At last – back on the road today after being pinned down at our hotel for thirteen nights by the shambozzle of our Indian visas, and we were both looking forwards to our 640km ride to Yazd, our evening destination.
We had a light breakfast at 7:00am and were on the road soon afterwards, taking a different route through Tehran before picking up the same highway we’d travelled a few weeks before when we had headed south to Esfahan.
We refuelled at the stop 30km south of Qom – our third time here, and had a quick drink before pushing on. South of Keshan the road split in half – left lane to Yazd, right to Esfahan. We peeled left and for the first time today found ourselves riding a new road – though albeit we’d already experienced the hot riding conditions and desert vistas previously, so we knew what to expect.
We refuelled at a small servo near NAME, and Karen had a photo opportunity with a young girl in her ‘Miss Men’ t-shirt before we carried on. We kept our breaks short and sparse, keen to cover the distance as quickly as we legally could. There were lots of Police speed checks along the way and I pulled over at one check but we soon realised that the Police had flagged down the car behind me, so we were quickly on our way again. The cruise-control is a bonus out here – I set it to the speed limit and then just relax.
Approaching Yazd I fired up the GPS and selected the ‘Orient Hotel’ coordinates I’d entered the previous evening, but something was obviously amiss when the GPS instructed me to ride another 840km towards the north-east of Iran, so I quickly switched that off. We pulled over and got the iPad out of the top box – I’d taken some screen shots of Google Maps showing at various magnifications our destination, and Karen held the iPad and gave me navigation instructions as I carried on riding. This became a bit harder when her Sena ran out of power, so she had to yell above the noise of the wind.
At one stage I could see a small willie-willie moving towards the street we were on, and the dust was completely obscuring visibility of the road ahead so I pulled over and waited for it to pass which was fortunate as two 44 gallon drums had been blown onto the road, blocking our path.
We found the short road we needed to ride down to get to the Orient Hotel but the entrance was blocked off and the road had been ripped up for maintenance, so I took the next turn, and quickly got trapped into a maze of paths between the mud-brick walls. A young boy offered to show us how to get to the Orient, but he led us into a walkway too narrow for the bike and we were almost wedged in tight before I decided to back out and try another path. A man on a motorbike saw us reverse out and he led us back to the main road and then down the chopped up street, before pointing out the Orient up a little alleyway.
The roadworks had removed any semblance of a ramp from the road to the footpath and then the footpath up to the sloping alley, so I had the wrestle the bike up onto the footpath using a pile of sand and rocks about 20m away, and then used all brute engine strength and zero finesse to get the bike up a steep lip and onto the alley, popping a wheelie and almost dropping the bike in the process. Once I was up the alley and at the hotel I found out that the garage parking was around the side of the hotel, accessible from the rear street where we’d originally been …. duh !!! With that understanding, Karen and I stripped all the gear – including panniers – off the bike, and slimmed down I was just able to scrape the bike through the narrow walkway we’d taken from the opposite end when led by the young boy. The walkway had a few turns in it which narrowed the path and at these I needed to lean the bike over a bit and wriggle the bars to get enough clearance, but with a bit of perseverance, and with Karen guiding me, I got the bike through and then into the secured garage area, which was just a junkyard next to the hotel. This is the beauty of this trip – with no one else to help me other than Karen – if I get myself into a riding situation then it’s up to me to get the bike out again, as there’s no one around that I can get help from. It’s not always comfortable or fun, but it does increase my self-reliance a little ….
Dinner was the most delicious chicken curry, eaten on a day bed on the rooftop of the Orient as we watched the sunset over the Jamie Mosque. The spicy curry was absolutely delicious – the owner’s wife is Indian and her home cooking is a treat. We had the option of chicken or camel curry, and part of me wanted to try the camel, but it had been a long day and I was happy with something simple and straightforwards. Maybe we’ll try camel curry in Pakistan 🙂