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Day 238-243: We made it to the Persian gulf even one day before Christmas. This is one of the special moments on a cycling trip. For the first time I put my sweaty feed in the persian gulf, which is still a little bit cold at the moment. But the air temperature is high enough to wear a T-shirt. After watching the sunset, we go to camp “Iran-style”, in the middle of a public park.
Tomorrow we want to cycle a little bit further to find a campsite for Christmas evening. What we don’t know yet.. We are just at the beginning of Iran’s biggest petrochemical sites. 80 kilometers of ugly and bad smelling industries.
On the next day, the mood is at rock bottom. Our plan to cycle a little bit further along the coast to find a nice place seems to fail miserably.
This area is one of the most insane places I have seen. Every little space along the coast is used for the production plants. They pump gas out of the ground and process it. There are also many other industries which depend on byproducts of the gas. This surroundings remind me of the film Mad Max, where the civilisation has collapsed and the nature as we know it has been extinct, leaving a hostile, dusty environment behind. Anyone who has seen this film knows what I mean. I feel like beeing in this apocalyptic scenario where the air smells like someone forgot to turn of the gas stove, mixed with a sulfur odor. Huge flame towers, called flairs dominate over the many factories. The gas, which cannot be processed it burned on the top of these towers in huge flames. The flames are so big that their flickering makes a deep, threatening bass sound. Absolutely crazy! This will be the worst Christmas eve ever!
Later, it becomes even more spooky. We cycle past a huge ghost town and reach a city named Asalouyeh, which is located in between those industries. There we this scary statue:
It must be horrible for the people who live here when the politics decided to claim this area to build huge industrial parks. I doubt that it is healthy to live in this polluted area. In Asalouyeh we try to contact Couchsurfing hosts but we fail to find someone.
The mood of all three of us is again down realizing that our plan will not work out. At least we are still in Iran, let’s hope for a good thing happening. Iran, please don’t dissapoint us this time.
This is the first Christmas for me where gifts are given before the evening. And what a great gift! One Iranian guy replied our request on Couchsurfing. Mahmood is not only a cycle enthusiast but also member in a sports club with a dormitory for the sport students. Later, he will pick us up and we ride together to the place followed by a dozen children on motorcycles who apparently are very interested in us.
Mahmood organizes two rooms for us in the dormitory and even has another surprise for us. He is working in the petrol industries and explains us a lot about everything works here. He tells us that the people who live here are kind of glad that the industries are here, because they bring a lot of money to this poor area. “Do you want to see my company?” he asks us, “We can see the flairs from very close distance”. It is already dark and we go for a ride through the world of Mad Max.
Driving through this place in the night is truly incredible. The light of the flairs shines so bright that the entire wall of the mountain is illuminated. I am amazed of this scenery in the night and it looks much less threatening than during the day. Every attempt to capture this place with the camera fails, due to the brightness of the flames. It is strangely magical. “Hey guys”, I speak to Claire and Felix, “Don’t you think that the flame towers look like huge Christmas candles?”, ” Merry Christmas to you!”
I am glad that our Christmas eve turned out to be a very special moment with an incredible host, Mahmood. As always, Iran didn’t disappoint us. I cannot believe that this will be the last week for me in this great country. I am a little bit sad to leave Iran soon with the ferry to Dubai, but also excited to see a completely different world. But there will be still a few interesting places to see on the way to Bandar Abbas where the ferry departs, such as the islands Qeshm and the so called “Rainbow Island”, Hormuz.
Flairs from distance – the biggest Christmas candles ever
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