Sunday 7th October 2007
As I said before we had a free morning in Tehran largely as they needed time to get the bus fixed. The planned 8am meet went ahead without a hitch and also without me as a lie in was more tempting. At 9:30 we headed for breakfast afraid if we left it any later they may have run out of bath mat bread and honey. Upon arrival at breakfast we not only found several fellow OzBusers who had succumbed to the lure of a lie in but also fried and scrambled eggs, two types of sausage, cereal, milk, melon, coffee, oh my god I am salivating just thinking about it again. 4 helpings later one tea and two coffees (this was just me and not the group) we had discovered that the mechanic was yet to arrive and all the museums within walking distance were closed and the 8am crew had hired a minibus in order to reach anywhere that was open!
Unperturbed and fuelled by my breakfast three of the girls and I (apparently you can have up to 4 wives in Iran so we figure if we keep a 3 to 1 ratio I can try and pass the girls off as my wives and they hopefully wont get felt up by the locals) headed in to town to find a local park we had been told about. Our first truly Iranian experience was just round the corner in the form of our first major road crossing. Now I do not know how many of you are familiar with the classic computer game Frogger but this was very similar to that. The cars do not stop, the people dodge back and forth and a bit of bumper sitting is par for the course. Having survived this we took a quick break in a shopping centre selling, to our surprise, skimpy sexy clothes for ladies, we guessed these would be for a night round the house. Considering this is the capital city of an Islamic state hot pants and boob tubes seemed to be readily available. Another shopping centre provided more traditional items and the girls took the opportunity to new head scarves and some new tops.
After walking for a while longer we found that the park was still nowhere to be seen. However we still needed to change some money so tracked down the nearest bank which would serve to be our second truly Iranian experience! Now Iran is a cash based economy meaning banking is very different and there is an armed guard on every floor. We had to go to one floor to hand over our Euros then down to another floor to queue for our Iranian money then back up again to hand over all the paper work. It was a very interesting experience and we left with a couple of 1,000,000 rial and headed back to find out the fate of our bus.
Returning at 12.00 PM we were told that our bus was done for, our second driver’s visa problems had meant he had left us and a new bus would be with us in 15 minutes. 2 hours later boredom got to the point where I headed into town to get some proper food for lunch even though there was a chance that this could result in the bus leaving without me if and when it arrived. We made it back with seconds to spare but had a bag full of sausages in pastry, veggie samosas and doughnuts. I threw these goodies to my girlfriend and headed out to help switch our stuff from old bus to new.
Our new bus, hastily hired in Tehran, had bigger seats, although there were less of them, more leg room, but no toilet, a cd player, but knackered speakers and air conditioning powered by ice, that’s right as in frozen water. So it has its share of pros and cons. A smaller cargo hold meant the majority of the back seat had to be given over to bags and tents and the fact that this then left an exact number of seats for the group many who were used to getting double seats to themselves were not too impressed.
Still with a new bus in action we were off again towards Abyane with a stop off at the Golestan Place and Qom, the religious centre of Iran, cancelled due to our late departure. Stopping for dinner in Kashan was the only thing to survive from today’s itinerary.
The dinner stop was interesting, left to fend for ourselves we, as usual were unable to apart from the local pizza and burger joint but at least the burgers were good. Going for an after dinner stroll with another 3 wives, who still got hit on by a 9 year old who made it quite clear I was cramping his style and should go away, we ended up at a pretty fountain in the middle of a roundabout where we became a local attraction. Locals asked us to pose for photos with a thumbs up stance being the favourite. We returned to the bus to find that others had been shown videos on locals phones which began as funny clips and moved on to real life hangings, not the most pleasant experience!
Back on the bus to our hotel to sleep, with a bit of confusion in the rooms, my couples room had five beds as did many others, we all expected fellow OzBusers to be joining us but were pleasantly surprised to have it all to ourselves. Retrieving a bottle of water from the rooms fridge it was time for bed. Tomorrow beckons and the first quarter of our journey comes to an end. I fall asleep wondering what lies ahead of us and how many will make it all the way to our final destination…