Eric Smart is back on his bike again after spending the Christmas and New Year period in eastern Turkey trying but failing to obtain a via to enter Iran. He'll now be turning left instead of right and will take the long way round – heading for Georgia, Azerbijan, Kazakstan and China before pedalling on to south east Asia and his final destination in Adelaide, south Australia.
After three weeks in Erzurum in eastern Turkey, close to the Iranian border, he sent this email to his supporters this morning.
At last I am back on the road and heading north to Georgia then Azerbijan, Kazakhstan and China. Spent 7 hours on the computer yesterday planning and checking everything. I have jumped through enough hoops for the Iranian Consulate and given them everything they want and more but I guess Brits are just not the flavour of the month. I have met other Brits and two French who have also been turned down Popped back in this morning as a last gasp try but no joy. Anyway I have let it go now. Perhaps I just got a little too attached to getting it and could not see the way ahead without it – a big lesson in non attachment.
I do not need a visa for Georgia but I do need a visa and a letter of introduction for Azerbijan (Denise could you please sound out Jimmy about this. I would contact him direct but I do not know if he is still in Azerbijan – you mentioned he was maybe moving jobs!). I need visas for Kazakhstan and China but no letters of ıntro are required, so it should be an easier process. No idea what the weather will be like but it cannot be any colder than the minus 38 it was here last week!
I am fine and I have had a good rest and am ready to go. Today is a little milder so it will allow me to ease my way back into it without freezing before I get up some speed!
Thanks for all the emails and I shall reply to them over the next week or so. As well as investing a lot of time on the visa application I also spent 12 days travelling 200 km's north of Erzurum with a tourist boss I bumped into so I know the area very well. It is a beautiful ride to Georgia with also the mandatory hills.
I hope you are all fine and have recovered from the over indulgences of the festive period – it sounds like Marion and I were the only two to behave ourselves! I have written some of the blog for Turkey and shall finish it soon. So much for instincts – I thought I would get the visa. Perhaps they need a little fine tuning. However I am more than happy to be heading for Georgia.
Take care a'body and lots of love …Eck xx
Eric hopes to make it to Adelaide in southern Auatralia some time in 2010. He's well on his way to reaching his fundraising target of £12,000 for The ME Association, after suffering from the illness for several years. To make a donation online, please click HERE.