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Just one bad apple…

For the most part, whatever I heard previously about Iran, has proved untrue. It’s a beautiful country with very generous and kindhearted people who’ve paid for petrol, done repairs for free, given me small donations, cups of tea, and lots of warm smiles. Between the populated areas there’s mainly desert, but each city is a green oasis with gardens, trees and lovely parks. The architecture, bazaars and places to visit are fascinating.

I spent a few nights in Yazd and met up with Roemer & Lisan a couple riding from the Netherlands. We walked the town for 4 hours in the search for a local icecream shop. I wanted to try rosewater icecream but either I couldn’t make myself understood or rosewater was off the menu because that’s not what we ended up with. It was really great to chat to another couple about their adventure and compare notes.

There wasn’t a great deal to stay longer for so on Thurs 26th we parted company with me heading west and Lisan & Roemer riding to Pakistan. From Yazd I had a reasonably good run until 80 kms before Nain on the way to Isfahan. Then, another blowout. The back tyre sidewall collapsed causing the bike to weave all over the road. Each time this has happened I’ve been lucky I didn’t end up in the path of oncoming traffic. As a result seven spokes were broken and it took 3 hours to replace the tyre, true up the wheel and replace the spokes. On the front wheel is a 30 year old tyre still hanging in there. Because it is very light in the front there is no pressure on it like the back wheel.

I managed to get 3500 kms out of the back tyre this time, more than I’d expected, so I can’t complain. Too tired and too late to continue I spent the night sleeping in a concrete drain. Not the most comfortable of places but sheltered and when you’re knackered I find you can sleep just about anywhere. At 2,200 metres it was pretty cold and I was grateful for a warm sleeping bag and mattress.

Next morning after seeing oil on the ground a closer inspection revealed a broken oil pipe to the engine. Only 11 kms into Toudeshk  and Mohammed Jalali opened up his shop to make me a new pipe – all as good as new in no time, and he wouldn’t accept payment. Mohammad runs the Tak –Taku Homestay, a legendary place when it comes to accommodation. Mohammad was a fantastic host and guide, giving me a great insight into the area and village life.

By May 1st I’d reached Isfahan, a city I really enjoyed. It’s attractively laid out with tree-lined boulevards, numerous parks, gardens and bridges, national monuments, mosques and interesting architecture.

At the Amir Kabir Hostel I met up with Laura & Adrian from Romania, a nice young couple who passed on some good information about their country. That’s the great thing about meeting other travellers along the way – you get the best information firsthand.

I’d heard Kashan was worth visiting but when I arrived there were thousands of visitors in town for a festival and there was no accommodation available. Everywhere was a sea of people filled with campers, including the road edges, parks, in fact anywhere there was a space big enough to lay down. One night was about all I could cope with and I moved on to about 50 kms outside Tehran hoping to sit it out for a few days before Lynne arrived from Pakistan. It gets tiring camping in open spaces where passersby always want to talk, so when I found a private spot behind a supermarket away from view I thought I could remain there undisturbed. Unfortunately I’d been noticed. While I was in the supermarket only a few metres away, the tent was slashed, and the majority of my gear stolen, including spare parts, panniers, petrol containers, backpack and other essentials, including some hidden cash.

It’s never a good feeling to be taken advantage of, and being robbed is particularly nasty. I guess I’d let my guard down after so many positive experiences over the past few months. Twelve hours in police stations being shunted between one place to another didn’t do anything to how I was feeling and the outcome didn’t prove worth all the hassle. And, much of what was taken isn’t of any use to anyone. It is unlikely that any of my stuff will be recovered so it’s time to move on.

As unpleasant and inconvenient as it’s been, the reality is that I’m okay and the bike’s fine. I plan to enjoy the rest of the journey despite this setback. If there’s any lingering concern it is only that I now have no bike spares, so fingers crossed there won’t be a need for them any time soon.

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