Apr 24

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

by in Iran

What a difference it makes to be back in control again. After saying goodbye to Yashi and having no police escorts I’m relishing taking things a bit easier. While we had the police with us I wasn’t able to stop as often when I wanted to monitor the oil usage and instead had to just keep topping it up to ensure the engine didn’t suffer. It’s hard on a bike this old, but I’ve been amazed at just how she continues to tick over when she’s not under pressure. I’d been using 1 litre of oil every 200 kms when I had an escort but have been able to reduce that to 1 litre to 300 kms and may even achieve better than that in the coming weeks. But oil and sand don’t mix and the image shows just what Effie had to deal with.

I spent a few days in the ancient city of Bam where more than twenty-six thousand people were killed and additional thirty thousand were injured in the devastating earthquake in 2003. How does a population recover from a tragedy this monumental? I wandered around the old city but only got to see about 1/20th of it due to so much being unstable. There’s a great deal of scaffolding everywhere and it is expected to take until 2012 before the restoration is complete. The beautiful mudbrick walls of the castle look like something out of the Arabian Nights and I can only imagine how wonderful it used to be and hopefully will be again.

At Akbar’s Guesthouse, Mohammed, Akbar’s son kindly arranged to have my panniers repaired as the stitching was coming apart and despite being ill Mohammed was a generous host. I’m carrying a gift of delicious yellow dates that have been my first real treat in weeks. I’m savouring every one but hopefully there’ll be a few left to share with Lynne when she arrives. Before I set off from Bam, heading towards Kerman, I packed a few bread rolls and half a dozen boiled eggs to see me through the day, a very wise move as it turned out.

The only problems I’ve experienced on the road in recent days has been with crazy motorcyclists who dart in front of Effie without indicating. Shades of Bali & India. Other road users are courteous and people I meet off road are extremely kind and generous. An example was when I pulled into one gas station. A customer paid for my fuel and the petrol station owner took me inside and made me a cup of tea. He then handed me two watermelons. I understand that it may be considered impolite to refuse a gift in some cultures, but where the heck was I going to put two watermelons? It took a good deal of gesturing to explain to my host that I was already overloaded and that on this occasion I had to refuse his kind offer.

I’ve found having a note written in Farsi helps with explaining the basic things a little. On one side it tells all about the bike & where I’m from, then on the other side the note asks where I can fill up my bike with petrol. Perhaps it should also say, “Sorry, I’ve no room left for watermelons.”

After having a tyre blow out in India, I’ve been worried the replacement tyre wouldn’t last, but it’s already done well in excess of 3000kms and still has a 1/3 of the rubber left on it. If all goes well I’ll get at least to Tehran before I need to change to a new one. Knowing there are spares waiting to be delivered when I give Thomas in Germany the nod is definitely a weight off my mind. The only spokes that have broken in recent weeks have been the original ones that were on the bike when I left Australia. The spokes I had made up in Pakistan are proving much stronger, so any that break are gradually being replaced – one less thing to worry about, again thanks to the support of friends.

I should have altered the jet in the carburettor before leaving Bam as the desert road climbed steadily and mountains were covered in snow, making it increasingly cold. So cold I had to stop and don thermal underwear when the layers of clothing I had on weren’t doing the job. Twenty kilometers from Kerman I camped in an abandoned building Yashi had told me about. It made for an interesting night under the stars & I was thankful for a snug sleeping bag.

In Kerman, I met up with Ali. He and his friends were fantastic tour guides. We drove out into the desert for a picnic. Despite the freezing winds we huddled together under blankets to enjoy our meal. The fact that these lovely young people would brave the weather for this old bloke was very moving.

I was taken to visit the beautiful and renowned Shazdeh gardens. The tradition and style of Persian gardens have had an enormous influence throughout the world, the most well-known being the Taj Mahal. With pavilions, waterways, fountains, ponds, courtyards and placement of trees, it really is, as the common Iranian name for enclosed space suggests, – ‘pari-daiza’     (a paradise).  I took the opportunity to try the peach flavoured hookah, so popular amongst Iranians, and while the experience of being seated in private ‘smoking rooms’ with friends was really enjoyable, the hookah itself wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

I also got to see a fascinating adobe ice-house which by being filled with ice and snow fetched on horse carts from the mountains, was previously used to preserve food. The wonderful old bazaar in Kerman was a maze of passages beneath intricately domed ceilings.  Although it now features modern goods like watches and sunglasses, there are still some interesting items used by locals such as huge copper pots.

Between Kerman and Yazd the brown desert landscape was much the same as I’d experienced all the way. One night was spent in what I thought was a truck stop. When the owner closed up for the night he gave me the key and said to give it to whoever was first in, in the morning. How’s that for hospitality? But I didn’t know whether to laugh or run for my life when another man, who spoke some English asked me to his house. He explained that his mother had no husband and would like some pleasure. Suffice to say there was a good deal of laughter from the gathered crowd. What was I missing out on? I’d been presented with some interesting gifts in recent days, and again it might have been impolite, but this was one offer even I had to refuse!

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14 Responses to “Looking a gift horse in the mouth”

  1. From Bert Izaks:

    What a great journey.
    How many friends do you have after this challenge.
    And with a FN.
    After 1 meter push and then the sound of a 4-cylinder, switch the gear, drive shaft without the clattering sounds of a chain, it seems great.
    My FN (1912) misses only 3 cylinders.
    Planes arrive the Netherlands at the village Rekken.
    What would it be nice if you also comes into the Netherlands at Rekken.
    I can catch you, because I live within 10 km of Rekken.
    Greetings and I follow you.

    Posted on July 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Bert

      Yes, have made many friends along the way. Would be good to meet up with those who’ve been following the blog but time will dictate just how far I can travel. So are you still restoring your 1912 FN, or joking when you say it misses 3 cylinders? Would like to meet up with you in Bernkastel if you’re going to the FN rally – should be a great event.

      Thanks for following the blog.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on July 20, 2012 at 5:21 am #
  2. From mehmet avar:

    Dear Friend,
    One of our friends runs a hotel in Do?ubeyaz?t that is border town with ?ran…He would like to host you when you enter Turkey…welknown guy in the town and sure will be most helpful to you.Here is his contact details…
    Mr.Erkan Sedef
    Hotel Ararat

    Hotel ARARAT
    Belediye Caddesi
    Tel: 0472-312-49-88
    Fax: 0472-312-25-23

    Lets keep in touch…we would like to be beside you wherever or whenever you inform us.We also wish to ride the last stage to istanbul together and planning to meet you personally in Düzce about 2 hours ride to ?stanbul…(Sorry by our bikes!!)..
    Wish you all the best…

    Posted on May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Mehmet good friend

      Thanks for all the info and great support. Looking forward to meeting up with you and other Turkish motorcyclists in a few weeks time. The ride into Istanbul with you all sounds like fun. You’ll know once I’ve crossed the border. My friend Omar in Pakistan sends his greetings to you (via my wife who was there with him recently).

      Take care and hope you’re getting to enjoy lots of riding yourself.


      Posted on May 13, 2012 at 11:50 am #
  3. From John Galvin:

    Hi Ron, been following you on a regular basis. I`m amazed at your stamina and determination. Keep on biking and blogging. Hope the going gets a bit easier in the comming months. Really looking forward the meeting up with you in Germany. I will drive up to the north so our routes cross. All the best, John

    Posted on May 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi John
      Good to hear you’re enjoying following the blog. I think the going will definitely get easier from here-on. I’m past halfway I reckon. Enjoying Iran despite recent mishap. Good lesson learned though. Look forward to seeing you one of these days. Keep in touch.


      Posted on May 13, 2012 at 11:31 am #
  4. From Andre Heylen:

    Hey, Old Bloke. I’m following your adventures with interest for some while. Wish you a safe yourney. I live in Belgium and understand you are heading this way. If I could be of any help, just let me known. I used to ride a CZ bike (125cc) and a ZUNDAPP (250cc) in my young years. Reading your diary pumps up my bloodpressure. Don’t know which place you have reached by now? Whish you plaesant miles.
    Take care!

    Posted on April 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Andre
      Sorry for the delay in responding. Had a bit of trouble with gear being stolen & have had to get it replaced – a bit challenging in a big city when you dont know your way around. Almost got it all together. I’m now in Tehran doing some sightseeing before heading on to Turkey. Thanks for your kind offer to assist in any way. Have friends in Australia who recently brought a war issue Zundapp back from Germany. Hope you’re enjoying reading the blog and don’t let it affect your blood pressure. I’m having way too much fun (between the challenges).

      Maybe will see you in Belgium. Cheers.

      Posted on May 13, 2012 at 11:27 am #
  5. From wal haylock:

    hello ron nice to khow that you are getting along o’k and still on the go also to know that the bike is also performing well and helped by your expertise sounds as though iran has all things which you might require i certainly admire the effort you are putting in all the best
    kind regards wal

    Posted on April 28, 2012 at 10:54 am #
  6. From Di:

    Hi Ron, its nice to hear that things have improved on the road, not having to stop and repair all the time must be quite a change for you.
    Spoke to Lynne yesterday and she is looking forward to catching up and spending time with you again. Am enjoying your photos.

    Posted on April 28, 2012 at 1:50 am #
  7. From Mark:

    Hi Dad. I love getting your updates. I dream of being able to do this when the kids grow up and I can just ride off on a trip like yours.
    It’s amazing the warmth of all the people you come across. It’s something that countries like ours could learn from. Keep enjoying your ride. I’m sure you have so many more pleasures ahead. Love you and so proud. Love Alb

    Posted on April 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hey Alb

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog as much as I’m enjoying the ride. Just don’t leave it til you’re nearly seventy to do anything this crazy!
      Love to you, Kahren and the boys.
      Dad & Pop x

      Posted on April 29, 2012 at 11:13 am #
  8. From Omar:

    Hi Ron,
    Nice to know your trip is going fine.
    Iranians have a very fine and subtle sense of humor and someone appears to be kidding with you.
    Now that you are nearing Tehran may I remind you not to miss the Caspian area and have lots of Caviar, getting a bit jealous!

    Posted on April 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Omar

      LOL, yes, I thought that might be the case. Especially judging by all the laughter.

      Down to one spare spoke now after losing 7 a few days back. Have just changed the back tyre so should be okay til I meet up with Lynne. I didn’t realise Tehran was so close to the Caspian til you mentioned it so will definitely check the area out…and the caviar too! Now I’ve come so far there’s plenty to celebrate.
      Take care my friend,


      Posted on April 29, 2012 at 10:55 am #

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