Iran from the law, but it was too fast

So Ive just left Tehran captial of Iran, so far I’ve found this country to be a very speculator place, wonderful scenery with everything from lush green valleys, perfect paddy fields, winding majestic mountains, flowing rivers too hot sandy rocky desert and mad busy bustling crazy cities,we have camped at a lovely Lake, (here was the view from my tent)
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a restful river side also in a peaceful pear orchard, well expect a few howling dogs and the near by trucks on the highway 😉 traffic is madder than most places we have been too and we all even had to get a 40km bus into Tehran and a 100 km out of Tehran as it was too unsafe to cycle , and I agree with the decision as we could of all been lost or had an accident.
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Tehran has been again a huge metropolis with cars, buses, scoters and motorcycles jostling for every available road space and some even driving the wrong way down the road to get to their destination quicker, it’s not a good place for a pedestrian or a bicycle, also in the bazaar it was maelstrom of mayhem with 20kms of narrow avenues packed with people , buying , selling and delivering every imaginable product, like carpets, bras , painting, gold, kitchen ware, shoes and suites all being delivered by guys with wee wheelbarrows stacked high with all the products, a brilliant busy head buzzing experience wondering round the bazaar for hours, it was awesome but a great relief to get out and have smoothly on the way back to the hotel.
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With such friendly people asking where were from how we enjoy Iran offering help, and sharing their wifi , food and drink its really is fantastically friendly, but what I cannot get my head around is the all restrictions, especially with the women having to be covered up, usually in black head covers (must be roasting in the extreme heat of this place) and neck covers it’s mental too think that is a law that they must comply with this or get punished ? Why cannot women just choose what they want to wear , then finding out that live music (especially western music ) is also banned or restricted it’s very sad and bad to see such restrictions on people having fun , especially with people who are so friendly and nice , imagine living in place where playing of live western music is illegal and if your a women signing solo that used to be a crime punishable by death (this seem to be now only punishable by going to jail) but still WTF? Imagine no women solo singer in our society ? With knowing many musicians back home and how they Express their feeling with playing tunes and us all listening to bands enjoying our selfs as much as we want without a care in the world , it’s beyond any nightmare I can imagine, when asking the young people in the streets what they do for fun and entertainment all have said there is not fun here only small house parties and extreme underground meeting for music events, a crazy situation that I hope and pray will soon be changed, speaking to a few young guys they said that with social media, satellite tv and Internet ect thing will and must change , and there ar underground women’s groups fighting the restrictions and some even wear their head scarfs way back exposing their hair as a sign of defiance, good on them and fingers crossed for a change in Irans laws.

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Also on a minor note a few of us guys headed out to the bazaar wearing shorts as it was roasting hot and sweaty,walking around we we got many weird and inquisitive looks ,we even got followed through a part of the bazaar by one of the police man who did not seem very happy With our short wearing presence ? We asked a few people, they said no problems about us wearing our short it’s just no men here wear them it’s not really accepted but for tourists it ok, the you look round and he’s right not one man wears shorts even if it’s boiling hot, not sure if this is a religious or culture thing but again just another thing to make this place so different from back home.

So on to back home and the Scottish referendum, (I’m no expert by any means it’s just how I feel ) but by visiting all the places on this tour so far, makes me realise how good we actually have it and how much we take for advantage, like our democracy, freedom of dress, equal rights for women and man, same sex marriages, freedom of speech, our justice system, our health care system , our educationn system, and our free universities, it’s so great we have these and we can all have our opinions and voice them, debate them, argue about them freely, will an independent Scotland continue and improve these values fought for many years ago by so many people ? I think so, but everyone is entitled to their opinion that’s the point so don’t get angry with each other, listen, debate, agree to disagree if you like but , it’s your right to have an opinion, so go and vote for what you want the future of Scotland to be. What ever your vote may be!

So on another point Iran is a dry country all alcohol is banned, so I’ve no had a drink for like 2 week, I never thought no alcohol for that amount of days would have an effect on me but I would lying to say it not, no really heebie geebies but a cold beer after a stressful day shopping in a huge crazy bazaar would be so so good, i do miss it, ouch well only 7 ish days till we get to turkey and as much effes beer as we can drink 😉
It’s mad to think our so society is so much based on drinking booze and using it for relaxing, fun and socialising, and to come to place that is banned and restricted is very hard to accept, but maybe we should not drink quite as much as we should? But I’ll be defo drinking in beer as soon as we cross the bearer with Turkey! Cheers and bring on the beers 🙂

Drunkmenistan, cobra king and the not so secret police

Just left Turkmenistan, Ashgabat the capital city is a mental, mad, magical, and mysterious a megalomaniac vision of power,wealth and the future, with white marbell gold leafe buildings everywhre, everything is about prestige with pristine posh spotless Clean all shiny and sparkling roads, pavements, bus stops, bridges, and underpasses, brand new Lexus, Toyota and other fancy cars driving about with blacked out windows , but with police and military on every street corner, if doctor evil from Austin powers had a city this would be it a draconian dictators dream. We are not allowed to access hardy any of the fancy building,go on their steps or take photos ?We have been escorted everywhere, watched at every turn, monitored at the hotel , bar and even at the swimmingpool, Also the people seemed scared or frightened to wave or smile and speak to us, Hardly no Internet anywhere and when found no access to face book, wordpress or a few others web site, non of my 4 vpn providers work here either nightmare, a few nights ago at the bar I got chatting to a few foreigner Workers from Romania and France, they are here building a few of the fancy buildings they told us a few stories, like you get fined for having a dirty unwashed car (even if the car is spotless), you get fined and sent home if your caught with a local girl and god knows what happens to her if she gets caught? it sure makes you appreciate where you get born, and the freedoms we all take for advantage back at home. The most disturbing thing was the amount of fountains everywhere and even boasting of the biggest fountain in the world , but the guide book say that only 50 % of the Turkmenistan population actually have running water in their homes! a crazy messed up place.

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Some highlights and weirdness about Turkmenistan we stayed in a town called Mary at a horse racing track hotel which seemed to be the presidents own Personal villa /horse track very posh and elaborate but lots of things did not work , like the fridge and some doors etc. We were not allowed to leave to hotel / horse track we had to get the organised bus into town , we were followed by police everywhere

More Madness came when we came out of truck stop coke stop restaurant thing and we found a deadly dangerous hissing Cobra near Brians bicycle the local guys the tried to kill it with a garden hoe, it escaped their attempt and climbed up Brian’s bike and into his cycling helmet, he was shouting don’t get blood on my bike or helmet (like a true cyclist only concerned about his equipment not the deadly snake 🙂 it moved on to the window sill they then whacked the snake in half it still wriggled and hissed bold going everywhere it fell to the ground and the guys poked it right in the face and killed it! It was cray cray to be that close to a deadly killer snake with no defence so thank to the local tuck stop guy and giving the snake the hoe down 😉 boom

I experienced a few Drunkmenistan situations a few times out and about in Turkmenistan I’ve bumped in to some incredible drunk men, who all tried to befriend and speak to me, first we were at a swimming pool in Mary 2 in the afternoon and this guy in his swimming trunks tries to first speak to me but he couldn’t speak to drunk, plus he spoke no English then he tried to feed me crisps, I was like please do one and go away then to show off to everyone at the pool he tries to do a dive which turned out to beThe biggest bellyflop I’ve seen In a while a classic belly burner stinger, he then tries to grab my nose and beard , I now just wanted to throw him in the pool, but then he was all drunken hugs and smiles , he then done few more belly flops and we hoped he was not going to drown, then he got escorted out of the pool and sent home, well funny but not as funny as the time we went to the restaurant in Mary and this big fat Russian man in white clothes come up to our table and brought a bottle of champagne, he was ex Russia Air Force and he was drunk as a skunk, he then proceeded to do a dance in the restaurant , the dance was manly like a martial arts kata moves but then he dropped and done the splits a few times very impressive with his belly and tight white trousers on, the man could move, after all this and a few dozen vodka he was also sent home himself in a taxi , I will post the video of his moves as soon as I can , it’s hilarious..

Turkmenistan in General was lot and lots of flat desert we were lucky with the weather as it only really got up to 45 degrees in heat and usual it can be well over 50 degrees in August , so thank goodness we did not experience that, but we were promised lots of tailwind to blow us forward instead we got lots of headwinds keeping us cool but keeping it hard to peddle and making he day a bit long, any way that’s it done and dusted

Now onto rehab in Iran 🙂 no beers, spirits, no alcohol for 3 weeks, and after paying the most for the Iranian visa at 270 euros, that’s at least double or quadruple of all the other (the benefit of being a British citizen) ? it better be bloody brilliant, at least they sell non alcohol beer ? Cannot see the pint I that !

Now arrived Bojnurd north east if Iran , so far so much super friendly, waves and smiles and even when trying to get a SIM card we got invited into design company office to use their wifi and they gave us food, soft drink and tea , amazing hospitality and brilliant food, amazing so onwards and upward for Iran , cannot wait to see the rest of it. Bring it on

Oh and over 8900 km done and only 6 weeks left , OMG!!!

Please look at the Facebook page Gary silk route cycle and Instagram @gtontour for more photos

The 5 B’s and a moose loose aboot the hoose

I’m Now in the beautiful city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, an amazing city that’s been fully restored to its past glories, back On the 14th century its ruler Amir Temur ruled the Silk Road and it’s trade and got very very rich from it, they built beautiful squares, Masada’s (Islamic learning places), mosques and other buildings , many of these fell in the disrepair or were war ravaged, then around 1930 the Russians rebuilt them to nearly as good as the good old days. Here’s a few Picts of the stunning places.
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Ok down to the cycling over 7500 km done ( I think as I stupidly reset my odometer after day 2 and have done it many time since 🙂 with less than 2 months to go till the finish line ( arrrrrrgg now that’s scary) it’s been a mental and very hard last few weeks, cycling over and out of the Pamir mountains, completing our Tajikistan section and entering Uzbekistan. Been some tough days in the saddle having to grit my teeth and suck it up, with Many rough rocky roads with sand, soil and shit In our path, The weather has been adding to the tough days with it being super sunny and hot at over 40 degrees most days. But all good for getting a great tan and loosing a few pounds 😉 well that’s if I ever stop drinking beer and not covering my Scottish red skin with clothes, no chance 🙂

So the latest highlights have been Camping next to a waterfall and river in Tajikistan where wee nearly got kicked out as Frieder our trans euro Switzerland rider got naked For a wash in the river and the locals were not too happy with his brow eye display 🙂 any way we were all good, no nakedness allowed and we all behaved properly, another highlight was in a small Uzbekistan town we met a boy around 11 who spoke perfect English, he had been to london to see Chelsea play football and his goals was to go and study English at Oxford or Cambridge, he knew lots of capital cities and all the footballers playing for Chelsea’s (a good lad and I even gave him one of my IRN BRU sweeties I’ve had in my bags since leaving Scotland 🙂
Also met a super cool Shepard In his purple felt smoking jacket, he had 3000sheep/ goats and was far too cool for school, found out later this jacket is the Uzbek national dress, I’ll try to buy one if it fits in my bag

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another funny thing is the Uzbek money we get 2900 som for $1 and they don’t have any note higher than a 5000 and they are scarce, I changed money for a few others, so left the hostel with $250 and came back with 725000 soms all in 1000 notes, I could not even fit it in my pockets and had to carry it back in a large plastic bag

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The Food again is awesome everywhere selling kebabs (shashlik), fresh bread and mr whippy ice creams what else do you need? we stopped at a little truck stop in Uzbekistan and we were a wee bit Hungary so I mimed we wanted 2 chickens, just imagine the funky chicken dance and that’s what I did, they laughed and the guy brought out two frozen chickens, yeas thumbs up that what we want, expecting a long wait for them to be cooked, 5 mins latter out he came with two roasted chicken in gravy and bread, It was so juicy, salty and god dam brilliant the 4 of us devoured it, within 10 mins, absorbing all the gravy with the bread, nearly licking the plate clean, my funky chicken dance worked with the brilliant best chicken I’ve ever tasted. When in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe we hade some of the best coffee,on the trip it was a bit expensive but well worth it, also we had a few beers, cocktails and even shared a hookah (That’s a sheesh pipe not a woman 😉

Ok so am on other well deserved 2 day rest days in Samarkand, where it’s essential to carry out my 5 B’s rest rituals, these are:
Bike (clean, maintain)
Bags (flaffing, repack, organise)
Blog (ok am lazy at doing This but please look at my face book site https://www.facebook.com/garysilkroutecycle for more regular updates)
Bottom (rest my sorry ass and try to get a massage)
Binge (on food and beers 🙂

I also had another encounter on my first day/night in Uzbekistan, we were staying at this pretty manky hostel thing, sharing 4 to a room, no aircon, no fan, noisy as hell outside with cars, horns and techno music, so I decided to sleep in the hall way which was quieter and less hot, I blew up my air mat and was sleeping nicely dreaming of nice things then I was dreaming someone was taping my head, it continued going all over my head, it was that strange I woke up thinking someone was messing with me, only to find a wee moose (mouse) next my shoulder, it had been happily trying to find food in my hair and beard, I bolted up as soon I saw it trying to be manly and not scream, I let out a wee eeek and the mouse scurried away into the room where I should of been sleeping. I couldn’t seep in the hall way after that and I finally got to sleep back in the noises bed, I hope little mickey managed to find some food and didn’t hope in any of my or the other bags for a ride to the next town 🙂

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Stan’s the man, but not one if your a yak fan!

I’m back onLine whoooopppeee so Now in Korog Tajikistan, having a rest day in a brilliant camp ground just over the river from Afghanistan, I can actually see the afghan flag flying proudly in the wind from my tent. It’s green black and red sun thing is very much like the scenery here, green and black mountains and boiling hot red sun burning down on us. As It’s Over 35 degrees just now but there is a wee wind to cool us down now and again.

So what have I been up too in the last 10 days since Kashgar and my last Internet or mobile signal, well we waved good bye to china and entered Kyrgyzstan, and it was mad as soon as we crossed the boarder, grass and birds in the sky appeared and lots of chirping from all directions , I never realised until then that we never saw or heard many birds in china.

The scenery of Kyrgyzstan just started getting better and better with every kilometre, it was so so beautiful , big massive snow capped mountains in the distance and green pastures to the left and right, amazing stuff with no cars or trucks or nothing on the road expect us cycling, beyond brilliant after the busy roads of china.

Our first night camp in Kyrgyzstan was super duper too , we camped in a field on a hill side with local nomads and their donkeys, cows , sheep and goats, I even wake to find Cows chewing n pooing next to my tent, a freshly laid cow pie next to my tent was a funny thing to see and smell you just cannot beat 😉 the local kids helped put up our tents, and mallet in our pegs they were so helpful and kind it was great so I put on my tiger onsie for a laugh and cased them about pretending to be a tiger, after that I gave a few of them the lovey loome bands that my cool niece Ruth made, they loved them and then we all played football and near night time I needed up playing drafts (checkers) with their mum, I let her win obviously , so not to be a bas guest :-). Ok she kicked my ass and I was trying my best 🙂 the only bad thing was the stupid donkey eeeee owwwing all night long, I wished shrek would come along and take it on long long journey.

So the local drink in Kyrgyzstan is fermented mares ( aye horse) milk , it was all right not too bad tasted kind of like home made cider very earthy and bitter not bad at all and a wee bit alcoholic so I drank a few of jug fulls,

In most of the valleys or hillside in Kyrgyzstan there were nomad people in kind of old Russian Mobile home things, also parked next to them were new cars , we stopped at a few for some more mares milk , some yak butter and sugar and tea they were so friendly, we found out lots of them love in the city or town during the winter and for 4 months of summer time they come to live with their horses, cows and sheep in the most beautiful valley in the world looking after there live stock , it as so beautiful, green, sunny and most had satellite tv, it seemed to me to be the best live style ever.

We had many steep Steep climbs up paid of with spectacular out of the world views , loads of Meadows , flowers, bird song, but best memory must be Riding bike down a huge hill at 67 kmph with a Heard of horses galloping next to me man it near ly brought a tear to my eye, it was so awesome.

We had a rest day in a place called Sari tash, where there was a roughly built house and a few yurts to sleep in, it had a wee (burn) stream for the village so only drinking water, the electricity was off and on all the time , it had no Internet or mobile coverage. It was fantastic. I bought a bottle of blue embroidery lady vodka for $2 it went down very smoothly and didn’t give a banging headache the next day. When we were in sari tash it was the World Cup football but we could not get A tv signal, but we did manage to get a txt a few days latter with the score, well done Germany !

Much of out time there was spent Chillaxing in the yurt listen to tunes and me thinking off buying one or two yurts for a new venture? I’ll have to come back to Kyrgyzstan aswell so let’s see, they cost from $1000 to $5000 so it might be a good idea for a few festivals and parties in the future? Might cook my dumplings in them too 🙂

Next big adventure was the next camp site near a dried out lake thing where the locals Slaughtered a lamb for Sashlik, the Kyrgyzstan version of a lamb kebabs, they tasted brilliant and even helped with the BBQ starting.
Also it was here Frosty got naked and rode a dokey ( I mean get on his back not shag it 🙂 but maybe he did latter , you never know with these ozzies 🙂

So next up we head off to Tajikistan with some Tough climbing over 10% gradient switch backs and up to over 4300 m meter, near there was the Tajikistan Border crossing we had to wait in cold for ages while the forms got filled and passports to be a stamped, after that we went Down hill on so shit corrugated road it was really tough on my hands and bike and even nearly lost my water bottles with the shaking. Eventually we hit some normal Tarmac road and we got a Tail wind which blew me along at 55 kmph with no peddling , that was another superb moment, riding next to a massive lake (karakul) where we stayed the night next to the lake in the village , it was a very local village for local people with a local shop (league of gentleman reference ) we had to get a man on the street to go and find the shop owner who was repairing his house, he came and opened the shop which had everything you ever think of that you might never need? Super mario figures, glue, magnifying glasses, Hugo boose aftershave , 5 year old biscuits, posters of Britney Spears, photos of other American blonde hair Hollywood stars and most importantly super size snickers.

After that we had more climbing and hard cycling then we camped on a green field next to a wee stream with some local family in tents , the some made me green tea and fed me more yak butter and fresh bread , it was the tastiest and best thing every after a long day In the saddle. I gave her daughter a loome band as a thank you. The women took me out side to see their big massive yak, she was indicating that it was going to get killed for food, what I didn’t realise was that was going to happen in 5 mins, so the men came from nowhere and lead the yak over to near the stream, they were trying to calm it down but the yak knew its time was up, they dug a wee hold and tied its legs together so it fell to the ground, it didn’t give up without a fight and it was wriggling around like mad and trying to get free, we watching from the side lines, taking photos and wondering how they are going to Kill the yak, then a rope snapped and the yak kicked one of the men hard , we crapped ourselves and got a bit further away. They got more rope and retied it, this time there was no escape. The men said a prayer wiped their faces in a prayer motion then got out a huge knife and slit its throat, blood gushing out its neck, the yak gasping for I air making horrible wheezing and gurgling noises, they split the throat further apart more blood more yukky 🙂 noises, the yak kept on breathing or making noises for ages it was quite harrowing it was a very long death, but it was how they have done it for ages and it was the halal way, eventually the yak stopped making noises and they started skinning, slicing and separating the body parts. Over 350kg of meat and bones, we bought 10kg and had the freshest and best yak bourguinone ever. I still think maybe a gun would be better for killing it but I think that’s not halal , it gave me lots to think about and how it’s mad and strange that we in the west are so separated from our food sources and all the killing etc is so hidden away from us, we just go to a super market and it all nicely displayed in a wee plastic packet clean and no sign of the animal it came from? And how in the old days our ancestors used to do this for their meat, it certainly make you appreciate the effort involved in getting a good protein rich meal. Anyway It was the perfect dinner for the next days highest climb of the tour at over 4600 meters on dirt switch back roads, again very hard going because of the altitiude, heat and some over 10%gradients. But I eventually Made it to the top and gave a big moonie bum show to the waiting TDA staff at the top 😉 and the best thing ever happen we had a big beautiful bendy Tarmac downhill road and my random music started playing the Proclaimers “I’m on my way” from misery to happiness today, ah ah ah, one of my favourite songs ever, so I whisked down the hill signing my heart out about greeting (crying) for no reason?
That day near the end I had a strange encounter with a man in a cow field in the middle of nowhere, with no sign of a car or nothing ? I was cycling along and I shouted hello Salam etc, He shouted back in prefect English how are you where you going? I stopped immediately and spoke to him, he was a English teacher, I said what you doing out here? He replied I’m looking for my cow.! Ok I said what dose it look like? He went on to say It’s black with a white face, if I don’t find it my wife will be very upset, I’m sorry I said I have not seen it , he said thanks and offered to house me assist me with where am going and things to see! It was a very strange encounter that had me baffled on how he got there and if he ever did find his cow? Hope he did fingers crossed!

We luckily stayed in a hotel at murgeb that night and got delicious spagetti soup, lamb pasties and lamb shashlik served in another cosy cool yurt. We explored the funny shopping street which it all made out of shipping containers, turned into shops selling everything from hats, scarfs and mars bars.

Next up we cycled to our camp site at a hot springs, another long hard head wind filled cycled so it was ace to eat some more great food at the got spring then go and soak in the boiling hot water. It was pretty manky and dirty but I did not care I just wanted to ease my legs, it felt great, however that night was not so good I had mistakenly camped where the hot spring dog hung about so all night it howled and barked, I had to throw my sandals at it and still it wouldn’t shut up Frosty even hit with a stone but still it howled. This went on all night, also I kind of had the shits I was out the tent 7 times pooing in the field and feeling crap so no much sleep for me, I woke up a very unhappy camper 🙂 with a 130 km to ride that next morning.

I took the 130 km easy style stopping loads of time chats with the local and to drink coke eat biscuits, twixs, ice cream and anything I could get my hands on. Eventually I made it to Korog, after some specular Scenery , very friendly locals, excited kids , cheering passengers,

Another mad experience that day was we also met a man driving a very posh white land cruiser, he had a missing finger and was carring a hand gun, loads of bullets in a harness and in the back of his car there was a Kalashnikov machine gun, he was being friendly and got out his car asked where we came from , I said scotland he was was all happy saying celts ,celts and miming wearing a kilt, so I knew he was truly friendly and not going to shoot us all, he got his machine gun out and proudly stood for photos ,so we took some photos and he wished us all the best, we found out latter he is a local character who was once in the army and the fought against the government in a civil war a few years ago, and he is a bit crazy and he “protects” the town? Just another day on the Silk Road 🙂

Any way I’m off for food now , going to a Indian restaurant In Korog
For a few Dhals and a beer

Am loving the 2 Stan’s I’ve been in so for , so beautiful and friendly, however really suit Internet so no many blog posts, or photos or Facebook sorry. I will post load when I get better connection.