Posted: October 29, 2010 in 6.Iran

So I promised that i’d tell you about the crossing in to Iran and as we are now safely in Dubai here it is:

Iran has not started well. I’m going to try very hard not to get all depressing on you and I realise that I might start to sound whiney, which is crazy seeing as we have the opportunity to do this amazing trip but after the last few days I can begin to see why people fly.

The border crossing was going so well. Turkey went smoothly and quickly and when we crossed into Iran the border guard took us to meet the tourist information man, who was very nice and very helpful and we got all our papers stamped and Carnet signed. In fact, it took less than an hour before we were on our way… or so we thought. After clearing all the main gates and compound a small barrier lies between you and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I pulled up to the gate only to be accosted by a number of men demanding to know whether my car took diesel or petrol. You see, if your car is diesel you are meant to purchase fuel cards, however the tourist information man said this isn’t entirely necessary and to just ignore these men, so I did, and pushed my way past to the guard on the gate. He said I could go through so I jumped back into the Land Rover and was just about to set off when the screaming reached fever pitch. The guard finally gave in to the shouts from these men and made me go and see a little man in a hut off the left of the main gate. The smiles from the men who had gathered around the car made me nervous. The man in the hut, who had clearly just been woken up, came out to check my car to see if it was indeed diesel and then after announcing it was retired back to the hut, leaving Megan and I to do battle with these randoms. Basically, to travel through Iran and get fuel you need to get fuel cards, which you buy off the government. The number of fuel cards you need depends on how far you are traveling and as we are going to Bandar Abbas in the south of the country we need a lot of fuel. However the dude in the hut had no interest in selling me a card and the only way I could get one and the stamp to get into Iran was to buy a card off the black market bandits.

The first price I was quoted was £600! Umm….. no chance mate. We simply didn’t have that kind of money to waste. Feeling very annoyed we drove back to the tourist office to see if the man could help but his only reply was ‘this is Iran, good luck!’. Back down at the gate we parked up and ignored the constant laughing and jeering from the men, which seemed to help as when they finally came over the price was £350, still way too much. An hour later the dude in the hut came out and beckoned me into the office. He took the passports and Carnet and was about to sign and stamp them when the group rushed in again, shouting and screaming. By this time Megan and I had both had enough; I started to get cross and they surrounded me, trying to intimidate and threaten me, Megan at this point started screaming at them. This had a profound effect and we finally managed to agree to $200 for 300 litres worth of fuel cards (which is still pretty cheap but about $199 too much). Finally we got the cards and our stamp and were our way, an hour and a half longer than we should have been. Who these guys are I don’t know, local Mafia by the looks of them but anyone coming this way prepare yourself for hassle.

About an hour after we crossed the border the new temperature gauge broke and I noticed someone had stolen the dust caps off my wheels, bugger.

The plan was to get to Tabriz, a city about four hours from the border and because of the delay at the border we didn’t get there till around 5. Tabriz is a lot larger that it seems on Google maps and although I have read that driving in Iran is mental I naively thought that if I can drive around Colney Hatch Lane Tesco Extra, North London, on a Saturday morning in the Land Rover 130 then nothing would phase me. Man was I wrong. I can’t describe how bad the driving is. There are no rules bar one; drive wherever you like, in any direction and at top speed. It’s unbelievable. We stopped at one hotel on the outskirts, which quoted us $142 a night, well out of our budget so we drove further into the city. We got lost, we got stuck in the worst traffic jam known to man, I nearly ran about seven people over, as they simply step into the street without looking, and at least two people bumped into me. Two hours later we gave up and retreated back to the 5 star $142 a night hotel. Both of us felt deflated and upset. We had hoped Iran would be a highlight judging by all the things people have said but the first day left us with the desire to get through Iran as quickly as possible and catch the ferry to Dubai……. I’m sure things will improve.

Sorry about going back in time and i’ll be up to date from now on, promise.

  1. Caroline says:

    Ohhhh guys! I’m so pleased your safely in Dubai now and hope you get the chance to relax and enjoy yourselves without too much stress from the car. I’m sure you are. Thinking of you both often and believe me you are not missing much over here. Apart from x factor and strictly come dancing of course. Very proud of Meg for screaming at those men. Stay safe and lots of love.
    Caroline xxx

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