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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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/

photos: LX3 play around 20080206

messing around with some photos i got yesterday at Canakkale on my LX3. The camera seems terrific!
Only problem now is that Aperture 2 doesn’t support the RW2 RAW files. So i’ve used Adobe DNG Converter to create DNG files and then messed around in Photoshop.
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Taking the quick Rhodes

9am, Saturday 31st January, 2009.
Sitting in seat c56 (I think) on a boat headed to … well I’m not exactly sure 🙂 .

I arrived in Rhodes from Hiraklio, Crete about 4 hours ago, spent 3 hours in the reception at Lydia Hotel, google told me that what I thought was a 7th wonder of the world (and had come to Rhodes to see) WOULD HAVE been if it still was standing.

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So I figured that seeing as I am bleeding €uro here so quickly I’d better get out of Europe asap!
I’d been hitting up google a lot for info on boats to Bodrum and Marmaris but this time of year they are not so frequent apparently – I think the next one was in a few days and cost €50+

Rhodes sunrise

I’d had enough of Lydia’s reception so decided to grab a coffee and go walk along the harbour. To my surprise I walked past a boat that was leaving in 30 minutes, to Turkey! €29 later here I am headed to Symi for a few hours wait then to some place beginning with “D” that is hopefully in Turkey and not too far from Bodrum.

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Cool this boat seems speedy. iPhone says 60km/h!

UPDATE #1: the LP book says I might be going to Datca – bottom left of Turkey. Hopefully can get a bus from the to Bodrum.

UPDATE #2: made it to Symi – looks to be a cool place, houses filling the cliff-like shoreline. Got my passport stamped and it’s only a 30 mins to Datca. There’s a town near Datca that might have a ferry to Bodrum

UPDATE #3: Woah what a mission! After the ferry to Datca (looked l?ke a very pretty l?ttle town on the coast) I got a bus to Marmaris and then a bus to Bodrum. So here I am living it large in what is probably a mega partyopolous in the summer.

Marmaris to Bodrum

Check your Turkey

Haha that is hilarious…
I handed over my 110 lira for a Istanbul to Athens fare, only to cross the border and be told “this ticket is for simple train only, today no simple train. You must pay €26 for intercity train to Athens.”
Yeah as I said, hilarious.
So here we are getting a train to Alexanderopopopoplous to get some euro and get the intercity train. The alternative was to pay €6.50 to Thessaloniki and cough up €17+ for a nights accomodation.
Also a funny moment – Dan took a photo of the Greek border crossing as we passed in the train. When we got to the Greek passport control Dab was asked if he’d taken a photo of the border. He was politely asked the delete the photo after the border army had phoned trough to the Pythion trainstation and reported it!
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