blog from the Trans-Asya Expressi

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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!

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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.

source: http://www.digitalroom.net/index2.html

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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 – http://www.seat61.com/Iran.htm

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Now to see what Tehran has got in store…

Iran Approaching

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If all things go to plan I’ll be catching the first thing smoking (the Trans Asya Expressi train) from Kayseri (Turkey) to Tehran (Iran) – a 2 to 3 day journey over what should be some very interesting countryside.

I am currently in Goreme taking it easy and cheaply after covering a fair bit of ground the past few weeks. Not much happening here except for the occasional stroll to the local shop and some decent time playing around with my new camera and photoshop. So what’s the plan?

Well on Thursday (today = Monday) I will head to Kayseri early morning and hopefully be able to get at ticket on the Trans Asya Expressi train which begins its journey in Istanbul. The folks up at one of the tour places said it should be easy to get a ticket seeing as it is low season – fingers crossed. I have thought a lot about what route I will take and this is where I am at:

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If it goes smoothly and I have surplus time I might try fit a detour to Mashad out in the east to have a bit of a look.

The Lonely Planet Middle East book that Lisa got me (thankyou Smalls!) has come in very handy to get some ideas on what to see. Also a lot of time abusing google!
Hopefully my budget of €30 is well over what i need and sees me through the max 30 days I have!

My expectations of the weather are low (has been pretty shite in my travels over this part of the world so far!) but hopefully the excursion to the Persian Gulf will heat things up 🙂

Looking forward to meeting the Iranian folks, trying some new food and in general just some interesting adventures!

I hope i make that train!

Inspiration for today: Check out this amazing adventure 2 cool folks did – 15000kms! – Bremen to Seremban – http://noplanes.wordpress.com/