Thursday, 18 October 2007

Day 21 – Tabriz – Tehran

Saturday 6th October 2007

Upon waking up in our Iranian hotel I discovered that despite the lack of alcohol many had ended up sat in the lobby till 1am, including my room mate. Rather than a friendly chat or a catch up the undertones of this discussion seem to have been more ominous. There is dissention in the ranks and talks of mutiny and revolution begin to mount!

After an uninspired breakfast of bath mat bread, honey, cheese, ordinary bread and tea it was time to load up for what was described as a huge drive day. After reassurance in Istanbul that our long drive days were behind us this was met with some surprise by the Ozbusers and even one of our drivers commented on the fact that she didn’t know it as a long drive day!

Having been told to get food for lunch the day before and nothing being open it was to be an uneventful day of driving and surviving on crisps, chocolate, sweets and honey sandwiches, with the occasional stop at local sights. Now had we been paying attention when we crossed the border I have a feeling that when we saw the “wel come to the IR of Iran” we would also have seen a smaller sign underneath saying “under construction”. Every sight seems to be covered in scaffolding! One of the tickets I have saved from a mosque we visited has scaffolding in the picture that is printed on it! Still it is interesting to see a new culture but also disturbing to see how they treat women. Our local guide tells us women are strong but when men leer at our girls just because they are western and slap their asses with no attempt at subtlety or remorse I find her words hard to believe.

Continuing on our fairly uneventful day we were oblivious to the upcoming excitement and drama on the horizon. With 2 OzBus birthdays happening today (happy birthday guys) at least we would have some excitement. It all began with the bus suddenly and unexpectedly pulling over to the side of the road. Despite the fact that we apparently had enough fuel to handle another 300k we had mysteriously run out of fuel. Now you would think that the fuel gauge would have tipped us off to this but if you remember a few days ago we dragged a sign down the street and temporarily lost the back bumper, well we also permanently lost the fuel gauge. A local in a big lorry was kind enough to stop and siphon us off enough fuel to get to the next fuel station. With our driver racking her brains about how she had got her fuel consumption figures so wrong we reached the service stop and after a quick shop stop and 700 litres of diesel we were back on the road again. Our next stop was the blue mosque of Iran.

After our mosque tour we boarded the bus and discovered why we had run out of fuel. In the words of our esteemed tour leader “we are leaking diesel, which is a relief as it explains why we ran out of fuel”. A quick jury rigged repair to get us to Tehran and it was off to the hotel, losing a wing mirror in the traffic on the way. We were however assured that the bus would be fixed while we were in Tehran.

Upon arrival we checked in to the rooms, which were a good size, had TVs, showers, en-suites and some even had bath tubs. You could tell this used to be a very nice hotel. I am sure we have all stayed somewhere similar in the past, in its hey day it was top notch but now it is just starting to fade a little. Dinner was a group affair with mixed opinions, not everyone got a full serving and I for one was not happy to see the platter of chips pass so hauntingly close to my table and then be whisked away. The exciting element to begin with was the drinks table. There it was in all its shining glory, beer! There were only a few and they were quickly snatched up and then just as quickly put back. What had been a miraculous gift turned out to be non-alcoholic! Some still clung to the need for beer and went ahead anyway but I think they all regretted it in the end. Next stop bed. We had a free morning the next day so decided we would get an early night having already missed England’s, let’s be honest, surprising defeat of Australia and being able to watch France v NZ in bed we all went our separate ways and agreed to meet at 8am the next day for sight seeing.

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