Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Day 78: Zanjan to Bijar: 350km 8 hours

Another good early start.
Our daily routine is well established. 
Get up, pack our green bags, take the bags and stow them in the bike(Dick), breakfast, pack the yellow bags, load the bike and ride.
Breakfast in Iran is simple. Flat bread, carrot jam, some white cheese and butter and tea. 



The Soltaniyeh - the third largest brick domed building in the world. Recently restored. Turquoise ceramic mosaics cover the dome.
We climb the steep spiral stairs to the two upper levels.
A tour group arrives so we listen in to some of the commentary which is largely around calligraphy and the art work on the vaulted ceilings.





The newest recruit to Team kiwi.

The petrol stations have good facilities including prayer rooms - seperate for men and women. 

After what we thought was a five km ride to the Soltaniyeh (it was 41km) we turned toward Zanjan and headed west to another historical site. The Takh-e soleiman.
Good roads swooping down and up and over the rolling hillsides.

A tomato seller sheltering from the sun 
Hay making is underway and we saw lots of trucks carrying loose dry grass. To 
Wheat fields cover the hillsides in every direction.  I am guessing that it is winter wheat. The fields are being ploughed, dished and harrowed for seed sowing prior to winter. The snows will provide moisture in the spring.
Typical thick walled mud and daub houses with hay stacked on the roofs of animal sheds.
We followed a mining gondola for gifted some miles. We needed to be sure we were heading in the right direction. They assured us we were.
Wonderful coloured rocks. A large zinc mine was in this region.
The Takh e soleiman. An ancient Zoroastrian historical site. Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion. The three magi that went to Bethlehem when Jesus was born are thought to be from this region.


Earth, water, fire and air are symbols in Zoroastrianism. This small lake is in the crater of a volcano. The water is toxic. 


Limestone mines in the  hills produce these huge rocks which the lorries struggle to carry over the hilly roads.
It looks so dry it is hard to imagine that these hill sides have been green with wheat a few months ago.

But where are we? It turns out we were heading west toward the Iran/Iraq border. So we turn round and head to Tabak and Bijar. 
What's another 97km on a motorcycle?

 We arrive in Bigar late in the afternoon. The short ride had turned into a longer than expected ride. Two interesting sets of ruins took us to out of the way places in the Iranian province of Kurdistan.

At the crucial  moment these angels on motocross bikes appear. "Hotel?"We ask. They point back down the road and indicate we follow them. Voila. There is a building with three stars and other signs in Persian script. In we go. Yes, there is a room. We pay in rials. Foreign credit cards don't work in Iran. Travellers need to have cash.
They  ask for our passports and then hand over the key. We were nervous about handing over our passports last night, too. I think the passport is hostage for the return of the key next morning.


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