Well my night in Darab was ok, but that is about as far as it goes. It was a posh hotel, but there service was terrible. To be honest it felt a bit strange being there. It was at the end of a long drive and the whole experience seemed to be a far cry from what Iran is really like and to that end the following 2 night, and the previous 2, were much more to my liking, but very basic.
The ride from Darab was straight forward enough. I expected a quickish ride so had a lie in as long as possible but I was still up at 7:15. The only tough bit of the ride came almost at the end. The road had been going gently up for a while then started to climb steeply up to a pass, but the descent was even better and longer, through the mountains and through three short tunnels, two of which were linked by a bridge over the valley. I dropped down into the valley below and arrived at Furk, probably the only likely place to spend the night. There was a garage and a restaurant close together so I stopped at the restaurant and looked for a place to camp. There was nowhere suitable so I carried on through the village but returned as there was nothing better. I located one small piece of land large enough to put a tent on, that wasnt either rocky or had plants growing on it. I went to get permission to camp there but they wouldnt have it but said I could sleep in the outside tea area. That was good enough for me but they soon said I could sleep in a large glass fronted room that wasnt used. Within a couple of minutes they brought me a carpet to sleep on and I made myself at home. Later as I had dinner one of the workers came and sat at the end of the table and just stared at me. I dont mind people looking at me but staring is not comfortable so I stared him in the eyes back and it was quite a while before he got the message and looked else where, but he stared again as soon as I looked away and the process was repeated a number of times. Later the chef brought a book over and showed me an advert for the place. As I read the book the manager came a read over my shoulder, turning the pages when he was ready. When we got to the advert for his place I pointed it out but he swore blind it wasnt, took the book off me and looked for the advert which he couldnt find. He called the chef who found it for him, the one I had just shown him, then he passed it back to me as pleased as punch with himself. The night in glass room was really hot and I just had the silk sleeping bag liner over me and I still sweated away.
The following morning I was up before everybody else so helped myself to breakfast. I also asked for some bread for lunch and then I was off. The road continued its downward trend and I dipped below 1000m for the first time since I left the Black Sea coast almost 2 months ago. Down on the plain below I saw the biggest roadkill I have ever seen, I even stopped to take a photo of it. A fully grown camel was on it side with no sign of blood. Hitting that wouldnt do your car any good! The road had been quiet for the last couple of days but once I reached the main road and turned south to Bandar Abbas things changed dramatically. It was narrow with lots of trucks that didnt particularly want to slow down for a mear cyclist, so some ran far too close for comfort. After 110k the road climb steeply for about 10km, I could see it way above me with apparently nowhere to go, so I guessed right and it went through a tunnel. It was terrible, narrow, dark, very hot and very fumey. As the trucks passed the heat from the exhausts was really hot on my legs. I had no idea how long the tunnel was and worked out what I would do if I was overcome with fumes, but thankfully it was only 800m long and I was mighty glad to be out in fresh air again. I was also at the top of the pass and heading downhill fast. It would soon be time to find a camp site and as usual during the morning I could have camped almost anywhere as the ground had been flat and soft, but now I was in a steep valley and there was nothing but rocks. Way ahead I could see palm trees and that usually means a village and soon I arrived at Qotb Abad where I saw a policeman getting into his car at the police station, so I asked him if there was anywhere I could camp. He suggested the mosque and I lad on a bike took me there. It was ideal with a large courtyard at the back with running water and a loo, so I made myself at home and got a brew going. For the next hour or so I had continual visits from the boys of the village as word obviously spread that there was a strange cyclist staying at the mosque. The the mosque opened up for evening prayers and I was visited by the adults as they left, then I was left on my own. It was a lovely warm evening so I didnt bother putting up the tent and slept under the stars, feeling very happy, safe and content. It was blissful. Allah was looking after me.
Today I was up at about 5:45 as it was well light and I was on the road by about 7:15 having had breakfast and plenty of coffee. The road was terrible for the first 30k, too much traffic, mainly trucks, and again they didnt want to slow down, so it was far from enjoyable. But the end of the day was at sea level so at times it was fast and furious and further on there was a new dual carriageway with a great surface and the pace was quick, though it seemed to take an age to get from the outskirts to the centre. Once there I found an internet cafe, checked my mails and found that Judith and Andre were staying with a family and had given me the address, near the bus station, which wasnt on my map. 3 guys on a motor cycle started to show me the way but disappeared down an alleyway very quickly as a police car pulled up alongside me. The police then put me on the right road and went their separate way and every kilometre or so I would stopped and asked the way, having little confidence that I would ever find the place. Then another 2 on a motorcycle offered to show me but they wanted me to go faster and faster, but as they were the first ones that seemed to know exactly where is was I didnt want to lose them. Sure enough they got me there, 10km from the internet cafe, and I met up with J & A and their hosts, a man, his aunt, grandmother and a friend, all very confusing as first, but lovely people and very welcoming and a meal was soon served up after I had a nice warm shower.
So tomorrow we are off to U.A.E. and Dubai, assuming I can get a ticket as J & A already have theirs. So what will I miss about Iran? Well I will miss the people and their hospitality. I said after my 1999 visit that they are the most welcoming and friendly people of all the places I have visited and this trip has strongly confirmed that, they are wonderful and put politics aside and make everybody welcome in their homes. I will also miss the carrot jam, but I wont miss the jubs, the big wide, deep and dangerous water channels at the side of every road on towns. What I am looking forward to? The only things really are a change of scenery and the excitement of new experiences in new places that I know very little about.
We will be in Dubai for a few days as we want to sort out our Indian visas, then I would like to see a little of U.A.E. before going into Oman and trying to get a boat somewhere from Muscat, the capital. Time will tell if all that happens.