Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bad Hijab Day!

Photo borrowed from Andy's facebook (Nicks group)!
I arrived at the Iranian border hot, tired and a little agitated!Not a good state of mind to arrive if it can be helped as there is a lot to deal with once you cross that line.

I hate feeling rushed and this was the case today.  I had been overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains, missed my turn and gone 20 miles before noticing my mistake. GPS down and relying on checking my map and road signs, I just carried on. It could have been worse. Initially I thought I had gone 40 miles out!

My ride from Van was otherwise uneventful despite my concerns. I was nervous for the first 40 miles having been warned not to take this route as apparently the mountains were full of  Kurdish PKK militants who were known to stop people on the road and at best demand money. I chose to ignore the warning and ride on through, knowing that several people did use this route on a daily basis and I guessed it would would be particularly unlucky to have any trouble.

Click here for video diary

I found it to be heavily patrolled by the armed forces with tanks, trucks, check points and even helicopters and so I carried on, reassured that I had back up! The road was fairly quiet otherwise and the mountain views were stunning.

The border crossing was small and the gate was locked with a long queue of vehicles waiting outside. I rode to the front (bikers prerogative! It's worked every time so far) and instantly drew the attention of the officer on the other side without even trying! A woman on her own on a motorbike wanting to come in to Iran? Not an every day occurrence it seems. The gates were opened and in I went. The point of no return.

After some initial confusion and my desperate attempts to look good in a silk balaclava (and failing), I came across Hossein, my host from Hosseins Biker Guest House, where I would stay for a couple of days and get my bearings. Hossein made the process very easy and so after half an hour of running back and forth between desks, having my finger prints taken and using my first Carnet De Passage (another milestone), I was in! The Islamic Republic of Iran! I'd actually made it! This called for an.....OMG!!!!

The next morning I found myself with my Hajib and my long sleeve top in town with Hossein, listening to the tannoy above. Hossein explained that it was the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei's voice, bellowing out rants about England. I was already feeling like people were staring and had wondered if I was being paranoid. Hossein, at this point, whilst listening to these rants and surrounded by disapproving looks, tells me it is because my top is too short. Oh dear! Someone swallow me up! I suggested we find a clothes shop and quickly! I suddenly felt naked! This was a bizarre situation as my top was in no way revealing. It was just 2 inches too short at worst and boy did they notice!
me and my revealing top!
Money was my next issue. What a nightmare! It is so confusing! In fact so much so that I am going to save the explaining of that one for another day, once I fully understand it! This may take some time!

The most unusual social behaviour I have come across so far is "Taarof".  Now several travellers had said to me before I left

"Iranians are so wonderful that they don't let you pay for anything. Not even at fuel stations"

I thought this was brilliant! It was going to be a cheap month in Iran. Then I was told that actually I had to insist on paying 3 times and if they still refused then I was free to leave without paying for the goods.
During my "appropriate" top buying, Hossein explained this process to me and it turns out that "Taarof" does not have a set amount of refusal times. You have to keep insisting until they take the money. This will happen everywhere I go! It would seem then,  that many travellers have been getting this very wrong in the past in their misunderstanding of this process! These poor shopkeepers must think Ali Khamenei has a point! Oops! You live and learn, although you have to admit it seems a little unusual (for want of a better word) if the intention is always to accept the money in the end.

Now for the Hijab. After lots of faffing and adjusting and worrying that my Hijab was still in place, I
suddenly remembered my lovely friend, Jenny, had sent me away with an emergency pack which included stockings (good old Jen! Turns out they are great for filtering fuel), paperclips, lacci bands and hair grips! Ah! hair grips! Perfect. Another problem overcome, although I have no idea how all these beautiful Iranian ladies keep theirs in place as I see no one else with grips! Practice I guess. Now for the ultimate test. Take a fair ground ride and see if it stays in place! It did!
Top? Tick. Money? Still working on it. Hijab? Tick!

Slowly but surely I am getting the hang of Iran thanks to Hossein, Google and Jenny's emergency hair grips!

Tonight I meet with my dad and Nick Sanders, change my tyres (which they kindly carried on their support truck), get my dad to fix my GPS and pay for a nice hotel room with them (daughters eh!) and then ride with the group to Sanandaj tomorrow, before saying goodbye and going our separate ways.

Rhonda still looking good!



Details of Hosseins Biker guest house can be found here www.beyadeshahidan.wix.com/hosseinsguesthouse

Please note my Bike Trac no longer works in Iran and I will attempt to switch to Spot tracker for tracking. Details to follow.














29 comments:

  1. Steph - to keep the hijab in place, apparently you wear a cap underneath, as well as pin it. See this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j0aLZXsy1w
    Say hello to Dad for me!! Mum x

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    1. Thanks Mum although some of them seem to just float on their heads! No structure!! Dad arrived. Late as usual! They all seem in good spirits. Just had dinner and all off to bed. Dad is going to look at my GPS tomorrow and then we ride and camp tomorrow night. Hoping to get my tyres changed then too while I have 15 blokes handy!!!!! All good! Speak soon xxx

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  2. Wow! You are in! I got stuck in Yerevan for a few days, I just like it to much, haha! But I hope to enter Iran on monday... ish...
    Hope to meet you! Enjoy!!

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    1. Hiya mate! Glad you're having fun. Dan is in Iraq now I believe! If you can help it dont change money at the border and....well I guess the blog sums up the rest! See you there xxx

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  3. Glad your in Iran safely keep safe and posting xx

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  4. Hi Steph, you girls and your short tops! Tut tut tut. Hey Mum you took your eye off the ball there - surely "lacci" (tie or lace in italian) has to be worth a rap on the knuckles - especially without the hint of an apostrophe or two - must be as bad a tor?oise with only one "T". Steph give my regards to your Dad. U Kev

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    1. Hi U Kev. I call it poetic licence! : 0 ) Dad is doing well. spent a day and a bit with them all before going our separate ways. Not sure how he will feel about it all after 7weeks on the road but so far so good! : 0 ). Hope you're well xxx

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  5. Hi Steph,

    I've been following your journey since you bought Rhonda last fall. Two weeks prior, I had purchased the same bike and stumbled upon your site when reading about the CRF250L. Glad I did, it's been great reading about your adventures. Wishing you all the best from Canada!

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    1. Thanks very much Tim. How's yours going? Rhonda, as you can see, is holding out really well so far. Lets hope I can say the same by the time I get to your neck of the woods x

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  6. Best blog yet. Great reading Steph. XXX

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  7. Hi Steph. I have been following you from previous blog. It was a real pleasure to see you on this Super adventure. My name is Eric and I am from Gurgaon near Delhi ( India ). Do you have any plans to touch Gurgaon or Delhi. Best wishes and take care. Eric Bakhtawar

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  8. I like your style adventure, keep riding safe Steph!!!

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  9. Every day is a learning day, when you're around Steph.
    Loving the reports.
    Keep them coming :)

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  10. Lovely photo of you Steph, and you found another use for the sarong!
    I just caught up on your video diaries, sailing to Antartica…..amazing. It's one of my passions if you need crew :)
    Riding round the world - tick. Learning to sail - tick. Go you - tick.
    Great blogs and videos, lots of warmth and fun, and technology working like a dream. Stay safe and sound. Lisa x

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    1. Hey Lisa. Always good to hear from you. Yep. The Sarong is doing me proud! Yes got a lift sorted. Just need the funds now but I'm working on it! I'm very nervous of the Drake Passage but hey ho. It has to be worth it! xxx

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  11. PS Rhonda the Honda looks fantastic!

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  12. Hi Steph
    I wrote and you kindly replied about a week ago around Goreme which I did in '71 in a bus. You must be a reincarnation of me as I now see you did Morocco too which I did in a Land Rover in'70 - Fez, Meknes over the High Atlas into the edge of Sahara and back via Marrakech -great. We crossed into Iran a bit further north (Maku) than you, then onto Tabriz and Tehran which was v westernised then: the Shah was still in power. We found the Iranians lovely people - they must still be the same though outwardly changed because of the Muslim thing. I see you have plenty of back-up (dad) which is good news - if we wanted news from home we had to get a letter sent to Poste Restante in the next big city.Best, John Fletcher (Hereford, only 4 mls from Wales!)

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    1. Hello again John. It would seem I am following in your footsteps. Dad has gone again now. It was by chance that our paths crossed while he was support driving for a Nick Sanders tour. We hoped they might and he brought my spare tyres in that hope. Cant believe I actually got them and it was good timing too. Good to hear from you John x

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  13. We have some of the most wonderful adv riders, scenery, and food avialble in the States in Northwest Arkansas. Please keep us in mind as you travel to the US.
    And god bless you on each day's travel.

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    1. Thanks Chris. Seems like such a long way off but it will be here before I know it Im sure. See you soon x

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  14. Looking good Steph, my CRF250 with 400 miles on the clock got stolen from my garage on the weekend here in sunny Wales. Insurance company very understanding they might replace it fingers crossed. Don't forget to lock yours up. What sort of security have you got?

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    1. Sorry to hear that Travis. Rhonda got knicked in Wales before I left but I was lucky enough to get her back. Hope you are too x

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  15. Hi steph,
    Really enjoying reading your blog. its great to see that people all over the world from different cultures are interested in what your doing and want to help, even if its only a small thing like a brew. Stay safe and keep smiling!

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  16. Great blog! Its like a mini history lesson!

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