The diaries - 4   

02 September

Underground lakes and caves


ride out from Hamedan to the Alisdar Cave complex about 50Km away. It is described as the largest water cave in the world.  Leaving the ‘bikes under the watchful eye of the car park attendant we pay our dues and walk down in to the cave.  It’s all tastefully done down below in spite of the tacky gift shops at the entrance.  We soon get to the ‘landing’ where several people are waiting, and a few minutes later we’re all aboard small boats, holding four people each, tied together by rope, and pulled along by a couple of guys in a paddle boat.  We twist and turn along the corridors of the cavern complex, the water varying in depth from a few inches to 18 meters.  After half an hour we’re off the boats and walking along a well defined and well lit pathway into huge caverns, after which we return by boat, along another route, back to the start. 
One of the Trax pannier mountings is loose after I dropped the bike at the top of Mount Nemrut, and I needed a washer to space the mounting out.  We walk in to town and to the bike shop where we had had some craic with the owner the previous day.  Showing him what I want he makes one in one minute thirty seconds, using only a hammer and mandrel and doesn’t charge me,

We ride south east, the roads are good but the driving is suicidal.  A lorry is being reversed into the road ahead of us, he has to turn round, we pull up with the four way flashers going, couple of cars behind also, but one guy in the outside lane, without braking, and at 60mph, swerves round the rear of the lorry and onto the cinders dirt and dust and disappears from sight.  He had absolutely no idea what was behind the lorry… on this occasion he lived. I put my hand to my head and do the ‘crazy’ sign and the guy next to me nods and cracks out laughing.

Duelling Banjo’s

We’re in Khansar heading for Daran where we intend to spend the night.  Several attempts are made to flag us down by a couple of well dressed blokes in a decent car, so eventually Sue pulls up, it’s the safest course of action.  They show us photo’s on their mobile ‘phones of their girlfriends/wives. We don’t know, we have no common language. They make a ‘phone call and invite us for tea so we follow them.  I’m not too sure about this, they were too much ‘in your face’, but Sue seems happy.  The car twists and turns up narrow dusty unmade roads, rights and lefts, climbing all the time, and twenty minutes later they pull up outside a house and tell me to take my bike down a narrow track for which getting it back out would be impossible.  I refuse and leave it where it is parked, with Sue’s TTR under the trees.  Bells are ringing in my head, a dull thud, I’m not happy, but just maybe I spent too long in the police.  We follow them down the track in to an unkempt orchard where we are introduced to some more people.  No tea is forthcoming but we are given fruit off the trees and invited to stay the night.  The noisiest of the two guys, for he is noisy, sits next to me, touches me, the dull thud is banging loudly now.  I whisper to Sue and we make a quick exit, the guy wants to ride my bike.  We can’t follow the track log back to the main road quick enough… all the time Duelling Banjo’s is going round and round in my head.  Sue agrees that all was not as it first seemed.

We’re riding our ‘bikes in busy main town Esfahan when a guy in front on a Honda 125 takes his left trainer off and empties it of sand and gravel, we cop for the lot.  He never even slowed down.  We’re looking for a hotel and do just as the local 125’s do when a U turn is required.  We use the small pedestrian gap in the central reservation, which are several feet wide and often have a couple of steps to negotiate also.  We scatter a few pedestrians but they don’t seem to mind too much.  There are hundreds of the small 125cc variants of the Honda CG125’s and they don’t abide by any rules.  They’ll ride the wrong way down the street, will often have up to four people on one ‘bike, small children between two adults, carry abnormal loads.  We saw one ‘bike with the pillion’s arms behind, hanging on to a wheelbarrow.  It followed the ‘bike with a hint of a wobble, but wow, what a trailer eh!

We have a couple of days in Esfahan where we extend our Iranian visas, just in case, and then head for Persepolis.


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