On my way to Chalus on the shores of the Caspian Sea driven in darkness across the Alborz Mountains from Tehran, I discovered two things I did not know beforehand. Both of these events turned out to be in equal degree unforgettable and adrenaline-inducing as I was mentally prepared for neither.
The first was that the mountain drive known as the Chalus Road or Road 59 is actually a true epic mountain crossing involving numerous tunnels and switchbacks taking us five hours (more if you include the stop for soup at the highest point ) to make the 200 km journey.
The second thing I found out was that I would be arriving at a seaside holiday resort just in time for the climax of the public mourning of Muharram known as Ashura, the most important and solemn religious event in the Shi’a Calendar when everything shuts down, all manner of amusement and fun are forbidden and people dress themselves in funereal attire .
All words and photographs Copyright Kerk Boon Leng October 2016