We got up at 4.30am to load the ANIMAL and be on the road by just after 5.00am. Akbar, our host at Akbar’s Tourist Guest House (US$30), got up to see us off. We had carefully packed the gift of famous Bam Dates he had given us the night before, for our long desolate journey through the desert. We were afforded the opportunity to watch the magnificent sunrise over the Iranian desert…..very romantic and special.

The 440km trip from Bam to the border at Mirjaveh (Iran) and Taftan (Pakistan) was hot (41.5 degrees Celcius) and very dry. The hot wind off the desert was like a blast from a furness. We saw a bus on its side along the way…not sure what had happened but we saw lot and lots of Camel Warning signs… actual camels though!

We stopped for a checkpoint just before Zahedan (390km from Bam)…this was a bit scary as there were armed guards everywhere and our passports were taken from us….always stressful for me when I don’t have my passport! Vince was called in by the big boss and they took him to a locked compound…..this really stressed me out as I waited with the ANIMAL. But my fears were unwarranted….they had been just chatting about our plans and the cricket! The big boss had offered us an armed escort to the border but Vince had politely declined (as he had heard that they really slow you down). Our passports safely returned, we stopped in Zahedan for fuel. This was of great interest to the locals, who have no idea of personal space or boundaries, we found ourselves quickly surrounded with hands and heads being very inquisitive so we got out of there as quickly as possible. Just out of Zahedan there was another checkpoint, and again Vince disappeared into a locked compound….but I was much less worried this time.

As we got closer to Mirjaveh we could see the mountains that have Afghanistan on the other side, and land mine signs all alone the edge of the desert… stopping to take a toilet break here! Not for the faint hearted this adventure travel!

About 4km short of the border we were stopped at yet another check point and the guards were very nice, giving us chairs, water and shade….but at the same time insisting on an armed escort to the border. We had to wait a little while but before too long they arrived….4 guards with AK47s….two in the front of the vehicle and two riding shotgun in the back. We had to keep a relatively close distance and if we got to far back they would put on their hazards to make us come closer. The younger military officer in the front had our passports and carnet and helped organise our exit from Iran by getting our passports stamped and although it took him about and hour and a half to finally find the correct customs office to stamp our carnet du passage… was all eventually in order. Vince through the whole experience was amazing…I found it much more stressful …. as I watch our documents slip continually out of sight and at one point some Inspection officers (with guns) were insisting on our passports and carnet….which we didn’t have……but luckily the other armed escort returned for us and sorted out the problem. Thank goodness for those blood pressure tablets of mine! We were exited from Iran with military precision and professionalism by the armed escort officers. However, there were a few at the final exit who treated our passports with disrespect….passing mine around like a dirty picture and handing it on to other guards who really had no need to see it……Vince thinks its because they don’t see pictures of women without their Hijab and my passport photo shows my hair. It made me very uncomfortable…but as they all had AK47’s I wasn’t going to argue the point!

The contrast with Pakistan on the other side of the gate was astounding. People came up and welcomed us….helped us go to the front of the passport line…change our money without hassling us at all….they showed us the customs office for our carnet (although it turned out to be the wrong one). The official at the small Customs Office explained we need to go to the big Customs House for our carnet and he instructed an armed officer to go on motorbike so we could follow. We did this but it took us to a tiny building with a dirt floor and several military uniformed people. They spoke little English but we managed to explain we needed a stamp….they got us to fill in about 4 different registers…including a from for Levies Protection….none of which was explained to us. We got our carnet handed back unstamped and I quickly picked up our passports they had just left on a desk as we were ushered to follow another guard on a motorbike….supposedly to get our carnet stamp.

We arrived at a secure compound with double walls. I disembarked the bike inside the first gate and was ushered into the second gate which was locked behind me, leaving Vince on the other side….I was very uncomfortable. When I turned around I realised I was in a male prison…..I quickly followed the guard who was making his way to an office….but no one was there. He disappeared into another room and I was left standing, carnet in hand, looking across the quadrangle at a multitude of prisoners in the yard, some in cells, some in chains….but most just sitting on the ground in the oppressive heat. I felt panic setting in but then the gate opened and Vince rode in on the ANIMAL. It was a relief to see him….but neither of us knew what was going on. Eventually one of the armed guards indicated for us to come into the guard room where we sat on the hard concrete floor as a prisoner made us some tea. No one spoke much English so it was very difficult. I was not at happy camper at all, and the sounds of the guards “extracting” confessions was not helping, but at least it was now clear we were not actually prisoners as we were on the “good” side of the yard. One of the guards, who could see I was stressed tried to explain we would go to Quetta tomorrow….it was only 12.05pm ….not a happy thought!

After what seemed like a lifetime, a guard came and took us to the next room where the Assistant Commissioner, who could speak English, told us that we were under Levies Protection and would go to Quetta early in the morning. He apologised for the basic conditions in accommodation but as it was a remote outpost it was all there was, and we were safer inside than outside. I asked about our carnet….and he said he would get one of his officers to sort it out (this eventually happened in the evening but only after I spoke with the Governor of the Jail and he got two Guards to take Vince to Customs House). Despite the language difficulties and very poor conditions the guards made us a comfortable as possible. They shared their food with us (lunch at 3.oopm and dinner at 11.15pm) and the hot brackish water they have to drink. There was one squat toilet, and to get to it you had to walk through the yard with the prisoners, and in a cell next to the toilet a man was crying and in chains. We could not shower, or even brush our teeth! We slept on the concrete floor of the guard room with only a light mat flooring and used our jackets for pillows. It really was one of the most difficult situations I have ever had to face in my life, but I must admit it was also a very unique opportunity to see things in action in the Levies Compound, as that night over 200 Afghani prisoners were brought in due to trying to cross the border without papers. It certainly is a busy place and the staff work extremely hard there. The Levies is a paramilitary role within Balochistan that keeps law and order in the rural communities (Area B). Within the cities (Area A) the police have responsibility for law and order.

Yadz to Bam (Iran)

The Orient Hotel (US$50 per night) did offer breakfast at 7.30 but we wanted to leave early to avoid the heat of the day as much as possible on the 560km trip from Yadz to Bam. So by 7.00am we were on our way, making a brief stop for fuel. Along the desert road we saw an accident that had just happened….but plenty of help was already on the scene so we didn’t stop to offer assistance. We saw sheep for the first time in Iran, previously we have seen goats and a few camels.

At our second fuel stop a group of women approached us, with two small children wanting to take photos….I agreed as the little girl was completely fascinated by me….I also removed my helmet of some of their photos and gave her a sticker…..I guess I am something she has never seen before….it’s illegal for women to ride motorbikes here and even if they are a pillion, none wear any protective body armour or helmets.

There was a vast nothingness to our journey for most of today….but every now and then there would appear a group of domed mud brick houses….literally in the middle of nowhere! I don’t know how people could live in these extreme conditions. Another phenomenon is the sudden appearance of industrial companies…such as concrete, again in the middle of absolutely nowhere!

Kerman was much larger than we expected and quite modern compared to some places we have past through, including works of art along the roadside along with a Dutch windmill, but we didn’t stop…. we were on a mission to crunch the kilometres and get to Bam. We did call into a small roadside stop south of Kerman and bough some drinks, ice-cream and little cakes…..the only food we had all day. Not ideal but you take what you can get!

We passed through some toll gates…..but as usual no charge for our motorbike….which really should not have been on there in the first place.

When we arrived in Bam around 3.00pm and had a bit of trouble finding Akbar’s Tourist Guest House, where we were booked in. A local motorcycle rider helped out by letting us follow him right to the front gate. Akbar was out, but his helper, Sam (also a guest from England), greeted us and made us some tea. With Akbar’s arrival also came the offer of some famous Bam dates….they were delicious. Our room was basic but adequate….although very hot with no fan or air conditioning. Opening the window did provide a bit of breeze….but it was still very hot.

In the evening Sam took us to one of the few local restaurants where we ate outside in a hut, sitting on cushions on the floor. Unfortunately, I left my camera behind so have no photos of this, or the heard of goats walking along the main street!

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 🙂

Without dwelling on the process as it’s the result that counts – Karen and I gratefully received our tourist visas for India this afternoon from Faranak – the kind lady at the Indian Embassy here in Tehran who assisted us during one of our earlier visits.

The visas include the magical words “60 days stay to travel by road from Attari Wagha land border into India on motorcycle.” It doesn’t get any better than that folks !!!

Back-tracking to the morning, Karen and I started our day with a quick breakfast at our hotel before jumping into a taxi and scooting to the Indian Embassy, arriving just before 09:00am. Karen was able to hand over our passports around 10:00am, and we spent the rest of the morning scrounging up some rations (granita biscuits and baked beans) as we may need them during our upcoming rides over the next week or so.

In the afternoon Karen set to work updating our trip notes – she is maintaining a detailed log of where and when we’ve been places – and I pottered around with some packing – I’ve moved our 2 x 1L water bottles inside my pannier as when they’ve been strapped to the outside of the pannier the water has reached boiling point I’m sure and is quite undrinkable. Beyond that I wrote out some trip notes for Karen so she can guide us out of Tehran tomorrow morning, at the start of our 640km ride down to Yazd.

About 3:30pm we caught a taxi back to the Embassy, and after helping the copy-paper guy carry some boxes inside we waited for 4:00pm to arrive, and with it our passports. Faranak greeted us with a huge smile – she has been very supportive these past couple of weeks, and we had a lovely chat with her before we left, visas in our hot little hands. Faranak has MA’s both in tourism and computer engineering,  and having spent time in India previously – including six months in Kerela in India’s south – she was able to suggest a number of places we should visit.

We had a bit of an adventure today…..finally out of the hotel in the last few days….thank goodness! We wanted to send some stuff home to save weight on our bike and the hotel staff told us there was a post office on second street….unfortunately there must be some Irish Iranian city planners, because the streets don’t really run in order very well. We eventually found it with help from a local shopkeeper…after walking miles in the heat….but they only send letters not parcels….so we were given further directions…further walking in the heat…and eventually found the right place. It was a mission to fill in the forms, which were in farsi, and it cost us an arm and a leg to send under 3 kg to Australia (1,680,000 IRR or around $80 Australian) but we got it done.

By the time we concluded our business at the post office it was lunch time…yes that’s how long we were walking around searching! Vince spotted a very Western type of place a few doors down so we popped in for lunch.

We then caught a taxi to take us to the National Museum of Iran….but the driver obviously had a problem, as he pulled up outside a local pharmacy, ran in then out again, all without a word. Vince and I just sat looking at the empty driver’s seat as traffic whizzed around us..and laughed. They do things differently here.

We eventually got to the museum and it was very interesting…. it has been running for more than 70 years, containing 300,000 museum objects in an area more than 20,000 square meters. It is the largest museum of History and Archaeology of Iran, and ranks as one of the most prestigious museums of the world with regards to volume, diversity and quality of its contents. It states it’s aims as preserving relics of the past, enhancing better understanding among world peoples and nations, and enhancing public knowledge.

It has lots of things from Persepolis….where we went when we were in Shiraz so we found this as an extra dimension to the exhibits for us. We really liked the statue of a mastiff, from the south east tower of the Apadana of Persepolis and we saw photographs of when it, and a three lion statue, were uncovered and then were able to see the actual items on display…..very exciting and beautiful. It made us feel a little like explorers!

One of the most unusual items we saw was Saltman 1. He was discovered in the Chehrabad salt mines, located on the southern part of the Hamzehlu village, on the west side of the city of Zanjan in Iran.  By 2010 the remains of six men in total had been discovered, most of them accidentally killed by the collapse of galleries they were working in. In the winter of 1993, miners came across a body with long hair, a beard and some artefacts.  These included the remains of a body, a foreleg inside a leather boot, three iron knives, a woollen half trouser, a silver needle, a sling, parts of a leather rope, a grindstone, a walnut, some pottery shards, textile fragments and a few broken bones.  The body had been buried in the middle of a tunnel approximately 45 metres in length. After archeological Carbon 14 dating, of different samples of bones and textiles, the Salt Man 1 was dated to about 1,700 years ago. His hair and DNA determined he was 37 years old and his blood group was B positive. His head had an injury indicating a blow prior to death and he had a gold earring on his left ear indicating high status….it is unknown what he was doing in the saltmines. The head and left leg (in a leather boot) of Salt Man 1 are on display at the National Museum of Iran and it was bit gruesome but interesting at the same time. Vince spent his time clowning around trying to scare me….but I’m made of sterner stuff than that! (haha)

After the museum we went to catch a taxi back to our hotel and whilst waiting a mini-van/small coach crashed into a motorcyclist. We went to help but luckily the man and his pillion were fine….only minor injuries not requiring any treatment….and they just kept saying “thank you Mrs” as I stayed with the rider and Vince lifted up his bike. We’ll given the crazy way the traffic is here I am surprised it is the only accident we have seen so far….but happily no big drama this time!

We will have a quiet evening and start our packing and preparation for Pakistan….tomorrow we are expecting to drop off our passports in the morning and pick them up in the evening with our Indian Visas in them…..maybe only for one month and single entry….but we are still hoping the Embassy may grant our request for 3 months, multiple entry….we live in HOPE!



Quiet day here in Tehranville, waiting for the clock to strike Wednesday morning so we can mosey on down to the Embassy and get our visas.

Received word back from the Pakistan High Commission in Camberra this morning – we need to enter Pak before the 23rd August, and can then spend 30 days there. We’ll get our India visas on the 19th and stay that night here, then on the 20th ride from Tehran to Yazd (640km), on the 21st ride from Yazd to Bam (560km), and then on the 22nd ride the 320km or so from Bam to Mirjaveh (Iranian border town), cross into Pak and then hopefully push on the additional 300km to Dalbandin, for an overnight camp at the police compound there.

I’ve done a bit on the GPS – dropped in the ‘India’ SD card I bought in the UK (1/3 of the price in Australia); plugged in the GPS co-ordinates of accomodation places in Yazd, Bam, Dalbandin, Quetta, Sukkar & Multan; contacted BMW New Delhi (again) to try and arrange a service for when we arrive; etc etc, and did some more reading of an e-book I downloaded the other day – Stephen King & Peter Straub’s “The Talisman” – an oldie but a goodie.

Karen is just waking up from an afternoon nap now – we had a late night last night watching “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” on the laptop – that’s all part of our preparation for India you know (and we thoroughly enjoyed the original “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”). The sequel seemed a little contrived in places, but it was still entertaining.

In this state of suspended animation we’ve been in recently we’ve managed to crunch through the latest season of ‘Big Bang Theory’ AND also ‘Game of Thrones – Season Five’ – though I was peeved with the ABC the other week as in one of their news articles re GoT they published a massive spoiler and hadn’t issued a spoiler alert at the start of the article – bad form ABC !!!

Late in the afternoon we caught a taxi out to the Milad Tower – also known as the Tehran Tower – the sixth tallest tower in the world. Brought online in 2009, this tower is a modern celebration of Iranian design, engineering and artistic skills, and dominates the skyline whe you look north forwards the mountains.

Copy and paste this link for the Milad Tower website –

‘Copy and paste this link for a cool brochure on the Milad Tower –

I bought our 2 x 350,000 IRR tickets to go to the top of a Sky Dome, and we made our way past the food shops in the ground floor area (including ‘Fresh Way’ – a Subway lookalike), up the escalators and along the forecourt to the tower proper, and then up the elevators to the Sky Dome. We had an amazing view over all of Tehran, and had timed our arrival so that we could watch the setting sun.

Everyone was ushered out of the Sky Dome before sunset so we went downstairs a few levels (the Tower has a 12-storey head structure perched near the top of it) and walked around these levels, one of which featured wax works of famous Iranian poets, professors (including Albert Einstien’s favourite student), musicians, soldiers, athletes (a wrestler who first won gold for Iran in Melbourne in 1956), and authors.

Another floor featured the Municipal Museum of Tehran, and which showed off gifts such as plaques and other momentos given to the Mayor of Tehran from other countries.

We watched the sun set over the mountains, and watched the lights of the city start to twinkle below before we left the head structure and caught the elevators down to the concourse, which featured a music show and many small craft stalls set up in the gardens. We enjoyed a crepe each for dinner – Karen had Nutella and banana in hers whilst mine was a cross between a hotdog and a crepe, before grabbing a taxi for the night ride back to our hotel.

Iranians are proud of the Tehran Tower and rightly so – it’s a wonderful place to visit, and lays all of  Tehran beneath your feet.





Situated within the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, since 1955, the Treasury of National Jewels (Iranian Crown Jewels) is held in a very secure vault. It is a collection of the most expensive jewels of the world, collected over centuries of turbulence, and is so unique it cannot be valued. We were not permitted to take photos or bags inside and had to go through several security checks….including one were I was not only pat searched but had my breasts felt up as well by an Iranian woman…..very strange – not sure what she thought I was hiding in there! Once all the checks were behind us we entered the lower level vault.

We saw the actual Takht-e Khurshīd (Sun/Peacock) Throne, that we had only previously seen a replica of in the Golstan Museum/Palace on our last trip to Tehran….it was magnificent and set aside in a separate area behind glass. The original was moved to the Treasury on 6th September 1981. It was made for Fath-Ali Shah Qajar and uses gold and loose stones from the Treasury. The sun at the top is encrusted with precious stones and gave it its name. After his marriage to Tavous Tajodoleh it changed to be called the Peacock Throne due to her being his favourite wife, called Lady Peacock.

Inside the vault we also saw his diamond, emerald and ruby set crown, the Kiani Crown. It is made of red velvet with 1800 small pearls (some only 7 mm in diameter) sewn on.  The crown is 32 cm (12.5 in.) high and 19.5 cm (7.5 in.) wide. Traditionally the Kiani Crown was used for coronation of the Qajar Kings, but in 1925 Reza Khan Pahlavi had the Pahlavi Crown made using selected stones from the Treasury for his coronation on April 25, 1926 AD (although the Kiani Crown was still present). The Pahlavi Crown was also used in the coronation of Mahmmad Reza Pahlavi on October 26, 1967 AD. Made of gold and silver, and decorated with diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and pearls it also features red velvet fabric. On the 4 sides of the crown are battlement designs and sunbursts totally set in diamonds. Inside the front sun design, there is a very large yellow diamond. The Crown hold the following precious stones: 3,380 Diamonds: 1,144 carats,  5 Emeralds: 199 carats, 2 Sapphires: 19 carats and 368 perfectly matching Pearls. Total weight of the crown is 2,080 grams.

Further inside the actual vault, we also saw the original smaller throne with the leopard/tiger (the Nadir Throne I think) that we had also seen a replica of in Golstan. Truly beautiful!

There is no information about the quality and quantity of the treasuries before the Safavid period when the monarchs began recording the history.  The Safavid monarchs, over two centuries (1502 to 1735 AD), started to collect rare and beautiful gems. The gem specialists of the Safavid court brought fine stones to Esfahan (Isfahan), the capital of Iran at that time from the markets of India the Ottoman Empire and European countries like France and Italy. Subsequent rules and conflict saw the treasury was scattered and some of the jewels were stolen. Eventually  some were returned under the ruler Nadir and preserved for Iran. Abdali, one of Nadir’s commanders, looted the treasury. One of the famous jewels that left Iran at this time and never returned was the famous “Kooh-e-Nur” (Mountain of Light) diamond. This diamond passed on to several other hands until it eventually ended up in the East India Company after a British victory (1850 AD) and it was given to Queen Victoria as a gift and it is currently in the late Queen Mother’s Crown in England.

There was no major change in the Treasury until the time of the Qajar dynasty. During the Qajar period, the Treasury was collected and recorded. Some of the stones were mounted on the Kiani Crown, the Nadir Throne, the Globe of jewels, and the Peacock Throne (or the Sun Throne). Two others items that were gradually added to the Treasury, are the turquoises from the local turquoise mines which are precious in Iran, and pearls, originating from the Persian Gulf.

The famous Darya-i-Nur (Sea of light) is the largest pink diamond of the world and takes the first place among the diamonds in the National Treasury of Iran. Nasser-ed-din Shah believed that this diamond was one of the gems decorating the crown of Cyrus (558 to 529 BC), and was very fond of it. He wore it as an armband, aigrette or as a brooch. The weight is approximately 182 carats, and it is a rare pale pink colour. The frame is set with 457 diamonds and 4 rubies. In 1965, during the research by a Canadian team on the National Jewels, it was discovered that this diamond was orginally 242 carats (Diamonda Grande Table) from India, and was cut into two to create the Darya-i-Nur (Sea of Light) mounted in a broach, and the other part became the 60 carat Nur-ol-Eyn (Light of the Eye). The stone is presently mounted as the principal diamond in the wedding Tiara (The Noor-ul-Ain) made for the Iranian Empress Farah Pahlavi’s wedding to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1958. It is a modern design, featuring 324 pink, yellow, and white diamonds set in platinum and weights around 2kg, and is held in the Treasury.

We were very impressed with the Globe of Jewels, made in 1869 AD by order of Nasser-ed-din Shah it is about 66cm in diameter. A group of Iranian craftsmen made the globe using 51,366 loose stones, weighing 3,656 grams, from the Treasury. The net gold used is 34.00 kilograms. The oceans and sears are emeralds and the land is made of rubies.  Southeast Asia, Iran, England and France are specified with diamonds. India is shown in pale rubies. Central and South Africa are shown in sapphires. The equator as well as other geographical lines is in diamonds and rubies. The stand is of gold and studded with gems. Breathtaking….we found Australia!

I picked out a broach and a tiara I liked…..neither of which are the main attractions….but I’m sure they would still miss them ….LOL (Only Joking).


See here for some photos of the jewels held within the ‘Treasury of National Jewels’ (or search for that term using Google Images):




After consideration overnight, we’ve ended up staying in Tehran – I was crunching some numbers last night re rear tyre wear and if we go riding for the next few days we’ll push the rear tyre well over the typical mileage I get out of one, and I don’t want to get jammed up with a problem in Pakistan.
When I planned the tyre replacements I worked on 6,000km per rear tyre, but by having to ride 900km back from Shiraz to Tehran, and then having to reride the same distance again when we finally head for the border – that’s an additional 1,800km expected from the tyre, and a loop through the mountains was going to add another 900km to that distance, which could be more than the tyre can sustain. We’re carrying two spare tyres – a front & a rear – but I want to save them for India & Nepal.
So now we’ll just read some electronic books today (Friday is a weekend day) and then go visit the museums and sights of Tehran, starting tomorrow.
Nepal offers Visa On Arrival at six land border crossings with India and have a very simple visa system – the longer you want to stay the more you pay for your visa. No hassles.
I did email the Indian Embassy here in Tehran yesterday and asked for consideration of a three month visa rather than the one month they have finally offered, but if we have to we will take what we can get at this point. We are mindful that we’d also lose ten days of the one month just getting to India. If we end up with only twenty days for India then I’d go something like Amritsar, Shimla to Manali & Rotang Pass, Agra (Taj Mahal), and then out to the first (western-most) crossing into Nepal. There is a road that runs along the base of the foothills of the Himalayas – parallel to the border with India.
When life gives us lemons it leaves us no choice but to make lemonade!

No visas for India today, so we won’t be crossing into Pakistan with Claire and Emiel on the 17th as we’d hoped.

The one glimmer of hope is that the Embassy did say they would issue visas on the 19th and we will make use of that, and in the meantime we will continue our stalled exploration of Iran for a while then return to Tehran for the visas.

On a brighter note we attended the Iranian Police Office for Foriegn Aliens again this morning at 08:00am – courteous, efficient service and sixty minutes later we walked out with 2.5 week extensions to our visas when we had only asked for two weeks – now that’s the way a country can make international travellers feel welcome.

As an aside, when Karen and I were sitting in the office of the Special Security boss yesterday whilst he sorted out our visa extension request with Milad the young soldier sitting alongside us – I mentioned how much we loved visiting Iran and how friendly and genuine and generous Iranians are, and Mila replied somewhat despondently that “No one loves Iranians” – this seems to be a common sentiment amongst the people we’ve chatted with, and it’s sad as Iranians are truly the friendliest people we’ve met on this trip.


The original plan for today was to visit the Jewellry Musuem of Tehran – renowned as the most stunning collection of gems and jewellry in the world, but we can’t seem to win a trick at the moment – upon checking the museum is closed today, open tomorrow afternoon.

I checked our Iranian visas and ‘aargh!!’ – they expire on the day that the Indian Consular here said he’d issue a road visa if he hasn’t heard back from New Delhi – 19th August, so Karen and I bolted out looking for the Police Office for Foriegn Aliens at nearby Fatemi Junction. It took us a while to track down the office, and when we arrived Milad, a soldier on duty took us under his wing and sheparded us upstairs to the boss of the ‘Special Security’ unit to secure approval for a two-week visa extension here.

Written approval in hand, Milad then took us downstairs to organise the paperwork, but we needed to bolt back to our hotel to get some passport photos required to accompany our extension application, and then Milad directed us to a nearby bank where we needed to pay for the extensions.

At this stage we had about 30 minutes left before the Police Office closed for the day, so Karen stormed the bank and everyone hit the floor (not really but it sounded good for our book!). We eyeballed an English-speaking teller and ponied up the 690,000 IRR (for two people) we needed to deposit. Receipt slips in hand we ran back to the Police Office just up the road, but then got lost inside the orderly scrum taking place in the waiting room and ended up still sitting on our seats as instructed whilst the office closed up. Duh! A young English-speaking couple chatted with the last remaining customer service policeman, and advised us to return tomorrow morning at 08:00am, and to push our way to the front of any queue.

Back at our hotel we’re reaching out to Turkey and other locations we can possibly airfreight the bike from – over India – and safely into Bangkok. For the sake of two US$50 visas we’ve expended weeks in effort, $1,000’s in unbudgeted accommodation costs, and potentially now some substantial airfreight costs.

Some people may well question the merit of persevering so long on this visa folly – a small part of me at least is driven by fond memories of a book I read a few years ago – Max Riesch’s “India: The Shimmering Dream” – the story of the first overland motorcycle journey to India in 1933. I’ll bet that Max didn’t face the visa obstacles that we’re currently facing, but you’ll need to read the book to learn about the challenges that he and his pillion did face 🙂

Copy and paste this link for details on India: The Shimmering Dream –