Travel Journal Overview: On my bus from Esfahan to Shiraz I met up with a nice, but then very disturbing Iranian student.
The alarm sounded at 4.15am and after a quick sweet cake I bought the night before I was soon in a taxi on the way to the bus terminal for the bus to Shiraz. This was going to be my first actual daylight trip through Iran, and I was quite curious to see what the general landscape was going to be like. Not so inspiring was the answer. Iran’s landscape was made up of browns, collections of random brush and rough monotonous terrain. This tiring landscape was at least distracted my the jerky strange bloke next to me as we soon started a conversation; nearly 5 ours of it.
His name was Sami, and he was student from Tehran on his way home to Shiraz for a short break. He seemed like a pleasant enough guy. Tall, awkward, pimply and basically the stereotypical student from anywhere in the world. His questions were a little different after the first round of where/how/whens were over. His main concern had a similar sound to it, would the USA invade Iran? And agreement that both leaders of government were bad, yet both were voted in.
The conversation started to get weird when it changed to girls, which I suspected was actually of more importance to Sami than an invasion. He ask me how one would date a western girl? Would you dinners with them? When would you get married? And in a very loud whisper ‘how do you sleep with them?’ Not exactly too bad a question if you consider Sami was a 20+ male student from a heavily censored country with strong Islamic moral codes. But I was now convinced there were others on-board the bus listening in. This was practically confirmed when a little old lady in front of us turned around to what I thought was going to be a polite hello, but was in fact an infatic “Shut up!”. She spoke in Farsi, and I guess this was directed at Sami more than me.
Unfazed, Sami continued on and took the conversation to the next level. Which basically included details of a girls anatomy. And more specifically how Iranian doctors could restore ones virginity! Enough already!! My goodness, the guy was getting borderline obsessive. I fell into near silence, as we entered into Shiraz.
The only saving grace to Sami was when he too asked the question: “Do you think America will invade us?”
I tried a different approach. “You know, no one knows what Bush has planned. Many people don’t like him. Even from his own country.”
“It’s the same here. We don’t like our president either.”
The comment was a little strange. I avoid political discussions as they usually end with you getting dragged into a for or against argument. But, as Sami seemed to voice his opinion without faze, it seemed everyone knew the obvious.
“Our president is as bad as Bush. We don’t want him. No one I know voted for him.”
It seemed the new world order was on shaky ground the world over.
I avoided an agreement to meet with Sami as he kindly put me into a Taxi with clear instructions to the taxi man, with this I also avoided any more girl questions. Nice guy, but …
The taxi took me directly to the Zand Hotel. As the taxi pulled up into a rough side street, two scruffily clothed men eyed me suspiciously through dark eyes. I got the feeling this had the atmosphere of a border town. I went into the hotel where an uninterested youth barked the price of 140,000 for a single room to me. I bargained him down to 100,000 and asked to see the room. I had already made up my mind though, something in my gut told me not to stay there. So I headed across the street to the Esteghlal Hotel, a second option according to the LP. The hotel reception was on the second floor, where a young Japanese girl was arguing with a smiling young Iranian man behind a desk.
I waited for her to stomp away, before bargaining the guy down to a room for 100,000 with 3 beds. Frenzi was a likable cheeky type of chap, and I know I could have bargained him down another 10,000 but I had a better feeling about the place. He also started babbling about a tour to Persepolis with a German lady that was coming later, and a New Zealand guy who wasn’t sure. I nodded an just asked him to let me know later.
I headed out for lunch, it was Friday so all was closed so it was just me and a beefburger again. I wandered around the city to get y bearings. I knew Persepolis was better to see via a tour taxi rather than a regular taxi, and I had the address of several places. But again all was closed, bar… strangely enough, the tourist information center! A young girl eagerly handed me out droves of information on Hafez Tomb, sites to see and buses to take. She even gave me a map of the city, and a brochure of Shiraz in Spanish, they’d run out of English. I headed back to the beefburger joint for dinner and then back to the hotel.
Frenzi still had no answers for me regarding the tour taxi, so I asked him to knock on my door before 9pm tonight if any news came in.
Some related links from this website that you might like: (including a lot more photographs from Iran)
Stories: Feeling Low on the Road, in Iran
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