The End? The following week we reach Persepolis. The tents are pitched at the first and only official camp site we have seen in Iran, and we stride through the Gate of All Nations early the next morning. The burned-down ruin is more than epic. Sitting among giant pillars, old palace foundations and incredibly detailed bas-reliefs, we muse about the not-fullysolved question of the city’s burning. Favoring the hypothesis that the pomp city was lit a fire by accident, during the victory celebrations following its sacking by Alexander the Great, we conclude it had a dignified ending.
It is a delicate situation and the expenses are high, both in terms of money and nerves, as we fight the smothering heat and humidity in Bandar Abbas. Nonetheless, with the invaluable help of our friend Mehdi, Hannes flies back to Germany and I fly to Thailand. Bangkok’s big bike scene gives me a more than hearty welcome and with the help of my new friends, I manage to pick up our two bikes in Malaysia a month later and together we ride them up to Bangkok.
That evening we are sitting by our tents and talking to an Iranian family on holidays we’d just met, when Hannes’ mobile rings. As he tells me the news I can see the familiar smile has left his face. He has to cancel the journey for a family emergency and return to Germany as soon as possible. After careful consideration we decide to pause the trip at this point. Hannes’ bike has to leave Iran due to custom restrictions and if I was to ride through Pakistan and India on my own, he would have to ship it back to Germany. We agree to end the journey as we started it, as a team, and take off the next morning to ship the bikes and myself to Southeast Asia.
After a few jaunts into the muddy Thai monsoon I take a plane to Australia trusting the two XRs in the care of a good mate. It is a hard call to leave my beloved bike behind, but my girlfriend is waiting for me in Australia, determined to buy a 4WD car. As much as I dread it, I give my trusty Honda a final loving scrub and board the airplane. Knowing she will be safe, I stop being a motorbike traveller for a while, counting the days until I will finally meet up with Hannes again and continue the ride heading east again. Always east; first to Australia, and then a little further, inshallah, as our Iranian friends would say.