20th July 2015:
The land of the friendliest and most hospitable people that you could meet anywhere.
Leaving Ashgabat our intention was to top up with fuel, using our last Turkmenistan money before reaching the border. You guessed it!!, not a fuel station in sight and we were at the border before we knew it.
No problems leaving Turkmenistan as there was only one car and a couple of trucks going through at the same time. There is about a 1/2 km of no mans land between the border posts and people crossing the border have to walk it, there being no busses or other form of transport. As we were waiting a young lady (mid twenties) and an old lady were doing the walk in 40 degree temperatures lugging their heavy bags. The young lady was carrying the older lady’s heavy bag but just the same the old lady still had to carry a couple of bags. It hardly seemed right. We were able to offer water although the old lady refused. She was certainly made of stern stuff.
Arriving at the Iranian border post everyone was very polite and welcoming. The passport control officer gave us priority over a large group of Turkmenistan people who had arrived by bus. The whole process including getting our carnet stamped was carried out with great efficiency and politeness. Once our carnet had been stamped the officer explained that our cars needed to be inspected, once by him and also by Customs. As he approached the cars he informed us that he needed to check the chassis and engine numbers. I thought to myself ‘this could be interesting’ as the engine number on my papers do not match the engine number on the engine thanks to the laziness of the Vehicle Inspection people I used in Perth. I think they forgot to overwrite an existing number in their computer so that the Inspection Report for my car carries someone else’s engine number. The Department of Transport and the Automobile Association (who issued the carnet) both used the engine number on the Inspection Report so that now my papers are incorrect. It is a serious offence to give false information to Custom officers, but as I only became aware of this when the car arrived in Malaysia what can I do?. It is a bit stressful every time the car is inspected, at both the entry and exit of each country – so far 22 times.
Luckily the officer only inspected the compliance plate that shows the correct chassis number. Once everything had been inspected and found to be in order we were free to go. There was one more control at the bottom of the hill where we had to hand over a bit of paper. Whoops!! Someone had forgotten to put the necessary stamp on it. Whilst Barry and Mike waited at the last control I drove back up the hill with a guard. A 1/2 hour later with papers probably stamped we entered Iran.
The mountain area immediately on entering Iran was stunning after the arid landscapes of Turkmenistan. With our stomachs in our mouth we headed for the town of Quchon some 60kms to the south hoping that our meagre supply of petrol would hold out. Barry had tipped the spare 10 litres of fuel he carried into his car at the border. We both entered Quchon running on the smell of an oily rag but finally found a fuel station on the other side of town.
Sorry photos are still not possible.