Friday, 28 September 2007

Day 128 - Tehran

I need another new nose, I am getting through them too quickly. Just when I think I have got is sorted it peels off again.

I left Qazvin at 6:30 after waking up Mr Grump at the reception. The ride was pretty easy although the only signpost to Tehran was down the motorway. I made good progress before the wind got up at about 9:30. The scenery was boring and going through the towns with vans parked up and selling fruit and veg out of the back was about as interesting as it got. Karaj was the last town before Tehran and getting into it was easy but getting out was more of a problem. When I stopped to ask the way to Tehran people looked at me with a totally blank expression, blimey it was only 40k away, they should have heard of the place. When I showed them on the map they were just as blank but then I realised it wasnt in Farsi, so I ended up following my nose, which reminds me, I need a new one! A found a nice spot for lunch on the edge of Karaj, nice grass, shade from a tree and secluded enough to be able to eat. Just as I was about to stop I was joined by a racing cyclist, so I told him I was stopping as I needed to eat and he immediately gave me his energy bar. Heading into Tehran was fun and nowhere near as bad as Istanbul, but the driving standards are atrocious, as I suspect is my spelling. Drivers constantly stop as very short notice to pick up or drop off people and then move off without looking behind, so cycling is a constant hazard. Added to that cars coming in from the right never stop and give way and dont even look until the are across the first lane. Motorcyclists pull up along side for a chat so cycling in cities is never dull. One motorcyclist was offering me a room in his house as I was moving across 2 lanes of traffic to turn left, I declined his offer. I eventually arrived at Adarzi Square, the first place I have been to on this trip that I visited in 1999. There is a massive monument (photo) in the middle of a large open space but sadly the place resembled a building site as the square was being relayed. It was about another 10k to the centre and I easily found the hotel I was after. It had been the longest ride so far at 155k and I was very thirsty, so I went to buy a drink before I even went to my room. Only then did I discover that I am in the heart of the cars parts area of Tehran and for 10 mins I walked and every shop was for cars. When I set off in the other direction it was the same and the only other shop I have seen is a baker just across the road from the hotel. I went out for dinner but there is a shortage of places to eat and I eventually went for a pizza for change from rice and dry meat. I bought a new pen and the owners eyes almost popped out when he heard I was from England. His name was Naser Afshar and he studied for 2 years in Cardiff. We discussed allsorts until we got to religion and then subject didnt change again.

First thing yesterday I went to the Pakistan Consulate to find in was closed until Sunday. Sod it! The only reason I came to Tehran was to go there but I dont want to wait until Sunday with the possibility that they cant do anything with my visa anyway, so I will try my luck at Zahenan down by the border where there is another Consulate and if that fails I am in the poo! I went to the bank on the way back and changed another 100 Euro and came away with another wad of notes to the value of 1.3m Rial. The guy in front of me had a small sack full. Next stop was the bazaar, a massive area and somewhat busy. I did my best to get lost but I was always aware of the direction of the sun and failed. I passed through 3 mosques in the process, they are open air and get used as busy walkways. By early afternoon they were shutting up for the weekend so I made off for the park that I had so enjoyed in 1999, but it was a completely different atmosphere. There had been a lot of casual sports back then, but now there was nothing, probably due to the fact that people dont want to get hot and bothered during Ramadan. The lovely little teahouse was closed for the same reason. At a kiosk I bought a packet of crisps as my energy levels were well down, but the guy there didnt want to sell them to me. Whats the point of opening if you dont want to sell anything. In the evening I went back for another chat with Naser in his shop and we sat and drank tea with the other workers and his brother. Naser likes Ramadan as business is quieter. He works 7 days a week 8-8 and 10:30-2 on Friday and says we have it easy in the UK. He is probably right.

Today being Friday has been a bit quiet. I went across to the baker (photo) first thing, the only open shop, and had fresh bread that was almost to hot to carry. I visited Golestan Palace, a good day to visit as it was free. It is mainly brickbuilt but with plenty of colourful tiles on the outside and nice tranquil gardens. An oldish guy approached me and asked if I spoke English. He brought out a copy of Newsweek from 2003 with words underlined that he did not understand, so I went through them with him writing all the words in a notebook for him with their meanings. The rest of the day is for chilling out, tricky when there is nowhere to sit and all the food and drink places are shut.

No more photos have been added as the site is blocked at this internet cafe. The guy next to me is sitting looking at porn, but I cant download a few photos of Tehran. I think their filter needs to have a bit more work done on it.

Tomorrow will be another early start, oh joy, as it is another 150k to Qom where I meet up again with Andre and Judith, then it is about another 4 days to Esfahan where I expect we will stop for 4 or 5 days. It a tough life.


Caff said...

Not able to get food? What's wrong with you? Surely with all those car shops you can get car-bonated drinks and chicken car-bonara?!:-)

Brian and Teri said...

Just fininshed catching up on the last 2 weeks. Glad to see you finally found something else to eat other than melons, peaches, courgettes, tomatoes etc. Nice as they are they don't have many calories and you must have been spending even more time on the loo!

dad said...

I've never thought of you as a teacher of English - I would love to see the answers you gave to the willing pupil!

Basher Barlow said...

Beastie, Good to see you are making progress now don't go too fast my friend else it will all be over abd you will then have to start to think about having to work again :-) by the way this will be a first but "Yes, you were right" I just completed JOGLE and I should have done it the other way around as the head winds were murder. Sad when it all came to an end and was even more envious of you and full of respect.. keep them pedals turning son, I am about to down a few bottles of Real Ale in my minor celebration and will sink a couple for you too!

PS: Also done and Audax but not for me, didn't like riding with others as I am a miserable so-&-so so dropped off an completed the remainder on my own (did the same on JOGLE when 1 or 2 people tried to ride with me, love solo hate riding with others).

Brian and Teri said...

I thought the guy in the picture had a pot on his arm (that's Yorkshire for he's broken his arm and it's in plaster) until I looked harder and realised that he's tossing dough!!