Iran part 1, Orumiyeh- Kashan
Already when changing money in Orumiyeh I got the first shock. 1 Euro is the current exchange rate of 16,840 Iranian Rials. So if you exchange 200 euros, that gives a lot of banknotes! You almost feel like a millionaire. When shopping, bus driving and otherwise the Iranians do not speak of Rials but in Tomans. A toman equals 10 rials. For example, if you ask a seller at the bazaar for the price, that one says "one," meaning 10'000 rials. In addition, I have never seen so many banks on my trip in any other country as in Iran. For foreigners, however, these are pretty useless. Neither foreign credit cards nor travelers checks are accepted. Only cash!
The first part of my journey was along Lake Orumiyeh.
Like the Dead Sea, this lake is so salty that you can not sink into it. Since 1976 it is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (6000 square kilometers). Slowly he threatens to dry out. Just like the Aral Lake in Central Asia. The Zarinarud River, a major tributary, was diverted towards Tabriz. From the road the lake looks almost like a desert and at 30 degrees it feels like it. The men in Iran all wear long pants. That does not make cycling very enjoyable. My water consumption is now 8 liters per day.
The streets are in a great condition, but too narrow. When two trucks cross each other and I come with my bike, it gets pretty tight. In addition, the Iranians have no idea about traffic rules. Everyone goes by the motto: the faster and stronger one wins. Four times, oncoming vehicles deliberately cut my path and pushed me off the road. By and large, cycling in this country is not much fun.
The people are just stunning. On the first evening, a Kurdish farmer invited me to his home for dinner and overnight. Half the village came by to see me. The family lives, sleeps, cooks and works in a single room. It was an impressive evening.
Unfortunately, there are also very high mountains in Iran. Scenic, this is beautiful but in the heat and with 10% slope full of nightmare. Pretty exhausted, I arrived in the evening in the cities. In Saqqez I wanted to buy Naan (Iranian bread). The three boys gave me the bread. However, when I was not careful, one of them stole my mobile phone and wallet. The money was gone. I wanted to contact the police, but a few passersby demanded the money back for me. That's the big disadvantage when traveling alone. You always have to be careful.
Asad invited me to a gas station Asad to his home. There was a shower with dinner and bed (the Kurds sleep on the floor). His cousin is studying medicine and speaks English very well. He played my interpreter throughout the evening. Again the whole family came to visit. After such exhausting days you are usually dead tired and just want to sleep. It's not always easy to smile. We took countless pictures this evening. In general, the Iranians are very enthusiastic if you want to take a picture of them. At some point my interpreter asked me in English, "Is it important in Europe for the women to be virgin at the wedding?" I had to stop laughing. But in this country this is a strict tradition.
The next day, the two accompanied me to their uncle's shop, gave me a lot of food and drove me to the end of town. Asad said goodbye that this was the best evening in his life. I almost had tears. The following three days we continued through the mountains. I got all the curse words out of my vocabulary and invented a bunch of new ones.
Sanandaj was the last city in the Kurdish part of Iran. Out of great gratitude to the Kurds in Iran and Turkey, I named my bicycle "Kurd". I hope that one day the Kurds will be able to live in peace. Except in Iraq, they still have problems to be recognized by their countries (Syria, Turkey and Iran). In Qorveh I stayed in a mosque for the first time. All men and children came over. I was even allowed to look at the prayer. Unfortunately, the first prayer starts at half past four in the morning. After that, sleep is over. As a result, I started quite early and was close to Hamadan at noon.
Suddenly 3 racing cyclists came to meet me. A man and two women. Afshim and Maryam are in the Iranian national team. They escorted me to Hamadan and cared for me for the next two days. I got to know the whole bicycle scene of Hamadan. The first night we spent on a country house outside the city overlooking the skyline of Hamadan. My first free night on this tour.
Hamadan was once one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 728 BC The Greek King Deiokes built a palace and city here and named it the capital of his kingdom (Ecbatana). The city wall consisted of seven units. The two innermost walls were decorated with gold and silver. 550 BC The city fell under the rule of the Persian king Cyrus. This used her as a summer residence. Especially in August, it is relatively cool here. From December to March, it is freezing cold. Then the city was taken again. In the 7th century the Arabs stood at their gates and in the 12th century the Seljuks. This was followed by the Mongols (1386) and finally the Turks (18th century). In 1929, the German engineer Karl Frisch completely redesigned the road network. In the center is the Imam Khomeini square. He is created circular. From there, six roads lead to the outside, which are in turn connected circularly. With Afschim I visited the Ebn-e Sina (Avicenna) Monument.
Hojjat-ol-Hajj Sharaf-ol-Molk Sheikh-or-Ra'is Abu-'Ali Hossein ebn-e Sina of Bukhara is considered one of the most brilliant and greatest physicists and philosophers of the Iranian and Islamic world. In Bukhara (Uzbekistan) he began his education through the study of the Holy Qoran, arithmetic and religious law (980 AD). Then followed mathematics and theology.
At the age of 16, his teacher Abu-'Abdollah Natili recommended to study these sciences himself. He left all the writings of Aristotle, Hippocrates, Archimedes, Ptolemy u.v.a. When he had finished all works at the age of 18, he got access to the royal library of the King of Samanids. At the age of 21, he began to write books himself. A vocation that he pursued until the end of his life.
He also began to engage politically and to pass on his knowledge as a teacher. He was constantly traveling and was often persecuted. He wrote some of his works in captivity. His oeuvre includes more than 250 volumes of science on medicine, theology, psychology, mathematics, mysticism, alchemy, some chapters of the Holy Qur'an u.v.m. His most important work "the Canoun of Medicine" was reprinted several times during the Renaissance period in Europe. Avicenna influenced and inspired, among others, Goethe and Leonardo da Vinci.
This book contains more than a million words of medicine and pharmaceuticals. Avicenna found out how the muscles (closing and opening) of the eye and pupils work. He died at an advanced age in Hamadan, where this monument was erected in his honor in the 1970s.
But there are other attractions in Hamadan as well. So the Baba Taher monument.
The inscriptions were designed by the monarch Xerxes (486-466 BC) to honor the god Zoroastrian. In addition, he wanted to prove that he is a good king and also thank his father (King Darius). In winter, the waterfall is a popular place for ice climbing. The bazaar was a highlight in itself.
The second night I spent with the family of Shadi and Nahid. Four years ago Shadi participated in a sprint competition in Tehran without any preparation and won smoothly. She is regarded as a young talent in the Iranian national team. Your everyday training is difficult. As a woman, she is only allowed to drive around in public with long training gowns. In addition, she is harassed, especially by men, constantly. Some have purposely thrown broken glass at their tires while training or cut their way with their cars.
Currently, her left forearm is broken because of such an action. The only Sprintbahn in Iran is also located in Tehran and she is studying next to planning science. Every day she writes down a few wishes in a notebook. Her biggest wish is that one day people in their country will be able to live in freedom. For me she is a heroine. Since I feel pretty ridiculous with my project. Her father allowed me to have dinner with a glass of home-made house wine. On departure, the whole family accompanied me with the car and the rest of the team on the bike.
This time I really had to cry when saying goodbye. Thank you so much for everything and the great time in Hamadan!
Slowly it got warmer and warmer. Around noon, the thermometer rises to 35 degrees. That's why I changed my daily rhythm a bit. Mostly at half past five in the morning I start driving. By eleven o'clock the heat is already almost unbearable. I spend the lunch time sleeping and then try to drive for two or three hours each evening. I always stayed in the park until after Kashan.
The Iranians sleep in small folding tents in the park when they are passing through. Therefore, this is also a safe place for me and you make many acquaintances with the local people. Some students in Malayer bought me Naan (Iranian bread) and water and asked me what people in Europe think about Iran. I usually tell everyone that Iranians love Osama Bin Laden and all men have long beards. This leads to great laughter. When they said goodbye, the students just said, "Please, tell the People's in Europe, that's how we like them!"
The track was now flat for the first time. The kilometers flew just like that. Actually, I wanted to stay one day in Qom. Qom is the second holiest city in Iran after Masshad. But already on arrival the city was already unsympathetic to me. The women were all dressed in black and when I wanted to ask a few passers-by for directions at a bus stop, a police officer came and sent me away from the court. Idiot!
That's why I drove to Kashan after a short night. In the park I talked to a student. He played my tour guide for the rest of the day and chauffeured me through the city by car. There are many legends about this city. One of them comes from the Bible and states that three wise men set out from Kashan to visit the newborn Christ. Another is the story of Abu Musa Al-Ashari's, who invented a special method to conquer the city. Seeing the massive city walls, he ordered his men in the desert to collect thousands of scorpions and catapult them across the wall. The Kashans had to surrender after this attack. Only from 1051 AD. there are the first historical records. The Seljuks made the city one that was famous for its clothes, poetry and lifestyles. Shah Abbas the first was so overwhelmed by this desert city that he spent more time here than in Esfahan. Most of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1779. In the 19th century, hundreds of traditional houses were built here. Some of them have survived to this day and are listed as historical monuments. You can stay there in one of the beautiful Persian tea houses.
The Agha Bozorg mosque.
It is considered one of the best mosques built during the 19th century. Today it serves as a school and museum. During the hot summer days, students spend their time learning in the lower, cooler floors. Due to the air circulation, it is pleasantly cool.
My bowel and bladder management got out of the way slowly due to the heat. Driving diarrhea through the desert is quite uncomfortable. Not a single bush far and wide behind which one could hide. Maybe my organism will get used to the hot weather.