Sunday, 5 August 2012

Iran–Tehran (5-7 August 2012)

We arrived in Tehran International Airport on 5th August 2012.  The flight was pleasant with minimal turbulence. It took 7 hours and 45 minutes to get to Tehran. We were not expecting any food to be served on board, so we were pleasantly surprised when the beef kebab and chicken kiev arrived. The flight was filled with Iranians returning from their holidays in Malaysia.  They were happily swapping seats and chatting away throughout the flight.  A lady sitting next to us across the aisle chatted with us. She told us about the exchange rate and gave us pistachios (gaz in Persian). She also cautioned us to be mindful of our safety and not to trust easily those who we will come across. Her family bade us farewell and wished us a happy and safe overland trip.
It was a breeze to go through immigration and customs in Iran. We changed a little of our USD for Rials before leaving the airport. Dad decided to take the bus for a leisurely drive into the city instead of rushing through in a taxi as experienced from mum and dad’s previous trip to Iran. Luck was on our side, a pleasant young man boarded the bus and sat behind us and started a conversation to polish his English. Dad gladly obliged, being the talkative one in our group. An old woman sitting in front of us soon joined in, even though she did not know a word of English. With the help of Mohammad we all chatted with the old woman in her native language. Through Mohammad, we found out  her niece is studying in Malaysia. She dug into her bag and out came a bag of sweets. She took a handful and shoved some in my way, I hesitated briefly, but I took one anyway. She insisted that I took more and soon all of us, including Mohammad, had one each. Dad realised it and told Mohammad it is Ramadan, out came the sweets in Mohammad’s and the old lady’s mouths as they said something in Persian and started to laugh. We all laughed as well and soon the other passengers were looking around at our direction.
The old woman bade us farewell and got off the bus. Mohammad, not wanting to say goodbye at the last stop offered to take us to our destination, Ferdowsi Sq, in a city bus. Women and men ride separately, so mum and I headed to the front of the bus. Dad and Mohammad joined the men’s queue at the back. Mum and I boarded the bus without realising that Dad and Mohammad did not make it up the bus. We panicked! To calm Mum down, I assured her “it’s ok, we’ll get off at Ferdowsi Sq and wait for dad”, reminding her that Dad is familiar with Ferdowsi Sq. and Mohammand was with him too. A lady in the bus overheard our conversation and immediately signed to us that she was stopping at the same stop and that we are to follow her when she gets off the bus. We got off and she must have been asking us where we wanted to go (I could not understand what she was saying in Persian). We tried to sign to her that we are going to wait for dad. Before long, dad was walking towards us. So, we said goodbye and thanked the lady.
The  next morning, after a hearty breakfast , we headed towards Ferdowsi St. and exchanged our USD for more Rials. We were happy that we had better rates than what we got at the airport. To our disappointment, the rates were higher the following day. Oh well…
Strolling along, we observed that each street specialises in selling only one type of product. There were whole rows of shops selling leather goods, shoes, stickers and wall papers, sewing machines etc. Dad bought the protective stickers for the car bumpers. DSC_0188 resize

We entered a large carpet shop. The shop assistant was more than happy to show us the different carpets on display coming from all over Iran. I liked the ones weaved in Isfahan and Qom. Qom carpets are the finest in the world and they weave very high quality silk carpets. Finest and clarity in pattern and design determine prices.

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Beautiful carpet wrapped water jugs and vases.

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Me, the carpet weaver.
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Dad with the framed carpet he liked best.

DSC_0200 cobbler

Mum’s shoes needed a little TLC. So we stopped at the cobblers and got it fixed with a new coat of shoe varnish. Mum was happy her shoes are as good as new.

The cobbler working on mum’s shoe >> 
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The cobbler had this huge energy saving bulb (almost the size of my head).

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<< Fruit seller at Ferdowsi Sq.

We picked up some plums, peaches and Iranian bread along the way and dad suggested that we head for Laleh Park. The sun was already setting when we got to the park with the temperature falling. Laleh park was busy with Iranians of all ages having picnics with friends and family, resting under trees and even playing badminton. We enjoyed our walk around the park, waiting for DSC_0212the Iranians in the park to break their fast. When they heard the call of evening prayer from the large outdoor tv, we too, joined them and had dinner in the park.

We also took the opportunity to update our blog offline.

Here are some of the shots I took of Laleh park.
Check out the rainbow at the base of the water fountain.


Statue of Biruni, a medieval Persian Astronomer.

Our stay in Tehran has been wonderful, though limited to Ferdowsi Sq and surrounding streets. Despite not knowing much of the Persian language, we met many kind, caring and inquisitive Iranian who were always happy to stop and chat with us or help us when we needed help.

Tomorrow, we will be taking the early flight to Bandar Abbas to do the custom clearance and collect our Sorento.

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