Moritz Ecker - Blog

WITH A BIKE AND A GUITAR AROUND THE WORLD – НА ДРУГОЙ КОНЕЦ СВЕТА

Month: August 2017

Uzbekistan

samarkand

I took a train to Samarkand in Uzbekistan to speed up a bit and to get to the other side of Turkmenistan. There you have some great medieval islamic architecture but I didn’t feel like staying long. After all the waiting for the Turkmen Visa I felt like getting back on the bike.

uzbekistan money

One bizarre thing about Uzbekistan is the money. Each of these bills is worth around 0.15 Euro, so if you change 20$ at one of the guys with the big black plastic bags you end up with a huge pile of paper. No chance to fit it into a wallet.

sheep uzbekistan

A group of sheep somewhere in Uzbekistan.

breakfast uzbekistan

This is after a breakfast concert along the road in Uzbekistan between Samarkand and Tashkent.

mini bus uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is proud about having their own car factory. This mini bus is very popular, it is actually mini but they still manage to squeeze an impressive amount of Uzbeks into it.

Kazakhstan #1

Arriving in Aktau, Kazakhstan back on the Caspian Sea I realized that after putting my bike back together it wasn’t in such a good state at all. If you haven’t changed your chain for 6000km you don’t have to do it anymore.

camp salt lake

This is my campspot in the vast nothingness of the Kazakh steppe, next to a salt lake. I saw some wolfs on the other side but thankfully thought it was some sort of tiny horses. So, I had a good sleep.

straight road kazakhstan

Another straigth road in Kazakhstan.

camels kazakhstan

One great thing about the steppe in west Kazakhstan are the camels. They are hanging out along the road, eating some dusty dry plants. I guess they belong to somebody but here they are walking around freely. Amazingly calm animals!

Iran

Arriving in Iran I was a bit overwhelmed by the big interest people suddenly had in two sweaty and dirty idiots on their bicycles.

iran speed limit

This is in Iran right after the border, they’ve got their own numbers and unlike arabic letters they work in the same direction as arabic numbers from left to right (which way do you read a number anyways? probably Iranians think the same the other way around)

view of azerbaijan from iran

The other side of the river that’s Azerbaijan.

view of azerbaijan 2

Azerbaijan is mainly east of Armenia but has an island of it’s territory west of Armenia too, this is the west part viewed from the Iranian side.

melons tabriz

This is in Tabriz. Seems like Iran is swimming in mellons, you can buy them everywhere and at any time of the day.

firouzabad

Here’s a company I played for in Firouzabad. The guy on the phone is some local politician and they said he’s from Ahmadinejad’s party so I was a bit concerned but they let me play on the street. In Iran they have by the way lemon ice cream with noodles in it.

Somewhere on the way Tom had to flight back to Australia and so I kept on cycling on my own through the Iranian mountains, slowly approaching the Caspian Sea only that now it was very hot, dry and no more trees that would spend some shadow.

alborz after khalkhal

This is after Khalkhal on the way down to the Caspian Sea. In general Iran is very dry and hot but towards the sea it get more humid (and hot). In this djungle they told me used to live the caspian tiger before it went extinct. I went this way on a friday and the whole 50km were like a big festival area were Iranians go on their weekend to do barbecue.

beach caspian sea

Seems like the entire coast of the Caspian Sea is a holiday resort where Iranians from the south go in summer to escape the heat. Still it’s bloody hot and doesn’t get much colder at night.

selfie guys

On the road random people stop do do selfies. I must be on plenty iranian selfie-instagram channels. These guys were pretty chillaxed and wearing a shirt with an America flag in Iran is kind of a statement.

ramsar palm trees

Ramsar is an old bathing place in the Mazandaran province south of the Alborz mountains. With enjoyable +40 degrees and 85% humidity.

What I understood about mountains is that the higher you get the colder it gets. Now the Caspian Sea is a huge depression at 28 meters below sea level, so you can imagine it is very hot there plus the humidity is really high which makes it super exhausting to cycle.

Somewhere on the way I must had a bad kebab or heat humidity and overall exhaustion did their job but somewhere on the Caspian Sea I started to feel my physical limits. Thankfully Iranians are very hospitable people, especially I have to thank Mohammad from Gorgan who helped me regain my strength.

bojnurd breakfast

This is after another breakfast concert in Bojnurd. Breakfast in Iran is usually Omlette which means Eggs and tomato paste.

sari shops

This is in Sari on the way in Mazandaran south of the Caspian Sea

iran traffic

Along the road in North Iran – lots of traffic near the Caspian Sea and of course motorcycles

red crescent guitar

red crescent room

This is when I stayed at the red crescent. I played some songs for them and they liked my guitar and made kebab.

north iran traktor

A lonely traktor on a field in Northwestern Iran

side wind iran

I always thought headwinds is the worst but actually strong wind from the side is even worse, pushing you of the road into the gravel.

golestan national park

Looking back on Golestan National Park

iran evening

At higher altitude the temperatures are dropping at least at night.

desert east of mashhad

This is already after Mashhad in the desert on the way to the Turkmenistan border.

iran desert 1

iran desert 2

Cycling the whole day in the heat of the east Iranian desert without a single bit of shadow.

Arriving at the Turkmenistan border I still hadn’t received my Turkmenistan visa. (If I can give an advice here: Never ever apply for a visa through an agency called ‘König Tours’ in Frankfurt am Main. They did a really terrible job here and I still don’t know if my visa was actually denied. I suspect, they never applied and took the money to buy a ticket for a Scorpions concert. Screw you!)

Anyways, after facing a massive police presence around the border I took a train back to Mashhad an waited another five days until I eventually gave up, packed up my bike and took a plane to cross Turkmenistan by air. However, I spend some exciting days in Mashhad, spending half a day in the immigration office to extend my Iranian Visa where I met some Afghans who fortunately spoke german (with a swiss acent) and helped me out, playing a little concert in a money exchange office and here’s a song I played in the backyard of my guesthouse. Thanks to Sanaz for filming!

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