Our flight to Tehran was delayed by nearly 2 hours which meant we didn’t arrive at the hotel until nearly 10pm. It was cold and raining and as we drove it turned to light snow. An hour after we arrived everywhere was blanketed.
The last day in Tehran was taken up by Marie doing some work, Emma went shopping at the bazaar. Most people would bring home some handicrafts as a souvenir, or maybe a rug. Oh no not us we have 6 Iranian kebab skewers (which are not small) for the bargain price of about NZ$3. Ironically since Marie’s work was paying we stayed in what should have been by far the best hotel but it was by far the worst; rude service, appalling food and rubbish internet. Completely un-Iranian.
You wonder when you’re here in Iran why you ever might hesitate to visit. It is safe, has a deep history and culture and the people are engaging and hospitable. It didn’t blow us away but it gave us a bunch of new experiences.
Iran doesn’t seem to know what it is; it’s not a developing country nor a developed one, for example water is clean and safe which makes a nice change, but old inefficient industry belches out pollution all over the country and this combines with crap cheap fuel to make terrible air quality. We also got sick of the tourist rates, to get into major sights usually costs 200,000 rials (approx US$6) for tourists, but for locals they can be as cheap as 2,000 rails. When they are worth it you don’t mind so much but some aren’t and also when you are seeing 4 or 5 sights a day the cost quickly adds up. What was more annoying is generally museums or exhibitions in the sights were charging an extra entry fee (which we refused to enter in protest at having to pay a second entry fee).
The differences between the Arabic Middle East and Iran are really clear and you can understand why Iranians are fiercely adamant that they are Persian. Shia Muslims only pray 3 times a day so calls to prayer are not constant, and not loud and in your face. In fact religion while deeply important isn’t in your face like you might imagine; the hijabs and chador worn by women are the most visible sign, but mainly it is just embedded into their way of life. Wearing the hijab is fine but hard when its hot and for us it eventually got boring. Coming towards the end we looked forward to taking them off. When men get to walk around in t shirts it also grates a bit.
There is much concern about the Trump presidency and how that will change Iran. Some people think it will make the country more conservative again as religious leaders react. It will be interesting to see.
Iran is very different to Uzbekistan. Life in Uzbek is hard but it is also quite simple and there is a warmth to the people that is different to Iranians. We’d had a discussion before leaving Uzbekistan about whether to change our plans and instead try and get a visa for Tajikistan and carry on. The weather was turning into winter though so we couldn’t do what we wanted to there. We decided to save that till next time…
Over and out.