Iran - Isfahan - Yasd PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:04
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Day 24: Isfahan to Yasd Tuesday 16th October

Had another good breakfast and the bus tour of Isfahan to follow was cancelled due to lack of interest. Most of the lads went back to bed happily placing their don't disturb cards on the way. As a result our departure time was put back to 12.00 noon. We went and had our first experience of an Iranian bank. The inside did not look like an English bank with cashiers but people sitting at desks. We were sent upstairs where a slip containing my name and two signatures and the name of the hotel were recorded and I was then sent back down stairs where I was given the cash.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to find a post office so that we can send postcards but if there's one thing I've learnt about Iran is they don't want anyone communicating with the country and vice versa. We have not seen a post office since entering the country and you can't buy stamps when purchasing cards. In Turkey Anne managed to accumulate 14 stamps which are sitting in my wallet waiting for our next visit to the country.

We set off promptly at noon to head for the mud town of Yasd. Spent all the 250 kilometres writing this blasted blog. It's becoming a pain and I'm seriously considering abandoning it altogether. It's just too time consuming. If internet access is as hard to find and as slow in Pakistan then I'll have to quit.

Yasd is an amazing town in the middle of a semi arid landscape. The old houses are made of mud with beautifully smooth arches and windows: architecture without sharp edges. The Hotel Mehr is something special being a mud fortified house from the outside but on entering you walk into an oasis with central courtyard of with may rooms all looking out onto the large rectangular pool bordered with flowers and large pots. Sitting in the water area are two large decking areas with rails round them and carpets to sit on and big heavy cushions to lean against. We were booked in for a buffet at 65,000 rial at 7.00pm but to fill the two hours before we were taken for a tour of the town especially the water museum by Vali. Within 30 yards of the hotel we entered the bazaar, a complex maize of undercover alleyways running off each other at 90 degrees. The first cloth material shop we came to Vali pointed and said 'this is very famous Persian cloth' and we both said together 'paisley' In surprise he looked at me and said 'are you've heard of it?'. The thing that struck me was the amount of different patterns; simply hundreds of them. Grenoside could have bought enough material to make as many jackets as they wanted and the material would have cost about £100.

The water museum was based in a house similar to the hotel and told the story of qanats the system of underground drinking water. The men would locate water sources running out of the hills outside each village and then build a system of underground canals hundreds of yards long and 100 to 150 metres underground leading into the towns. These elaborate tunnels were cut out using basic cutting tools, and plumb lines using stones and what Vali calls carbon lamps which if I understood him properly they used them for light but also as measures to accurately take the water course to the town. On the way they would also build water mills to pump the water to the surface using the water as power. These canals once in the town would run from house to house providing underground fresh water to the door step so to speak. Water was also used in conjunction with large air vents built above the houses to keep the water cool to avoid warm conditions for bacteria and circulate fresh cool air in the very hot summers to all the households; in excess of 45 degrees. Vali told us the men who built and maintained them wore white garments and were classified as religious. This system was only abandoned 40 years ago.

The buffet meal destroyed my newly acquired impression on Persian food i.e. Kababs and chicken and rice. These were beautifully laid out on a raised area like a stage in a series of stainless serving dishes. The choice consisted of two soups, chicken vegetable and a thick pea and mint, like mushy peas, an aubergine and yoghurt and mint dish, a meat very similar to Rogan Josh and lamb cubes with whole baked tomatoes. The selection was delicious and only lacked a good bottle of wine. Anne had a bottle of Islamic non- alcoholic lime beer which she maintains tastes like shandy and I went for a vintage bottle of water as a mark of respect for the qanats. It also tasted better than Anne's choice. After the meal we all sang happy birthday for only the second time since leaving London, lit a cake and shared our sobriety with Kate now a respectable 29.

After the meal and celebrations we held our second family forum to iron out any problems. Surprisingly there were few complaints, still a little apprehension about the route through Tibet and China. Having looked at the itinerary for the rest of the trip to Sydney a few of us are beginning to warm to route two flying from Calcutta to Bangkok. Route one includes two overnight drives not something I am looking forward. We also learnt a little more about the journey across the Baluchostan desert into Pakistan in three days. I thought we would be n convoy and would do the journey non stop but not so it seems. The motto of the journey as been 'all things are subject to change' and this means the information you’re given. We are now told we will have an army guard travelling on the bus and they will change each day. We may be stuck waiting for the next guard to turn up for duty. This seems more dangerous than making a run for it.

Some of the lads along with Kate went onto the hotel room and spent the night smoking from the hubbly bubbly thing, we went to our room early to carry on writing my blog and just bathe in the atmosphere of this beautiful hotel. I can't wait until tomorrow to see what our next venue throws up in Kerman.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:26