Day 18: Hitchhiking through the north
Visa for Turkmenistan
First the good news of today. My transit visa request for Turkmenistan got finally approved. Which means that I will start crossing Turkmenistan on April 18 and should leave the country again on April 22. So I have 5 days for 500 km. As the visa is strictly bound to the indicated dates, this means that we should leave Iran in 7 days from now. And from Amol, that’s still around 850 km of distance. Definitely too much, considering that we also want to spend at least one full day in Mashad. Since the roads and traffic here in the north of Iran are not very bike-friendly and the weather was windy and rainy, we decided to skip 350 km today with public transport and by hitchhiking. The goal was to reach Golestan National Park in the evening.
Lunch break in Behschahr
The first bus we took in Amol ended in Behschahr, and we planned to continue right with the next bus. But as soon as we got off the bus, we were approached again with invitations for tea and lunch. We tried to resist, but failed. The result was, we had lunch at a very nice house of a local family. It was clearly obvious that they were not poor, and I was told later on that his father was boss of a bank, and his father’s father as well. Even the son aged 28 had more savings on his bank account than many Swiss in that age. Needless to say that this lunch took its time, and we only continued with the next bus at 15:00. But it was worth the stop, the family was very nice and because the guy is an English teacher, for once we could have some deeper conversations than the usual “Where are you from?” and “How do you like Iran?”
Hitchhiking in Azadshahr
The next bus ended in Azadshar. But unlike in Behschahr, almost no buses went further on, and after trying to hitchhike for 45 minutes, some local guys organized a pickup with driver which took us too Lowe, a place with famous waterfalls and at the edge of Golestan National Park. We were passing at countless green and yellow fields, forests and grass, completely unlike the vegetation of the other parts of Iran we have seen in the past few days. When we arrived in Lowe it was already dark and instead of camping outside in the rain, our driver organized some cheap accommodation in a local home. This time not completely free, but for a good price. Tomorrow we will start exploring the national park which is supposed to be very beautiful. I will then hopefully also have more photos to share.