Iran: Exit

I am jumping the gun a little here with my posts on Iran but I really wanted to get these photos up.

Here are some portraits of the guys that I shared the cabin with on the Train from Tabriz (Iran) to Van (Turkey). These guys were very friendly but unfortunately none of us could speak each others languages. I wish i had made more of an effort to learn some Farsi!

As far as I could tell a few of these guys had bought a lot of cigarettes in Iran and were bringing them into Turkey to make some bucks 🙂

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Iran: Tehran pt2, Rasht & Tabriz

With Yolly off to Turkey and Tobi making his way to India (either “hitchhiking” a container ship from Bandar Abbas or flying from Dubai) it was time for me to start to make my way towards Turkey.

I took the overnight bus from Shiraz to Tehran, checked back into the Mashad Hotel on Amir Kabir street and spent the day checking out the Golestan Palace and the Grand Bazaar.

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The museums in the palace are definitely worth a look – you can either pay per museum (about 4000 rials each) or get a ticket to see them all. I have never seen such a reflective bunch of rooms – so many mirrors! Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any photos in the main palace part (sorry forgot the name!), but did get some in the other museums.

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The grand bazaar is indeed grand, couldn’t say if it was on the scale of JJ market in Bangkok, but it could be. I met some guys who owned a carpet shop but wasn’t forced to buy one. I think I might actually have some basic knowledge of person carpets now after the amount I have seen 🙂

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I only spent the night in Tehran and jumped a bus from the east terminal to Rasht. Why Rasht? To go see the Caspian Sea. I had intended to check out the town of Masouleh which I’d heard a lot of good things about but in the end ran out of enthusiasm to get there. I met 2 lads in my hotel who were keen to show me a bit around Rasht and took me to check out the Caspian Sea. We also stopped in at Bandar-e Anzali which would be a great place to spend some time in the summer.
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I was lucky enough to catch up with Tim who I met in Yazd – he’d been exploring a fair amount of the NW of Iran and also managed to get taken in by the police for taken some photos (he said they eventually let him go and it was just a formality!).

After Rasht I bussed it to my last stop in Iran – Tabriz.

Tabriz is cool.

I arrived in Tabriz at about 4:30am and most of the cheap hotels were shut or full so I splashed out and spent 4 times by 50,000 rials/night budget. Money not well spent.
Whilst checking some emails I bumped into Yann the Frenchman who had ridden his $300 mountain bike 18,000+ kms from Singapore to Iran and was continuing on back to France. What a journey!


I ended up meeting 3 great people by the names of Babak, Reza & Amir – Reza runs the cafe net and Babak & Amir are his mates. Pretty much spent my whole time in Tabriz hanging out with these chaps. They took me out the see a bunch of places, got up early to meet me for breakfast at the local breakfast place, and didn’t let me pay for anything! When they make it to Australia one day I said I’d get the bill.

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blog from the Trans-Asya Expressi


5pm, 12th February, 2009

I made it. Well at least onto the Trans-Asya Expressi train that is. From here, Kayseri (Turkey), it’s a 49+ hour journey to Tehran. Today turned out to be pretty cool. I managed to wakeup as planned @ 6.30 this morning, the bus from Goreme was only 30 mins behind schedule. When I got to Kayseri I a shuttle bus from the otogar took me to the wrong side of town. 3 kms walk later I made it to the train station, got a ticket (82 Turkish lira or thereabouts), met a french dude, Joel, who is also going to Tehran. For the remainder of the wait I was fortunate enough to be befriended by a bunch of Iranian emmigrants who were saying goodbye to their parents – they said the current regime in Iran isn’t too fond of the folks who are of Baha’i faith).

Should be an interesting trip.

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4pm, 13th February, 2009

Last night I was lucky enough to meet Farbod, a funny guy from Tehran who just finished a trip with his wife to Istanbul, He tried to educate me on a little of Farsi and explain the difference between Shi’ah and Sunni Islam. He said that he likes to drink beer and that Iranian girls are far prettier than Turkish. 🙂

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I woke up today and looked out the window to see snow that covered the ground to the horizon. Wow!

10 cups of tea later here we are in Tatvan. At some point here I think we and our train get onto a ferry that will take us across Lake Van to Van.

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My cabin mate, Ali, seems like a really nice guy. From what I could understand he is involved in IT and has something to do with networks between Turkey-Iran-Azherbaijan.

Watched 2 excellent movies – “Zack & Miri make a porno” & “the curious case of benjamin button” – if u haven’t seen them make sure you do!


3am, 14th February, 2009

We arrived in Van and got onto the Iranian train. A bit of a difference. The trains are dressed with some nice Iranian upholstery and the staff seem to speak more English than the guys working on the Turkish train.
Today was cool. Met so many lovely folks. Pretty much everyone has been very friendly – asking about where I’m from, am i married, what did i study, what do i think of Iran and Iranian people, why am i visiting Iran, etc… I am really hoping this will carry on into Iran. Will see!
From what i have heard/read this seems to be the case.

Beware! Forget about all the xenophobic, anti-Iranian propaganda dominating the media. What they say about terrorism and your life being in danger in Iran is absolute hogwash (I have no idea what that word means, but I like the sound of it: hogwash…). If anything, all that Iranians can be accused of is excessive hospitality. So, when traveling to Iran, beware of innocent looking situations which could turn into the experience of your life. Kind of like walking into The Twilight Zone.


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Passport control – entering Iran was a far quicker than exiting Turkey. Smooth.

6.30pm, 14th February, 2009
Apparently 5-10mins from Tehran!
This has been an excellent adventure – recommend it to everyone!
Amazing countryside to see!

How I discovered this train? The man in seat 61 –


Now to see what Tehran has got in store…