Woke up from a good night’s sleep and prepared ourselves for our border crossing into Iran. Before we checked out of the hotel, all of us said a prayer for our journey to be a safe one. Amiin. Breakfast was just a few plums and apricots as we had to walk to the bus station where we could get a minivan to the Iranian border. We wanted to be early as we wanted to catch the bus from Bazargan in Iran to Maku where we could take the bus to Tabriz and then on to Shiraz which was our next planned destination.
At the bus station, we packed our bags onto the minivan that is suppose to take us to the Iranian border. As we had to wait for other passengers to fill up the bus, the locals at the bus stop were generous enough to invite us to join them for tea. We left Dogubayazit when the mini van was full, 12 passengers altogether. The bus made a few stops on the way dropping off passengers who were working at a nearby hotel and a shepherd boy who had to take care of his herd of lambs along the way.
After 30 minutes, we arrived at a big gate with a big Turkish Flag on it. We had to walk about 800 metres uphill to arrive at the Turkish Border Control gate. While waiting for our turn I exchanged all our Turkish Lira for Iranian Rials with a black marketeer. There were a lot of people waiting in the queue as there was only one gate that was operating. The jump the queue syndrome was there but it was stopped after the Turkish Police officers started waving their batons. Again the normal questions were asked and answered. The Turkish officials were very polite and stamped my passport with a smile.
We made our way to the Iranian Border Gate and was stopped by a uniformed police officer in combat fatigues. He glanced through our passports and welcomed us to the Islamic Republic of Iran with a smile. Our drama began when the Iranian Immigration Officer asked us about our Iranian Visa. I explained to him that Malaysians were given Visa on Arrival at Iranian entry points. I told him that the Visa I had was issued to me at the Khomeni International Airport. He was adamant that Malaysians need to apply a Visa to enter Iran. After all the exchanges of facts on the issuance of the Visa , we were DENIED entry into Iran. PERIOD!!!!
Our passports were taken and given back to the Turkish Immigration as they had to cancel the exit stamp that was in our passports. The Iranian Officers told us that there is an Iranian Consulate in the town of Erzurum that was 8 hours away where we could apply our Iranian Visa. I changed back my Iranian Rials to Turkish Lira with the same black marketeer. We waked back to the bus stop where we alighted a couple of hours ago. We took a mini van back to Dogubayazit and went back to the bus station to inquire about buses to Erzurum., There was a bus to Erzurum which was leaving in an hour. We managed to get the tickets for the bus ride. I did not enjoy this ride as the mind was more of the Visa rather than the scenery. We stopped a couple of times and it was early evening when the bus made a stop at a small town and told us to get off there as we were supposed to get on the feeder bus to Erzurum. Luck was with us when an Iranian medical student was there to help us with our predicament. It took us nearly an hour to reach Erzurum.
The feeder bus stopped at the Erzarum local bus station and we had a late lunch there. We then checked into a hotel where we spent the night. What a day…….If only I had persisted to the Immigration Officer @ the Tehran Khomeni Airport to issue us multiple Visas the night we arrived Tehran….Things always happens for a reason then…..