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Full throttle into the nothing
d_Garmeh-Taftan

Full throttle into the nothing

The place that steals your heart

2018. április 05.

I got the least looked forward part of my trip. I had to ride across the Dast-e Lut desert in Iran, then drive through Balochistan along the Afghan border with armed forces securing me.

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I tried to look for a travel buddy for this border crossing, but I’ve only managed to find a German dude, who was posting way too many Coelho quotes about the meaning of life and other crap for my taste, so I opted out.

to infinity and beyond

My brother left from Tehran, and I had to start making my way to Pakistan. If I want to be honest, I didn’t really feel doing it. This part of my journey is not one of those typical tourist roads, besides, most of it is gonna be boring desert where you just accelerate on the asphalt and that’s all.

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I estimated to reach the Iranian border in 6 days with relaxed pace. One could do it in 5, but I definitely wanted to stop in the Garmeh oasis for 2 days relaxing.

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I was sitting in my hotel room in Tehran in a very bad mood, but the day after the sun came up in my head, and my wide smile returned to my face. It felt good to be back on two wheels again. I got to Naein in the afternoon.

I wasn’t expecting a metropolis, but it was kinda shocking, it felt like it was a weekend. Everything was closed, not a single living soul was on the street, silence ruled them all. The city has two hotels. I chose the cheaper one, that is obviously also the uglier. I already made peace with my fate of spending the afternoon in this dark hole tiled up to the ceiling, so I figured I should get paraffine and clean the chains.

I was just about to tell the owner about my mission and how badly I need paraffine, when an old man appeared, who spoke perfect English. He told me, due to some religious festivity, everything is closed. But that he knows a guy in the neighbour village who has paraffine, he would gladly take me to him with his car. Needless to say, I didn’t have to pay neither for the taxi, nor for the paraffine. Once we got back, I was happily surprised to see a Ural motor sidecar and two other motorbikes parking in front of the hotel.

img_4566.jpgThe shortest living motorcycle gang (lasted for 4,5 km)

Needless to say, I got really excited, and obviously I identified this esoteric German dude immediately among them. It was a weird bunch. An old Swiss dude in the Ural, a big Danish dude on a KTM, and the German Coelho on two wheels. Turned out, everyone except the Swiss dude were heading to Pakistan. My happiness didn’t last long though, since the rest was planning to cross the border only in 8-10 days.

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We spent a relaxed evening together with some alcohol free beers, and at least I got some company for that 4,5 km in Iran. Obviously the Coelho guy turned out to be a really cool person too. My loss.

a real oasis

So I started the sucky desert journey. I made it to Garmeh quite fast, so it wasn’t too bad. My friend I met by the Caspian Sea told me about Garmeh, so I knew there is gonna be a really good hotel waiting for me, and I knew I’m gonna find it, because there is not much else around there.

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I have found the hotel really fast, and it was exactly like I pictured it in my head. But to my biggest surprise they told me they are full.

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I started to get this numb feeling over me that the place I wanted to go to so bad for 2 weeks doesn’t have a room for me, in the middle of the desert. I was putting my bags back on the motor, when an old lady came running after me, shouting “yes room, room ok!” Somebody has left just after lunch, so at the end I managed to get my own mud-carved hole.

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I was really happy doing nothing for two days. I was reading, chilling, and talking to any random crazy people like me whom I met. In the middle of nothing like this place, somehow one can meet a lot of crazy people. The first one was a German girl, who arrived on a bicycle. She is cycling around Iran all by herself. The second crazy was a Swiss couple in a Ural motor sidecar, they obviously knew the other Swiss crazy. Unfortunately they weren’t going to Pakistan but towards Africa. But at least they told me that a bottle of vodka is part of first aid kit of every Ural.

The desert doesn’t let you go

I was supposed to head south from Garmeh, but due to the increasing amount of drug and gun smuggling bands, I decided to go towards north instead. Not because I was scared of those, but because I would have to get an armed guarding from Kerman and I really didn’t feel like it.

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I was going full throttle most of the time, so I can get out of this nothingness and reach some sort of city. It hasn’t rained around here for 5 years, but obviously now. It wasn’t too bad though, but the monotone landscape and grey sky and loneliness are not necessarily the best ingredients of cheerfulness. I somehow managed to find strength in the particularity of this setting.

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Once I stopped on the side of the road to take a photo, and my bike started sinking in the sand. Luckily the third passing car stopped. Three really shady looking dudes got out of it, they helped lifting my bike out of the sand. We did some selfies and I rushed further.

I soon arrived in Tabas. A fucking ugly place, where in the fucking ugly and obviously empty hotel they gave me the only room without a window on the ground floor.

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I spent a very boring here, and went to Birjand the day after, where I finally found myself a good hotel with a good bed and warm water in the shower. Then I continued onto Zahedan, which is basically the Iranian border town to Pakistan.

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tricking the authorities

Zahedan is truly a dodgy shithole. If you check into a hotel here, you must tell them immediately where your next destination is, and if it’s either Pakistan or Kerman, you automatically get the armed guards to assist you.

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So I lied that I was gonna head back to Birjand, so at least I could take the remaining 100km to the border freely.

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Zahedan is one of those places, where people look at you like you were an alien. Every man wears a kurta, and there are a lot of armed police officers everywhere. I saw a lot of taxis parking in front of my hotel. Suddenly I got paranoid, that they are here because they’ve heard that there is a stupid biker tourist here, and they are gonna kidnap me tomorrow in the desert. But I managed to drag myself back to earth, and realise this is not Hollywood but reality.

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I woke up early the next day so I could get to the border fast. There were two check points on my way. On the first one I managed to somehow explain why I don’t have an escort. I played the stupid tourist card, we took some selfies, and I was off! On the second one however, I was stuck. There was really no way for them to let me go without an escort. They said I need to wait there for 2 hours until it arrives. But after an hour of being intensely annoying, they let me go. I basically just didn’t shut up about how it’s only 6 km to the border, and how stupid it is to just sit there. So at the end I won and I was free to go.

chaos and anarchy

Crossing the border started out smoothly, but suddenly I got lost in the process. I could only see trucks and buses around, and nobody could tell me where I should go and whom should I talk to. In my nervousness I managed to crash into a barrier, that partly fell over. Two dudes never stopped telling me how I have to pay for the damage, but I played the nice stupid card, and told them “no money, no problem” - just so they know where we’re at. At the end I was going around for so long, that the usual thing happened. A bureaucrat appeared next to me, who accompanied me among the lines, and 20 minutes later I was standing there on the Pakistani side, where everyone was smiling at me with machine guns in their hands.

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