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Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:04
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Day 21: Tabriz to Tehran Saturday 13th October

The day started with a simple breakfast of bread, butter, cream cheese, honey and tea and Nicecafe coffee. Had to load the coach risking life and limb on a busy road because of the open sewer or overflow drain on the side of the road preventing us opening the bay doors.

At breakfast we met our new guide Vali who will stay with us for the rest of the journey to Pakistan. Told us he is 56, married with officially four children and did a degree in aeronautics in the USA the great friend of Iran. 'Ah! Ah! Ah!' he said.

We've now travelled over two hundred and fifty klm to the first petrol station and a WC. Set off at a gallop to the WC because I'd been busting for an hour or so. Firstly my money (a great wad) and my passport flew out of my body belt as I ran across the forecourt and this put me behind the others and then I found myself in the most disgusting toilet since the drive down to the Amazon in 1993. What made it worse was because of my prostate it was the longest piss that I have had since 93 and I did it with my nose and mouth covered. I can't help thinking there's worse to come. What I have just found out from Mary is that the hotel supposedly in Tabriz was infact twenty klm outside, hardly a visit to this famous city. Also during this journey we saw numerous police patrols and we were stopped twice. As the officer made his way onto the bus the women raced to get their head gear on. After the first stop the police made the comment to our guide that they should show respect for Islam when in the company of the police. Noreen was still struggling to get hers on when the officer was half way down the isle.

We have now come to look round a Mosque that has the third largest dome after Ayasopha and the Blue Mosque. Once again like Ayasopha it was a monument to scaffolding. After the tour I bought a Persian penknife and Anne a silver ring for a Lucy. The knife cost 50,000 rial, about £4 and the ring 180,000 or ten pound.

We're still on the road and it's 6.15pm with a couple of hours to go. We'll be back on the road tomorrow by 8.00am heading for; so no chance to see anymore of Tehran than we saw of Tabriz. These long drive days are beginning to ware me down a bit. Time is spent, on such days, playing quizzes, listening to music and watching videos: so far we have watched hours of Friends episodes, Braveheart and Bridget Jones. I can't decide if it makes it easier or not.

It's now 8.00pm and we're still heading towards Tehran in a very slow traffic jam. About an hour a go Leighton put on a video called Coyote Ugly which is a pretty naf American film about some small town country girl going off to New York to be a songwriter. In order to survive she gets a job in a joint as a bar dancer and some of the scenes are a bit raunchy but nothing too sexy to us in the west. However, everyone at the front of the bus is made aware that something funny is happening by the laughter and screaming of the youngsters on the back seats. Travelling along side us in the next lane are two Iranian buses which keep overtaking and then falling behind as the lanes speed up and slow down. What is a bit of titillation must look like porno to the passengers on the bus. There are men, stretching their necks and contorting with mouths open as they try to keep in contact with the two bus monitors. I can't imagine what our guide thinks of this is. It will probably drive him back towards the Mullahs'. Come to think of it it's having the same effect on me. We have just passed an accident spot and the road has cleared and we're moving again probably to the disappointment of the men on the bus momentarily living the American dream as they make their way to celebrate Eid in the big capital.

We arrived at the hotel to find the Ozbus 1 bus, the cause of our delay into Iran standing lamely outside, still waiting for someone to remove it over a week after it broke down. The Cousar Hotel on the other hand was far from the end of its' life. The central area gave the impression of a middle range well respected stopping place with ornate roof and hanging chandeliers, plush carpets, well laid out seats and tables and plenty of guests. Our ensuite room was a pleasant surprise with a large double bed laid out with an imperial style bedcover and pillow of blue and gold motif. The large windows were fully laced with matching blue, heavy, drapes tied at the wall creating an arch. The room matched the elegance of the lounge area with a wooden control panel for lights, telephone etc, TV, fridge with non alcoholic beers and fruit juices and a blue tiled floor area leading from the large, solid dark oak door leading into the room and stopping at the bathroom/ wet room. The actual bed area was heavily carpeted.

We made our way to the foyer to find that most people had already gone to look for food and we were a little reluctant to make our way out alone into Mr Bush's big bad Tehran. Nevertheless we made our way up to the nearest main road and spent the next hour trying to circumnavigate a large round about. It consisted of four maypole type structures with streams of coloured lights hanging down and framing a central large fountain. Although the four wide roads were linked by zebra crossings the series of traffic lights did not seem to be. Traffic flow was clearly the preserve of the knutters sitting at their steering wheels bearing down on us menacingly. The locals had two options. One stand stationary until every driver went to bed and then take the opportunity make for their destination before it started again. Two launch themselves in the midst of the sea of cars and put their faith in Allah. This is no problem for an Islamist but a major problem for an atheist like me. At one point we were marooned in the middle of a steady stream of cars all trying to deliberately keep going at all costs including our lives. At one point I got so angry I kicked a car that was passing at about twenty mile and hour within a foot of us and got a telling off from Anne for antagonizing them.

With the exception of the traffic there was no street life as such in the sense no cafes and restaurants or pavement life. The temperature last night was ideal and even with the anti alcohol laws I still expected to find a pavement culture. I am quite disappointed with this country so far. Perhaps I am not visiting the right places. I dearly hope this is the case. But in both the area around Tabriz and here in the suburbs of Tehran the centre of night life seems to be furniture shops. Tom Paine called the English pub the working man's university but with no stretch of the imagination can I envisage revolution or dissent spreading from the armchairs and sofas starring out from every other store in the main towns of Iran.

I was glad to get back to the safety of the hotel; cars were not allowed beyond the foyer I was assured. The hotel had a pretty little coffee shop with a central fountain styled like some tiled Arabic chimney. No alcoholic beer so early to bed yet again.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:26