>> Rock formation on a hill just outside of Bijar. Looks like a bird’s head complete with beak. Mum sees it as two lions fighting. What do u see?
At 1pm we stopped for fuel and a family fuelling up next to us walked up and gave us a melon. At this point, we are very used to people coming up to us and giving us various local food items from sunflower seeds to gaz (ie. nougat) and melon juice. In return we gave the children chocolate biscuits we brought from Malaysia (we have a stack of tit bits from Malaysia conveniently located in the car, all ready to give away).
At 2.12pm, we came to yet another police check point. We are now a few minutes away from Saqqez town. We stopped for lunch and a rest at Saqqez. The temperature is about 43oC.
At 4.40pm we left Saqqez and 10 minutes later we came to another police check point. This check point was different from the rest that we have passed through. In addition to the usual passport checks, the policeman used a hand held bom detector and walked around Our Sorento checking for boms. He asked a few questions and as it turns out, we were driving in the wrong direction. After taking some directions from the policemen, we made a U-turn and took the correct road heading further north.
At 5.20pm, 5.40pm and 6.50pm, well.. you guessed it.. some more police check points, this time near Saqqez Industrial Town, Bukan town and 25km outside Mahabad town, respectively.
We arrived at Mahabad at 7.30pm and stayed here for the night (26 August 2012).
The next day we made our way from Mahabad towards Khoy passing through Urmia. First, we had to get some breakfast.
>> Dad waiting for our breakfast to be made at this tiny shop in Mahabad.
There are many road side peddlers selling similar wraps for breakfast but we decided to go for the ones in the shop.
>> Baked potatoes, one boiled egg, chives, butter and seasoning are mashed together and wrapped in flat bread makes a yummy and very filling breakfast. A welcome break from the usual bread, cheese and tomato breakfast.
I think it is only in Mahabad that you could get this particular breakfast. We have not seen this in all the other towns we have been to in Iran. Do try it if you ever find yourself in this part of the world.
Customers can help themselves to tea from this tea pot. If you are having breakfast on the go, the shop keeper allows you to take some tea in your own flask >>
>> We passed through two police check points in the morning before passing by this lake just after Naqadeh town.
>> Corn fields near Urmia Lake.
>> Southern tip of Urmia Lake seen along Urmia-Mahabad road / route 11. The lake is almost completely dry this time of the year.
>> Another view of Urmia Lake.
This Lake is the world's third largest salt water lake and the largest lake in the Middle East.
We reached the town of Salmas at 3pm for a break. Dad rested in a park opposite a row of houses while Mum and I drove towards the city center in search of a public toilet. We found one soon enough but as luck would have it, the police stopped us. He did not speak a word of English but after some hand waving and pointing, I figured out that he must be asking why our car plate number is not in Persian. I tried to explain that we were tourist and that my dad, who owns the car, was just some distance away, if only he could let us get to him. He insisted that we had broken some law and asked me to handover the car keys. No way was I handing over the keys. This frustrated him and he drove us to the police station. At this time, half panicking, I had the idea of calling Mr Ali (our translator back in Bandar Abbas) and asked his help to speak to the police for us. At the police station, Mr Ali spoke to another police officer (I believe more senior that the one who had stopped us) and after checking original copies of the shipping documents for Our Sorento, the officer decided that no laws was broken and told us we could go. The policemen who stopped us apologized profusely and we left, happy to be back with dad again. The lesson learned here is that it is better for women to not drive alone. We have never been questioned about our Malaysian plate number in the countless police check points we have driven through with dad in the car. Needless to say, mum and I will never drive out by ourselves ever again.
>> Local baclava and cookies for tea.
>> Naser Bakhtiar (3rd from left) and his family. They were visiting their parents who stayed in the house with the green door, opposite the park that we were resting in. We had tea together and chatted for a few hours. Mum made some Malaysian curry for them (hopefully they liked it). We took a photo before leaving Salmas to head towards Khoy.
On the next day (28 August 2012), we travelled from Khoy towards the border town of Bazargan. Along the way, we had to go through 5 police check points before reaching Bazargan at 7.30pm. The frequent interval of police checks we had passed through the last three days is quite understandable as we were very close to the Iraq and Turkish border.
We stopped over at Maku, 21km away from Bazargan, to fuel up, give Our Sorento a thorough wash and servicing. The engine oil / filter change cost us 440,000 Rials (8 litres engine oil included in the price and we brought our own oil filters). The car wash cost 100,000 Rials - it probably is a bit pricy but the guy did bump us up the queue and wiped the car dry afterwards (all other cars drove away wet), so, we are not complaining.
Here’s some pics taken en route from Khoy to Bazargan:
>> Mountains and greeneries near Qarahziyaeddin town.
>> We drove passed acres of sunflower plantations on the road from Khoy to Qarahziyaeddin. There were only some patches still having yellow heads struggling to keep their face pointing towards the sun, like the ones in this photo. Most of the sunflowers were in various stages of drying out.
I’m guessing if we were here a month or so earlier, the view would have been fantastic – stunning blanket of yellow cutting across brown land and blue skies dotted with white clouds as far as the eye can see.
>> Giant sunflower plants seems to be a norm in Iran. The sunflower head is probably as large as my head! Fascinating!Left, me with a sunflower stalk