Travel Journal Overview: I arrived into Tabriz late in the evening, all was closed. The streets were crowded and I spotted a small hotel on a main street. I was carrying a few photocopies from a guide book, and knew little about the place.
I was awake by 6am, but by force and dread of using a shared squat stayed in bed until 10am. Breakfast consisted of fried eggs and a large sheet of thin bread that looked much akin to bubble wrap, though thankfully better tasting. Then to a slow Internet, where I got a mail from a Korean girl I had met in Goreme who was also visiting Iran, though she had typed it in a Korean font so my mail naturally could not read it. I replied from hotmail and included my hotel address number and anything else that could possibly suggest I wanted to travel with someone.
Yes I was finding Iran not to be so great. It was western in every extent, bar the covering of ladies with headscarf’s. I so wanted the Tourist office to be open, I knew that was the key to opening up Iran to me. The stories from fellow travelers about the brothers that ran it seemed to pull me into waiting.Yet another side of me wanted to leave, and leave fast. I figured I could wait until Sunday, if it was not open by then, I would leave for either Mashed or Esfahan.
I spent the next day roaming the streets of Tabriz, and being unimpressed. No other foreigners were at the hotel, nor roaming the streets. I was bored. TT quotes of overly friendly people, and joyus sights were far from the Iran I was in.
So by Sunday I was very glad to see that the tourist office was open, and the stories of the Brothers Nasser and Bassin were true. Indeed Nasser took me on a quick tour of the local Bazaar and I learnt that in this part of the world the gold dealers had the best exchange rates for money. And I learnt how the market worked. Tourists made up only 5% of the exchange in currencies, and seeing my interest in the more non-touristic points of business Nasser introduced me to some of his friends in the business. I changed 500 Euro for 13,500 toman, or rather 6.5 million rial and learned the meaning of the Iranian currencies.
I was fed all the information I wanted. Taxi fares, food costs, places to see and of course what I could and could not do with my camera. I headed straight for the Blue Mosque and began photographing great chunks of blue tile scattered on a heavy stone floor. With percise persion artists stenciled in delicate lines and designs where new tiles would be painted on in a new form of restoration. The allure of the Blue Mosque was strong, the work would take years, perhaps decades to complete. And all could again be destroyed by another earthquake.
I returned to Nasser that afternoon to keep for the promise of being shown a good meat eatery. Instead I was introduced to a scarf covered Canadian girl, Kirsty. Nasser’s first comment was “Do you want to go on a tour with her to Kandahan today? You will share the price, is good?”
Company!! Why I was so hungry for company I do not know. Maybe because in a place not as imagined, one can find solace with a fellow traveler. Hunger was put back an hour or two, and so we set off in the little black and headed to Kandahan.
The little light brown mountainside village was much like Goreme in Cappadoccia. Only here people seemed to actually be living in the little cave like dwellings. It looked to be like a simple life in the village. People carted supplies up the narrow hilly lanes on contented mules. Women folk wore more colorful headscarf’s, while small children occasionally posed shyly for photo’s. Yet deep down as I looked at a few stores below on the road, and the odd restaurant I wondered that in the past, or perhaps as a vision for the future the village had been purposely left as it was.
That night Kirsty and I had dinner together, and she spoke of her 1 month in Iran. Tales of meeting fellow travelers, and of a group of ignorant Australian photographers hassling local women spewed forth. I listened as she vented her mild anger and frustration at them, and recapped her stories of the simple Iranian lives she had stumbled onto. I was happy for the company,and happier still to here of another travellers experiences in Iran. Kirsty was flying home the next day, and so it was then I decided it was time to move on, and bought a ticket to Rasht for the dayafter tomorrow. My fruitful day had inspired me to see this little green hillside town nearby Rasht called Mashed. A quick photo on the street for Kirsty and we bid each other goodbye.
Again I slept in, this time until 10.45am, it was my last day in Tabriz and I would be on a sleepless night bus tonight, so the rest was welcome. From the looks of the toilet paper scattered in the shared squat there seemed to be another tourist around. Only as I checked out and had my bags stored the manager seemed not to care and devulge and information to me about the person.
I headed back to Naseer and was taken to the enterance of a local resteraunt that held the promise of good food. It was in fact a basement resteraunt, filled but for one corner bench with both young and old Iranians smoking hooka’s, sipping sweet chai and eating from metal plates. I moved into the vacant corner and sat. Immediatley a pleasently smiling youth brought me over a aluminium platter holding a bowl, jug of stew and some more bubble wrap bread. Then much like an infant my host began to pound the stew with a metal plunger and tore my bread up for me. Later he even returned a second time to mash up more chickpeas and potatoe, before my nods of yes I know what to do now brought a smile to his face.
This also brough smiles to the other patrons and some chuckled from behind there bubbling hookas. Still I managed conversation, mainly thanks to my lamenated map. I used the story of writting a book of my travels to bring more interest to my red lined map. And then I grnered many Inshallas. I kind man also gave me two tickets to go and see another mosque, or rather garden mosque.
I headed to the bazzar next, not nearly a touch on the Marakesh souq’s, but I did release my camera again and took a photo of the vendor who sold me toilet paper. Not to mention his six other friends, who also really liked my book writing story so much they gave me a tube of free toothpaste.
Some more cyber, and I collected my backpack from the hotel before heading back to the Modern Tabriz Restaurant for another relaxed slap up meal. Then it was off in a taxi to the bus terminal where along the way I met up with Nasser’s brother for another farewell. Again I was told of the beauty that awaited me in the little town not far from Rasht
The night Bus to Rasht was 8 hours, meaning a 5am arrival,and another night of having an idiot slouching ontop of me. Do I look comfortable to sleep on? I better stop washing for a while. The night was cold, and by 2am my stomach was churning, prompting me to lash out grouchily at my slouching neighbour. I put in my headphones as a few snorers started up a musical from Hell’s Choir. 6 am slowly drew up, and still no Rasht. I was red eyed and felt like my stomach was ready to deliver something bad. By 7am we arrived, I was tired, sore and non too happy as I made my way to the porto cabin style bus office. I had a strange feeling this was going to be a bad day…
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