. He is going down to Karachi, while we are heading north to Lahore. Later on we had a stop and when we left, the girls were having a difference of opinion - so we left them to it. 
Figure 3.2: Sukkur
We drove on & on, getting sweatier & sweatier until we reached the R.Indus again at Panjnal and there was the magic sign 'rest house'. In we went and installed ourselves.
The bearer brewed tea & fetched water for us to bathe in and bathe we did. Then we stretched out and relaxed for a short time until the girls arrived. All is well. Bloody good company, these girls. Spent the evening trying to keep cool.
Weather hot & humid.
Sat. June 2 Panjnal to Montgomery
Miles 210
Up fairly late and on the road by 10 A.M. Drove halfway to Multan and stopped to eat a huge melon by the roadside. Then drove to Multan, did our shopping, changed money, and then pressed on.
Found a quiet little spot just below Montgomery, on the banks of a canal, where we could brew up and eat melons in peace, while sitting in the shade. Got to Montgomery & found the rest house. We had to get permission to use this one! It is very smooth with shower, fans ― the lot.
Weather - hot.

Sun. June 3 Montgomery to Lahore
Miles 187
After our best night’s sleep for ages, got moving about 8 am. and drove to Lahore. After centuries of British influence, everything was shut on Sunday, and this in a Muslim country!
Drove nearly 80 miles looking for a place to kip, tried the circuit house, boy scouts, Y.M.C.A., railway stations and eventually penetrated the dwelling of the British Commissioner. 
Figure 3.3: British High Commission
He, at first, said we could stay there but later found that he had got his wires crossed & we couldn’t.
However, after an ice-cold BEER, our first since Ankara! He told us to try the Salvation Army. We did and they gave us use of a bathroom & permission to sleep in the grounds. Very nice, too.
Weather - hot & sticky.

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