The ride from Shiraz to Yazd was tortuous. I left Shiraz as soon as I had my visa extension at 1pm and the heat was building up nicely. After about 300km I reached the blazingly white and salty plains of the desert around Yazd. The road was in great shape as always in Iran and hardly any car around, which made riding at 160km an hour a real (sand-) blast! I didn’t encounter a negative wind chill yet, but if you get 160km/h of 45c hot air right in your face you will understand. I sealed every tiny hole in my helmet so no outside air could get in.
Half an hour later I came as close to disaster as I had been so far on this trip.
When critical temperature inside my helmet caused sweat and sunscreen to team up, the mixture simultaneously flooded both eyes, completely blinding me – at 160km/h. All I could do was to hit the brakes full on -in the middle of the road. I was lucky -the bike came to a standstill on the wrong side of the road but fortunately no other car coming my way. Note to self: no sunscreen above your eyes while riding through desert.
Feeling lucky I checked myself into palace-like surroundings and waited for the heat to subside, which didn’t really happen at all. 11PM and the temperature still at 39c, I went outside to explore the old mud-built core of Yazd with its amazing Badgir wind-catchers. Depending on their type they can catch the slightest breeze of wind from one, two or four directions and funnel it into the house below. Streets where deserted except for a few motorcycles racing through the narrow mud walled alleys. Their head- and taillights made for some neat long-exposure shots (-> Gallery).
After a short stopover in Kashan I headed for Kermanshah, a big city near the border to Iraq. During the Iran – Iraq war it was heavily destroyed. It is close enough to the border to be hit without much precision guidance involved.
Turns out that my host there, the owner of the Sina Hotel studied Industrial Design in Germany and spoke fluent German. We cruised the city at night, slurped the local ice cream-noodle desert and Ahmed gave me all the inside info I needed for my trip into Kurdistan along the Iraqi border the next day, and what a day it was!
Winding my way up from the plains of Kermanshah province into the high mountains via the spectacular Howraman valley I took a few wrong turns and the paved road turned into dirt. Then it was literally the end of the road, barbed wire, a rusty fence and a few boulders blocking the way into Iraq (-> Gallery).
After backtracking for a while and hugging the Iraqi borderline driving along a fantastic scenic road allowing me to see far into the plains of Iraq, I noticed a small stone-built dwelling a few hundred meters down the valley. As I wasgazing down the people from below shouted “Chai, Chai!” – Tea.So I left my bike up there and climbed down the narrow path to the cave-like stone shelter they call home. The family living there and two of their relatives who where just visiting, warmly welcomed me with tea, bread, buttermilk and the best homemade cream cheese I ever tasted. I was very astonished to notice that the eldest of the men spoke a few words of German. He was severely injured during the Halabja Massacre carried out by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish people in 1988. The attack killed around 5,000 people and injured another 10,000. He was treated in a German Hospital for months, picking up his few words of German. Even the scars in his face and his right eye are horrific he seemed a naturally happy man, laughing a lot. We kept gesticulating and passing my Farsi phrasebook back and forth until it got really late in the day and they invited me to stay with them. True Kurdish hospitality shown by the poorest of people.
And as always, check the bigger, better, uncut pictures in THE GALLERY!