Leg 11 / Etapa 11

11th Leg: Abadan – Baghdad


This leg, practically from Shiraz (Iran) to Baghdad (Iraq) was one of the most dramatic in my trip. Not only in Teheran, but in Shiraz and Abadan too, nobody was able to tell me was I able to pass the border near Khorramshahr. I sat in the bus, whose route was Abadan, Khorramshahr and then somewhere towards the North. The driver promised that he would stop somewhere “near the border”.

The bus was unreal: air condition, spacious with 2 rows of seats on one side and only one row of seats on the other, a stewardess offering sweets… It felt like in the airplane.

But, the enjoyment didn’t last long. The moment we left the bus station in Khorramshahr and entered a desert like area, strong wind and sand storm began.  After around 10 minutes, the bus stopped.  I didn’t notice any sign on the road side.  I didn’t notice anything except sand.  The driver told me that it is my stop.  He pointed to one direction and said: “Iraq is there, just go straight 3-4km”.

Then I noticed the road which was almost covered with sand.  It was obvious that nobody had used the road for a long time. The sandstorm was stronger and stronger and, after some time, I didn’t see the road anymore but sand only. Visibility was less and less, max 5-10 meters. Strong wind, sand and sun.  I remember crossing some trenches with barbed wire, saw some silhouettes of house-like objects, looked demolished, burned and, definitely abandoned.  I couldn’t see anybody.

I am not sure how long I walked.  I was not sure if it was the right direction anymore. I was sure that I made more than 4kms. After some time, the wind almost stopped and visibility became better, I saw a house that looked inhabited (a car was parked in front of it).  It appeared to be Iraqi border checkpoint. It seems that I missed the Iranian checkpoint due to the sandstorm.

(Later, I checked on the map.  It seems that it was Iran-Iraq border at Shalamche)

My happiness that I finally found the Iraqi checkpoint, was short lived.  I met with new problems.

  • Iraqi soldiers were shocked to see somebody coming from Iran
  • Second, my appearance was pretty unusual (to put it mildly) for them: long hair, short trousers (what remained of my torn blue jeans), big backpack with rolled sleeping bag etc. Later, I understood why was that: I didn’t meet even one foreigner in Iraq. Children were following me on each step as if they had seen an alien.
  • Third: the question was if anybody can pass the Iran-Iraq border in that place.
  • Fourth: If it is possible, does it mean that I, with my passport, can cross the border.

All that was creating chaos in their heads since, obviously, nothing was happening there for a long time except some conflicts with the opposite side from time to time.

After some time of studying some big books of their own and my passport (with “Tito” and “good, good”), they decided that I could enter Iraq.  I am not sure that they were convinced or it was the easiest solution at that point.

Now, they had to see what I had in my backpack.  I felt sick.  They took out everything I had there.  It was packed so that you would not be able to put even a needle inside. I was not worried that they found a few knives I bought in Afghanistan, kukri (Gurkha knife, kind of machete) I bought in Nepal, a wooden snake (they managed to break), but how I would put all back in to the backpack.

It seems that problems never end.  The new one was with the camera and undeveloped film and slide roles. What was I taking photos of? Am I a spy? Suddenly, again: what am I doing here.

I really had a hard time explaining that I am only a student of architecture and travel around the world, but not a spy.

All communication was in a kind of English; mine not so good English at that time and their English which was at the level of my, say Chinese or Japanese. When everything was settled, all of us were tired of “communication” mostly by hands.

Now I was ready to continue the trip.

The new “small” problem: How to reach Basra?  The city is about 10-15km from the check point.  The sandstorm stopped, the sky was clear but, walking 10-15km through a desert with temperature 40-50°C with heavy backpack was not so pleasant.

It appeared that the car I saw in front of the checkpoint was a taxi and the taxi driver came to visit one of the soldiers.  He was about to go to Basra and I was to be a good, unexpected customer.  The fare of ID1.5 (approx. $6-7) was not acceptable.  It was around 15% of my budget at that moment.  I didn’t have any other solution but to walk.  Finally, he changed his mind and gave me a lift, free of charge.

I was not interested in Basra, so I continued my trip to Nasiriyah.

In Nasiriyah, I attracted the attention of some youngsters.  When they realized who I was, they sent me to a hotel.  It was a one storey building with approx. 8-10 rooms. It appeared that it was some kind of Youth hotel but – free.  It seems that I was the only guest.  The first thing was to take a shower and go to sleep.

The next day, I went to see the ziggurat at Ur. Again sun, sand, dust … but I enjoyed the scenery.

Babylon was the place I was dreaming of and I was really looking forward to seeing. The scenery I saw was not what I had imagined on the basis of stories about the Hanging Gardens and legends.  I found only kind of foundations and the beginning of excavations.  Later on, Saddam Hussein made a lot of renovations.  He almost made the city as it was originally (except the Hanging Gardens)

I remember the kind of youth hotel in Hillah (city next to Babylon). On the basis of Nasiriyah experience, I tried to find the Youth hotel (and free accommodation) in Hillah. I didn’t need much time. Actually, it was part of some sport centre.  It was kind of a hotel for sports teams coming from the other cities. Everything works as an ordinary hotel except – it was free.

A group of young people were playing table tennis.  I attracted their attention and they asked if I wanted to play with them.  It appeared that I was better than all of them.  I was a real attraction: my appearance and table tennis skills (I used to play a bit as a student).  Since then, not only that I had free accommodation, but free food too.  They were competing among themselves who would be a better host.

11. Etapa: Abadan – Baghdad


Ova etapa od Siraza (Shiraz) do Bagdada je mozda bila jedna od nadramaticnijih na mom putu.  Ne samo u Teheranu vec ni u Sirazu I Abadanu niko nije mogao da mi kaze mogu li da predjem granicu I udjem u irak kod Koramshara (Khhoramshahr).  Usao sam u autous u Abadanu koji ide za Koramsar I negde na sever (vise ne secam se krajnje destinacije).  Vozac mi je obecao da ce stati “kod granice”.

Autobus je bio kao nestvaran (posle svega kroz sta sam prosao zadnjih meseci): aircondition, prostran sa po 2 sedista na jednoj strain I sa po samo jednim na drugoj a stjuardesa nudi bombone tokom puta.  Osecao sam se kao u avionu.  Ali, uzivanje nije trajalo dugo.

Po napustanju stanice u Koramsaru, poceo je vetar i pescana oluja.  Posle desetak minuta voznje, autobus je stao.  Nigde bilo kakve oznake na putu.  Nista se ne vidi, samo se pesak spaja sa nebom.  Vozac mi prilazi I kaze “Tamo je Irak. Samo parvo idi 3-4km”.

Onda sam video obrise puta koji je bio pokriven peskom.  Ocigledno da ovde niko dugo nije prolzaio.  Pescana oluja je bila sve jaca I posle nekog vremena vise nisam video put vec samo pesak.  Vidljivost je bivala sve manja, maximum 5-10 metara. Vetar strahovito duva a sunce pece. Pravi pakao. Secam se da sam usput prelazio neke kanale sa bodljikavom zicom i video obrise napustenih, polurazrusenih i izgorelih kuca. Nigde zive duse.

Nisam siguran koliko dugo sam pesacio. Bio sam ubedjen da sam prosao vise od 4 km.  Napokon, vetar se smirio I vidljivost povecala. Naisao sam na baraku koja je izgledala kao da nekog ima pogotovu sto je auto bio parkirano ispred.  Ispostavilo se da je to Iracka granicna postaja.  Izgleda da sam Iransku granicnu postaju promasio u onoj pescanoj oluju.

(Kasnije sam proverio na mapi I izgleda da se radi o granicnom prelazu Shalamche)

Moja sreca sto sam napokon naisao na Iracku granicu, kratko je trajala. Sada su nastali novi problemi.

  • Granicari (bilo ih je dvojica) su prvo bili sokirani sto uopste nekoga vide da je dosao iz Irana.
  • Drugo, moja pojava je bila neoubicajena za njihove prilike: duga kosa, kratke panatalone (pocepane farmerke), veliki ranac sa aluminijumskom konstruckijom I urolanom vrecom za spavanje itd. Kasnije sam ih razumeo:  nigde u iraku nisam sreo ni jednog stranca.  Deca su me pratila na svakom koraku kao da vide vanzemaljca.
  • Trece, pitanje je da li uopste neko moze da udje iz Irana u Irak na tom mestu?
  • Cetvrto, ako moze, da li to vazi I za mene?

Sve to je stvaralo haos u njihovim glavama posto se tamo ocigledno nista ne desava (izuzev povremenih sukoba sa suprotnom stranom).

Posle nekog vremena prevrtanja po nekim knjigama I studiranja mog pasosa (uz konstataciju “Tito” I “good”) zakljucili su da mogu da udjem u Irak.  Nisam siguran da li su stvarno bili ubedjeni da mogu da udjem ili je to mozda bila nejednostavnija odluka za njih u tom trenutku.


E, sada je trebalo videti sta ja to nosim u rancu.  Smucilo mi se.  Oni su izvadili sve iz ranca koji je bi upakovan da vise ni igla ne bi mogla da stane.  Nije me brinulo to sto su nasli nekoliko nozeva koje sam kao suvenire kupio u Avanistanu i kukuri (maceta) koju sam kupio u Napalu, drvena zmija iz indije (koju su ispelli da slome) vec kako cu uspeti da to ponovo upakujem.

Drugo, problem sa kamerom I nerazvijenim rolnama filma i slajdova.  Sta sam ja to slikao?  Da nisam spijun?  Öpet pitanje: sta ja radim ovde? Jedva sam ih ubedio da sam samo student arhitekture koji putuje po svetu a ne spijun.

Sva ta komunikacija bila je na njihovom engleskom koji je bio na nivou mog, recimo kineskog ili japanskog.  Zamorili smo se od “price” rukama.

Nakon svega, bio sam spreman da nastavim put.


Opet se javio jedan “mali” problem:  Kako stici do Basre koja je udaljena 10-15 km od pogranicne postaje?  Pescane oluje vise nije bilo ali, pesaciti kroz pustinju na 40-50°C sa rancem na ledjima ne bi bilo bas prijatno.  Ispostavilo se da su kola koja sam video ispred barake pripadale jednom taksisti koji je dosao da poseti prijatelja granicara.  Vraco se natrag za Basru.  Opet problem: Cena 1.5 iracka dinara sto je oko $6. To bi bilo otprilike 10% mog budzeta za povratak u Beograd sto znaci, da mi preostaje opcija pesacenja.  Ipak, smilovao se I prebacio besplatno do Basre.

Basra me nije interesovala pa sam odmah produzio za Nasiriju, autobusom.


U Nasiriji sam privukao paznju mnogih.  Prisli su mi neki mladici I kada su videli ko sam I sta sam, uputuli su me u jedan hotel.  Ispostavilo se da je to besplatan hotel za mlade koji putuju, vrsta Youth hotel-a-  Hotel je u stvari prizemna zgrada sa desetak soba koje su u tom trenutku sve bile prazne.  Sobe su inace bile vrlo ciste.  Napokon, stigao sam da se okupam i otspavam.

Prva stvar narednog dana je bila obilazak Ura, zigurata u sred pustinje.  Opet sunce, pesak, prasine…ali, isplatilo se.  uzivao sam u prizoru.


Vavilon je mesto o kome sam sanjao i strasno sam zeleo da ga vidim.  Ono sto sam video tada, nije bilo ono sto sam zamisljao na bazi prica o visecim vrtovima i legendi.  To su bile samo iskopine u to vreme.  Kasnije je Sadam Husein renovirao da je to licilo malte ne na ono vreme kada je grad bio izgradjen.

Ono cega se secam je opet omladinski hotel u Hili (mesto kod Vavilona).  Poucen iskustvom iz Nasirije, potrazio sam takav hotel u Hili.  Nije mi mnogo trebalo.  To je usvari bio sportski centar sa hotelom u kome su otsedale ekipe koje dodju sa strane.  Primili su me normalno.  Sve je bilo kao u svakom normalnom hotelu samo sto je i ovde to bilo besplatno.

Jedna grupa momaka je igrala stoni-tenis.  Normalno, privukao sam im paznju i ponudili su mi da I ja igram.  Ispostavilo se da sam bolji od svih (u to vreme sam malo igrao stoni tenis u Beogradu) pa sam u vreme boravka u Hili imao sem besplatnong prenocista i besplatnu hranu.  Utrkivali su se ko ce da me bolje ugosti.  Bio sam atrakcija.

“…just go straight,  Iraq is over there…”


“…samo pravo,  tamo je Irak…”
  • Once a coastal city (Persian Gulf)
  • Today inland, 16km from Nasiriyah
  • Inhabited and city established more than 5000 years ago
  • First dynasty ended around 2340BC
  • Ziggurat was built in 2100BC
  • Temple of Nanna, residence of the moon in Sumerian mythology
  • 21m high
  • B/w 2030 and 1980BC it was the largest city in the world – 65.000 people.
  • From 500BC no longer inhabited
  • Mentioned in the Bible, Book of Genesis (Abraham’s birth place)
Ur (Irak)
  • Kada je osnovan I naseljen, pre vise od 5000 godina, bio je lucki grad na obali Persijskog Zaliva
  • Danas je duboko na kopnu I nalazi se na 16km od Nasirije
  • Ziggurat je izgradjen 2100. God pre nove ere
  • Zigurat je hram Nanna, staniste meseca po Sumerskoj mitologiji
  • Trenutno, zigurat je 21m visok
  • Izmedju 2030 god I 1980. God pre nove ere, Ur je bio najveci grad na svetu sa 65000 stanovnika.
  • Od 500 god pre nove ere je nenaseljen
  • Spominje se u Bibliji, u knjizi o postanju, kao Abrahamovo rodno mesto


  • Near Biblical “Garden of Eden”
  • The inhabitants practice “temporary marriage” without a priest (“God is a witness”)
Mocvare (Marshlands)


  • Nalazi se u blizini biblijske rajske baste (“Garden of Eden”) gde je smestena prica o Adamu I Evi
  • Stanovnici praktikuju “privremeni” ili “kratkorocni brak”, bez svestenika, “Bog je svedok”


  1. “The Gate of Gods” or Ishtar Gate; the original in the Berlin Museum
    • The oldest building phase cannot be recovered; they are below ground water level (Euphrates)
    • Became important in 21st century BC
    • 18th century, during Hammurabi, became capital of Mesopotamia
    • In 6th century, during Nebuchadnezzar, Ishtar Gate and Hanging Gardens were built.
    • 539BC the Persian king Cyrus the Great captured Babylon
    • 331BC Alexander the Great captured Babylon
    • 116AD Roman Emperor Trajan invaded Babylonia, Babylon was in ruins
    • During Saddam Hussein, Babylon was renovated almost to the stage as it was originally, except for the Hanging Gardens
    • Destroyed again during the American invasion of Iraq and during their “help”. Americans, without culture and any sense of history and tradition, established military base in Babylon. Not to mention looting and destroying everything in Iraq (including the people).  Their “export of democracy” and imposing their “values” to other nations left Iraq in ruins too.


  • Kapija boginje Ishtar ili Kapija bogova (“The Gate of Gods” – original u Berlinskom Pergamon muzeju) izgradjena 575. god pre Hrista po naredjenju kralja Nabukodonosora
  • Najstariji delovi grada ne mogu biti otkopani jer se nalaze ispod nivoa vode reke Eufrat
  • Babilon postaje important centar u 21. Veku pre Hrista
  • U 18. Veku pre Hrista, za vreme Hamurabija, postaje glavni grad Mesopotamije
  • U 6. Veku, u vreme Nabukodonosora, izgradneni su Kapija boginje Ishtar I viseci vrtovi
  • godine pre nove, Persijski car Cirus Veliki (Cyrus the Great) osvaja Babylon
  • God pre nove ere, Aleksandar Makedonski osvaja Babilon
  • God, Rimski imperator Troja vrsi invaziju na Babylon i ostavlja ga u rusevinama
  • U vreme Sadama Huseina, Babilon je obnovljen skoro do nivoa kakav je bio u vreme Nabukodonosora (izuzev visecih vrtova za koje je raspisan konkurs ali nikada nije realizovan)
  • Skoro je unisten u vreme “Americke pomoci Iraku” tj u vreme Americke invazije na Irak kada je postao Americka vojna baza
  • First mentioned in the Book of Ezra (the Old Testament)
  • Built in 2nd century BC
  • In 2nd century captured by Romans
  • The arch Taq-I Kisra above the Throne room was built in mid 3rd century AD,
  • Barrel vault 36m high,24m wide, 50m long – the largest vault constructed in Persia
  • It is the widest and highest single-span vault built of baked bricks in the world (I don’t know what is left after American “help” (actually, I don’t want to know – it can’t be anything good).
  • Prvi put spomenut u Bibliji, stari zavet, jevandjelje po Ezri
  • Izgradjen u 2. Veku pre nove ere
  • U 2. Veku ga osvajaju Rimljani
  • Svod Taq-I Kisra iznad prestone dvorane izgradjen sredinom 3 veka
  • Svod je visok 36m, 24m sirok I 50m dugacak, – najveci svod izgradjen u Persiji (u to vreme Ctesiphon je bio pod Persijancima)
  • To je najsiri I najvisi svod na svetu, izgradjen od pecene opeke
  • Ne znam sta je ostalo od Ctesiphon-a posle “Americke pomoci” Iraku. Ustvari, ne zelim da znam – ne moze biti nista dobro.