Iran – Tehran, 07 June 2009

Our first full day in Tehran, and also our last day in Tehran. With the help of the guesthouse owner, we booked a whole sleeper cabin (it just costs us 15 USD each) to Esfahan, but that did not leave till the evening. Southern Tehran was kinda rough on us the last couple of days, so we were less than enthusiastic about venturing out. So, we had an excellent, leisurely breakfast in Hotel Firouzeh. I’m not a fan of Iranian bread and cream cheese!

We had some time to take in the sights, so we went to the Parade Ground, which was eerily empty. But what I found interesting was the door arches, which were ornately carved, and one of the most elaborate things I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s kinda nice being a tourist in town, where there aren’t that many. The downside was, we kinda became tourist attractions ourselves. (yes, three Asian girls look pretty prominent)

Next, we headed to the Museum of History. Erm, I honestly don’t remember much about it, but since I was interested in ceramics, I did end up taking a lot of pictures of that. Given that Persian sailors were one of the first on the Silk Road on the sea, and had intimate connections with Southeast Asia, I was interested in that. I didn’t think that the ceramics looked particularly Southeast Asian, but I thought it was interesting how humans across the world basically chose to design similar things independently, and make them on their pottery. Ho hum.

Then, it was lunch at yet another kebab place. I wish I took more pictures of the food, which was a selling point for me in Iran. Not sure why I didn’t do that more. Maybe my hunger got in my way (as usual). Anyway, one the note of food, because of the embargoes against Iran by the US, or is it because Iran doesn’t want anything to do with Western culture? Anyway, they don’t really have stuff like McDonald’s and KFC over there, not that I am advocating that they should have it. But interestingly, despite the fact that they don’t have KFC, it didn’t stop locals from setting up fast foods that look like KFC. It generally amazes me how societies that are not allowed to partake in global (?) culture basically find some way to feel connected with the rest of the world.

We tried looking for some churches near the Tehran Bazaar area, but since I was the navigator, that plan kinda derailed, since I couldn’t find it. Yeah, not a great map reader. Not a great one at all.

Anyways, having read about the difference between northern and southern Tehran (northern Tehran is richer and more gentrified), our bourgeois selves decided we might go there and hang out for a different experience. I remember Gandhi Plaza from Persepolis as one of the cool hang out places for the well-to-do, so we got a cab to bring us there.

A side note here: Iranians are like impossibly helpful and polite people. We spoke no Farsi/Persian, and to get around, we basically found whoever spoke English, and asked the person to like write down the instructions on a slip of paper, which we’ll hand over to the cab driver. Everyone we approached was incredibly obliging. (and of course, we were useless)

Northern Tehran definitely had like a different feel to it. We got stared at a lot less, and were able to go about our business without attracting too much attention. After some window shopping, we just wound up at a nice little cafe, and spent our afternoon just chilling out there. It definitely had a more relaxed atmosphere, albeit more pricey. I was quite amused by offerings of non-alcoholic beer on the menu. 🙂

The Parade Ground, Tehran

Ornate Door Arch in Parade Ground

Faculty of Arts, Tehran

College of Arts, Tehran

National Museum of Tehran

Pottery in National Museum of Tehran

KFC Clone in Tehran

Fastfood in Tehran

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