The Caspian Sea

Barbecue with Azem and Farag
Barbecue with Azem and Farag

I finally got all the paperwork done in Tehran: I got the visa for Uzbekistan and applied for the Turkmenistan visa which I hopefully can pick up end of next week in Mashhad.

Now I went to Sari in the Mazandaran province near the Caspian Sea. A local guy I met in the Damavand high camp invited me here. It's great. The people I met here are more wealthy with big comfortable houses and chilled out lifes. We had a barbecue and played ping pong (i won every single game!)

The women were relaxed and no one was wearing a head scarf. There was even alcohol, home-made 'Arak'. They said it's vodka, it tasted horrible.

7 hour bus ride to Sari
7 hour bus ride to Sari

Ich bin in Sari, praktisch am Kaspischen Meer. Ein Bergsteiger, den ich in Camp 3 am Damavand getroffen hab, hat mich eingeladen.

In Teheran hab ich mein Uzbekistan - Visum bekommen und das für Turkmenistan beantragt. Dieses kann ich Ende nächster Woche hoffentlich in Mashhad abholen. 

Sari liegt nicht auf dem Weg nach Mashhad und um Zeit zu sparen bin ich mit dem Bus gefahren (7 Stunden).

Hier in Sari sind die Leute scheinbar wohlhabender. Sie habe große und Schöne Häuser / Wohnungen und einen entspannten Lifestyle. 

Gestern waren wir Grillen. Die Frauen trugen keine Kopftücher (es war ein Privatgrundstück) und es gab sogar Alkohol. Selbstgebrannter Arak, es schmeckt furchtbar. 

Donkeys
Donkeys

On days 95 to 97 I went hiking on the north Tehran mountain ridge. It was truly spectacular. The hiking trails start just where Tehran ends. You can literally start hiking in Tehran and climb mountains that are almost 4000m high (Tochal is 3964m). There are some big walls for rock climbing too but I stuck to the normal routes (I was alone).
For the first kilometer about 100 little restaurants line the small river. It looked beautiful but all restaurants were closed. It's definitely a disadvantage being here during Ramadan. I would have loved to chill at one of those cafés.

I bought a sun hat
I bought a sun hat

Nach der Damavand - Expedition und einem Ruhetag bin ich in die Bergkette nördlich von Teheran aufgebrochen. 3 Tage (Tag 95 bis 97) war ich in dieser wunderschönen Gegend wandern und hab dabei 3 Gipfel erklommen:

- Kolakchal 3343m

- Piazchal ~3500m

- Tochal 3964m


Das Zelt hatte ich nicht dabei und hab stattdessen unter freiem Himmel geschlafen. Obwohl ich auf über 3000m übernachtet hab, war es nicht kalt. Die Temperaturen in Teheran reichen fast bis an die 50 °C (jedenfalls in der Sonne).

I was still very exhausted from the Damavand expedition and wanted to find a camping spot asap. I saw a promising area and stumbled upon 7 Iranians who had a picnic party going. I was immediately included. It was great. Communication was difficult but I understood that they haze their (arab/islamic) government. They see themselves as persian. I got that from a lot of people actually. They knew almost nothing about western culture, ie. movies, music and so on. But then what do I know about persian pop culture? (The answer is nothing, but I looked it up. Verdict: Terrible).
The Iranians packed up their stuff and left just as it got completely dark. They had to walk down at least one hour, carrying lots of stuff but no lights or torches.. weird.
I didn't sleep well. Dogs were scavenging around. They even managed to get one of my food bags from the tree :(
There was also plenty of mosquitos and sand flies.
I got up early and ascended Kolakchal first. It was steep and rocky but there were ladders, steps and ropes to secure the path. I continued over the entire ridge up to Mount Tochal. I took it slowly with plenty of breaks. In the afternoon I stopped at two different shelters but eventually made bivouac out in the open, overlooking Tehran from about 3000m.

Nach dem Damavand war ich echt platt und hab es langsam angehen lassen. 

Die Berge schließen sich direkt an das Stadtgebiet von Teheran an. Man kann im Stadtzentrum losgehen und fast bis auf 4000m hochklettern. Ich find das echt geil.

Zu Beginn gibt es unzählige Restaurants und Cafés. Leider waren alle geschlossen wegen Ramadan. Echt doof, denn die Cafés sahen sehr einladend aus.

Es ist hier so, dass Restaurants / Cafés tagsüber öffnen dürfen während Ramadan, wenn sie eine Gebühr oder Strafe zahlen. Die Mehrzahl ist geschlossen. 

To Sari I took the bus. It was a huge detour and I don't have enough time due to visa restrictions.

Sari is the near the Caspian Sea.  I checked it out. It's the biggest lake in the world and looks alright (I'm not a beach person). Not very many people were there and most went to water in wearing their clothes. Women must do that, otherwise they will go to prison.

Sari liegt praktisch am Kaspischen Meer. Der größte See der Welt sieht ganz nett aus, aber ich bevorzuge die Berge.

Die meisten Leute gehen übrigens mit langen Sachen angezogen ins Wasser. Frauen dürfen eh keine Haut zeigen (außer in speziellen Bereichen, die Männer nicht sehen dürfen; es gibt dort einen riesigen Sichtschutz).