Friday, July 21, 2006

On the highway.


Streets in Teheran in july are like heated frying-pan. You feel every step and every breath(and all the time you inhale mix of fumes and dust). While going outside from the conditioned buildings you can't stop thinking that you just came into the oven. Somebody told me, that in the midday temperatures are about 70 degrees in the sun, what means that in the shadow is more than 40. So the worst thing every traveller carrying his super heavy backpack can do in that conditions is to try to find the destination by moving around. And considering the lowest prices of petrol/taxi service in the world, every attempt to go somewhere by foot sounds foolishly and unreasonably. But not for my friend, who told me: real backpackers don't use taxi, they walk(!).
So a distance from our embassy to the bus station we shall do by foot. Ok, we will take metro, it will be fun. Yes, it is. They have one carriage for women and the others are for men... So we have to divide. The funniest part of the journey is inside the carriage where all the women are looking at you and half of them are taking you photo by their cell phones. Blue-eyed, white, western tourists are not the commonplace in Iran. It is probable, that you will not meet them during your visit to that country. In every place you will show up, you will be an attraction for the natives. So smile and sit :)
After surviving five minutes of the posing in metro we are "near" our bus station. The map shows it is about one kilometer. So we are going. Suddenly we realize, that the pavement is ending and we are in the middle of highway. Great. My friend is stubborn, he decides to continue our walk through the roadside. Now I can feel like real traveller,heh. But our destination isn't so close as it supposed to be. And is on the other side of the highway, and of course we can not see the crossing. Propably because on the highways there are not any crossings. It should be very funny view for the drivers looking at us trying to cross the street. After too long walk in the 70 degree, struggling with cars and pollution in the highway we are reaching our station. At the last moment we are catching the bus.


Public transport in Iran should be model one for polish ministry of infrastructure. It is unbelievable, but they have quasi-steward service on the board... Few minutes after our trip begins a bus worker is treating us with almost frozen drinks and snacks. Hot and sweet chai is also in menu. The most interesting part of all drives in Iran are films. Iranian productions are in majority, but sometimes they show hollywod ones, but only those in which women wearing overalls or space suits. Guess why :)

The film ended and we found ourselves in the middle of iranian desert. I couldn't believe it can be even more hot than in Teheran! Actually we didn't have a plan for our trip, we didn't know what is worth seeing in Iran. Somebody in our embassy told us: go to Qoom. So we did. But we didn't realize, it was muslims Vatican. No, it didn't look like vatican and the mosque was for ordinary people like we the same as all before visited. What made us believe it is so important place, was the price for a bed in dingy hotel. And what's more: to go inside the walls of the temple complex we had to filled in a questionnaire, and wear this black traditional clothes for women (!) - yes, in 70plus degrees in the middle of the desert women are also wearing this rags. And short fast walk around the temples (we were not allowed to go inside) could happen only in the guide presence - the person who told us wehere can we go and what to photograph.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

In the lions den. Teheran


Calm down, take it easy, it is only Iran. And you wearing scarf, socks, longsleevs, long trousers in the 50 degrees heat. It has medical explanation in that circumstances. If I didn't wear it, I would have sunstroke, for sure.

After saying good bye to our funny happy orange monster, a bunch of people surrounded us and offered cheap hotel, cheap drive, good restaurant, full service. But my ambitious friend, as a real men, wanted to do it by himself. Bougth a map (I think it is first map in this trip), and have discovered that it is only two kilometers to our embassy (yep, almost like hostel).

So after two days in the bus, without breakfast, without water, with 13 kilo heavy bag struggling with morning heat and wearing scarf I followed my friend. Two hundred meters further I was almost dead. Then I saw an american rescue man. Are You OK? He asked. I said no. -So I will give you a lift to your destination. THANK GOD. Few moments later we were near his house, from which this kind man brought me frozen plums. And then we were ready to go to the embassy. I love iranian americans.

All day long we spent looking for some monuments, historic buildings, nice places, mosques... We find one famous bazaar, but some ppl in front of the gate told us about kidnapping of the western tourists. OK, no bazaar. Only interesting place was the Azadi Monument. But it was the pollution what made on me the biggest impression in Teheran.