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Hotelnet: 20:10

Friday, 08 October, 2010 20:10

Currently at lat/long: n27 10.897 e56 16.778

I got up early to make a good start to find all three groups of German speakers in for breakfast at 7am. I'm not sure if they're all on the same coach or it's just coincidence. They did serve a cup of Nescafe that actually tasted like Nescafe, though.

A slightly more interesting run this time with a bit of scrub and a few mountains to cross. At the peak of the first I was stopped by the police who seemed to phone ahead. Then, "Go, go, go!" Er, OK.

A whizz down through the bends and then I was stopped by the police again, this time so they could scribble down some pertinent bits of information from my documents. This is the first time this has happened in Iran (it happened once in Morocco and not at all in Syria or Jordan). Is there trouble ahead?

Not really, unless you count rotten IR driving.

It took four hours or so to do the 260km to Hafiabad where I was rescued from closed wasteland town by some locals who lead me to the petrol station. That was in principle OK apart from the gormless dope who, with the key in the ignition and turned on and the bike in gear (a stopping habit learnt from the BMW school) was flicking the engine starter. Thank heavens for the sidestand kick switch (which prevents the engine turning over with the sidestand down). What a prick! Had I disabled the switch (a common 'mod' to avoid it in turn causing problems) the starter would have turned the engine, thus wheels and the bike would have been on the floor. With a full tank of benzine to glug about. As if it's not enough of a problem with the badly maintained petrol nozzles having non-functioning Venturi switches (which stop the flow of petrol when the tank fills) meaning every single fuel stop results in a gush of petrol over the tank, plastics and dripping onto the hot engine. Grr.

One tunnel today had corrugations (think corrugated iron roofs but with a 1-2ft wavelength) in the tarmac on the way in. Curiously, the white-line painting machine had been sent up here after the corrugations had set in. The result being what you might expect to see if you tried to draw a dashed line with a light hand on top of a badly loaded washing machine. A higgldy-piggldy mess.

The second (or was it third) tunnel was up a slight incline. I should say that no Iranian tunnel I've been through yet has any ventilation shaft nor decent lighting. This was maybe 800yds long and we never once went above 19kph. I imagine the big trucks at the front were doing a steady 10kph with the rest of us concertina-ing behind. The temperature guage on the bike hit a record 50C and it felt a whole lot hotter. Or maybe that was just the lungfulls of diesel soot.

I stopped shortly after for a picture of some rather wan green sandy soil which had been very green a little further back up the road and a couple of truckers stopped for a chat, one spending nearly five minutes reversing back up the parking bay to do so. I recognised that one a little further down the road -- it's very nice to get a toot-toot of welcome recognition rather than the "there's a foreigner" toot-toot I get most of the time.

Into Bandar-e-Abbas (not aided by the road signs) and a long old drag along the humid coast into the city centre. No roundabouts/squares were named in English (which is unusual) and as it happened I turned up the right street for my chosen hotel but LP's description did not include "it's not actually in this street, look down a side street" so I ploughed on and eventually stopped to be surrounded by locals (as ever) one of whom suggested that this might not be the friendliest town in Iran. Um, OK. I've not seen or felt any trouble, it should be said.

On the way back down I saw my hotel -- it was tall but no longer dominates the city centre (as two shopping centres hide it). They wanted a pile of cash so I said I'd try some others and staggered back out into the heat. The next place was full and I couldn't see the third (it turns out to have a rather low-key sign) so back to the Atilar Hotel.

I trundled out looking for a recommended coffee shop to no avail though I think I did see the recommended shake (as in banana shake) shop. It had no English (there is a fashion for having English writing on your shop then speaking no English inside) and I got scared of trying to ask for a shake. Sigh.

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