I can't come up with a clever title for this entry
Trip Start Apr 21, 2008
225Trip End Apr 20, 2009
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I left the hotel at 7 am so I could catch my 730 bus to Yazd. In Iran, when you reserve or buy a bus ticket, it is obvious that the bus companies consider your gender before issuing a seat number. Each time I go on a long distance bus, the men are found sitting next to the men and the women are found sitting next to the women. This bus ride was no different. The first five rows were filled with women. I sat in the sixth row. When another female boarded the bus, I was asked to move up a row so he could have my seat. It is really amazing how they keep the men away from the women.
I arrived in Yazd at around 130 pm. The drive was really nice as we went through some beautiful desert scenery. As usual, taxi drivers hounded us as we got off the bus. My cab driver was super nice. He was so excited about having a foreigner in his cab that he would endlessly point out all the points of interest along the way to my hostel. When I arrived just outside my hostel, I noticed this massive truck that looked more like a tank. Considering how it was "decorated", I knew right away that it belonged to travelers. It is amazing what people think of when it comes to different ways of seeing the world. I later found out that it belonged to 2 English guys I met in Esfahan.
As soon as I walked into the hostel, I immediately felt like I was home. Almost everyone I met from my hostel is Esfahan was staying here. It was good to see Gallo and Joseph especially. I joined the group at their table immediately after I dropped my backpack on one of the beds in my dorm - a signal to others that the bed was now taken. Because it was still early in the afternoon, the sun was still strong which meant that everyone was just hanging out in the hostel until it got cooler. I should note that Yazd is in the middle of the desert so it is very hot during the day. I enjoyed being with a big group again I ended up meeting one Finnish girl who was telling me all about her time in Iran. She has enjoyed her experience a lot but unfortunately she is always approached by men asking her to sleep with them. Not the first time I have heard this from a female traveler. She said it was more of a nuisance than anything else. When she says no they normally leave her alone. The men are really sexually repressed here. The Finnish girl also told me that she was going to visit Iraq - more specifically the Northern part which she referred to as the "safe" part. It probably is safe but I think I will avoid Iraq all together. Besides, my parents would shoot me if they ever found out.
A lot of people at the table were writing in their diaries or typing on their laptop. Gallo, however, was the unique person of the group as he didn't maintain a journal but rather a scrapbook. He cuts out different things he sees in magazines or newspapers and pastes them into a book. Meanwhile he adds some of his own artwork to make it more visually appealing. I really liked this approach. It makes me think that I may want to start something like this when I get home. I think it is a great creative outlet.
By late afternoon, Gallo, the Finnish girl and myself went walking around Yazd. We first went to the Jameh Mosque. Nice but nothing compared to the mosques we saw in Esfahan. The rest of the afternoon we just walked around the old part of Yazd. Yazd apparently is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. During our walk we didn't see anything special which was fine with me. Sometimes I just don't want to see anything. I would rather just walk around and today was one of those days. We did come across a lot of young kids who were more than eager to have us take pictures of them. We were more than happy to do so.
Shortly after our little tour of the town, we went out for supper. We were able to arrange a group of 10 people from the hostel to go to a nearby hotel that was known to serve a great buffet of Iranian food. Some of the people in the group went the previous night and said they ate like kings. I was fine with eating like a king for a night so I obviously joined them.
After supper, everyone went back to the hostel and relaxed but I was a bit restless. I ended up convincing 2 guys from the group - Joe from England and Chong from Singapore - to go out for a walk along the main road with me. I was surprised as the streets were pretty dead. The few locals we would walk by would say hello to us and each of them were more than happy each time we said hello back to them. I did notice 3 young guys sitting by a shoe shop just staring at us as we walked by. They were one of the few people not to say hello although I did say "Salaam" towards their direction just because it was habit to do so. Shortly after we walked by them, I noticed 4 kids playing foosball so I went up to them a challenged each of them to play one game against a foreigner. They were all more than happy to do so. I won the first 3 games but lost the last 2. While I was playing the last 2 games the 3 guys who I earlier spotted sitting by the shoe shop came over to watch. When I was done playing, they came up to me and shook my hand and started talking to me. They explained that they normally don't talk to foreigners as they think we don't want to be bothered by locals but when they saw me volunteer to play foosball with the young kids they sensed that I was friendly enough and that I would be ok with them approaching me. I was happy to hear that I gave off such a positive vibe. I told them they should do it more often as travelers enjoy it when locals talk to them. I explained that we were always approached by locals on the streets and they should therefore not hesitate to do the same. These 3 guys then invited Joe, Chong and myself out for a tea. I looked over to Chong and Joe and they both nodded so I told the guys that we were in.
We ended up walking across the street and through a narrow alleyway into this very nice hotel that had a beautiful courtyard in the back. We found a carpet to sit on. The guys introduced themselves. There was Reza 1 (who spoke the best English and acted as the group translator), Reza 2 (who never spoke at all) and Massoud (who you could tell just loved being there with us). I felt bad as the whole time the guys were talking to me and totally ignoring Chong and Joe. I would try to get them involved in the conversation and they would answer but Reza and his crew would just nod after they spoke and then return to me. It made me a bit uncomfortable but I don't think Joe and Chong really cared as they were enjoying their tea and cookies. Most of the conversation was about what we (or I) thought about Iran and the people. So many of the locals think we perceive the country as being filled with terrorists and religious fanatics. This may be partly true but I didn't express this. I just honestly told that I thought the people here were incredibly friendly and amazingly intelligent and that every other traveler I met thought the exact same thing. They were so happy to hear that from me. I explained to them that the travelers they see walking through their streets probably educated themselves about Iran before deciding to come here and learned that it was a safe and great place to visit. You could see that they were happy (and partly relieved) that I, along with other travelers I have met, have nothing but positive things to say about Iran and its people.
Before we called it a night, Reza 1 asked if he and his friends could show me around Yazd tomorrow night. I felt bas as Chong and Joe weren't invited. I accepted even though I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of driving in a car through the streets of Yazd at night with 3 guys I didn't know. But sometimes you have to take your chances. If you say no too many times you may miss out on some cool experiences. However saying yes too many times could get you in trouble too. The guys seemed decent enough that I said yes.
Tomorrow I find out if I get my Syrian visa.
PS - If you got to this point, you realized I was right. It was a waste of time to read this.