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Monthly Archives: October 2010

What’s that in my pocket?

Despite what people might think, one tends to carry quite some stuff around on a trip around the world. Useful items include for example an ‘iPhone simcard cutter’ and a southern hemisphere compass.

The big question is: where do you keep all that stuff? The answer seems obvious (backpack), however in practice the storage options include:
– 6 pockets in my backpack
– 2 special fishnet-like bags for inside my backpack – 8 pockets in my trousers
– 4 pockets in my ‘valuables bag’

That’s a lot of pockets. Again, the answer seems obvious: develop a system for remembering what’s where. In practice this has proven to be challenging. Important things go into the valuables bag, that is stored in the hotel safe. Unless you don’t trust the hotel. Jackets are at the bottom of the backpack (it’s 31 degrees during the day) excepts when the nights cool down to below 10 degrees. Socks are on top of the backpack, but my feet have swollen to much because of the heat so they are no longer useful. Etc.

Fortunately, I’ve got more than enough time to think about these things and my stress levels are still manegable, but I fear what will happen to my system once I change climate.

Golestan palace: more is more!


Who said that ‘bling’ is a recent trend?

Getting used

After the initial period where everything seemed different from the life I knew, Tehran is getting ‘normal’. 5 lanes of cars and motorbikes storming at me while I cross a red light: no sweat. Finding my around the city: easy! Speaking Farsi (iranian) with a vocabulary of 3 words: pas de probleme M

monsieur !

The Iranian currency (rial) is collapsing: compared with yesterday the country is almost 3% cheaper. Compared with 2 weeks ago it’s almost 20%. Welcome to the Weimar republic!

There’s an interesting twist on the ‘forbidden DELL computers’ story of yesterday. When I discussed this with an Iranian guy he said: “just because we disagree politically, doesn’t mean that DELL can’t make great computers”.
Surprisingly Coca Cola seems to agree that you can make profit from an enemy as they even produce their drinks in Iran (and they’re drunk by every irani in this alcohol free country).

Visited today the Tehran bazar (which mostly sells wholesale) and the amazing Golestan palace. Will fly to Shiraz tomorrow. Also found a ticket to New Delhi for only 160 euro (total cost Amsterdam – India is less than 400 euro!). There’s still enough to see in Tehran for when I come back.

Getting used

After the initial period where everything seemed different from things I knew, Tehran is getting ‘normal’.

No Twitter & Facebook

I just noticed, but Twitter and Facebook are blocked in Iran (I can post via posterous).

Teheran, quite a ride

This afternoon I visited the contemporary art museum which has a shockingly beautiful collection (van gogh, picasso etc.) and shockingly few visitors. Immediately afterwards my observation about contact with female Iranians was proven wrong when both an old lady and a group of younger ones initiated contact.

People who have seen me recently must have noticed that I stopped shaving. I did this out of politeness for my iranian hosts. Now it appears that they take it as an insult that a foreigner adapts his appearance in such a strong way because of iranian tradition. Therefore I’ve shaved this afternoon, which has as disadvantage that it singles me out as a tourist.

Teheran feels more expensive than it is in reality due to the large amounts (1 euro is 14.800 rials), but still I find the place quite pricy.

Tehran reminds me of Buenos Aires: both have a glorious past and are currently full with locally produced cheap Peugeot cars.

I had ‘dinner’ (kebab) in the north of Tehran with a member of the Iranian inventor association who developed a new kind of bike (100% transformation of energy into power for the back wheel). I met the guy on the street as he saw me struggling with a map of tehran. He’s a nice guy and we’ll meet again tomorrow. My way to the north of Tehran was quite exciting: I was waiting for a taxi when a motorbike stopped and offered a ride, which I accepted. This resulted in a manic half hour ride through Tehran (without helmets). As my blood pressure increased I could observe the following driving strategies:
– if your side of the road is full, switch to the other side (even when the road is physically separated in two)
– if a moving object appears in front of you: accelerate (breaking always is the last option)
– if there’s a big hole in the road: continue as normal, evade at the last possible moment
– (this one is from yesterday) if you miss your exit on the highway: revert until you get a second opportunity to leave the highway
It literally took me 15 mins to stop shaking after I stepped off. Chances of repeating this method of transport are slim.

Other noteworthy events: car crash between two cars with guests of the same wedding. Shop selling DELL products (it is strictly forbidden for anybody working at DELL to sell products to Iran) in front of the former USA embassy. The building is currently called ‘den of thieves’ and is decorated with paintings that display a less than favorable opinion of the USA.

First impressions of Tehran

These are mu first impressions of Tehran after walking around the south part of the city for a couple of hours.

First of all the language barrier is bigger than I thought. Yes, one can always quickly find somebody who speaks English, but it does make life a lot more complicated than say in nepal or myamar.

Shopping is the most efficient I’ve ever seen as each street is dedicated to a single product: lamps, shoes etc.

Needless to say that I haven’t spoken with a single female iranian yet (whereas I’ve spoken with almost a dozen men). The modern girls seem to compete for the ‘largest sunglasses’ award.

Traffic is the worst I’ve seen: crossing a road means throwing yourself for a car a hope that he’ll stop or evade.

There’s a remarkable absence of bars and restaurants (maybe I’ve been in the wrong place, but I only saw one fruit juice bar until now).

Poverty is mostly absent and I’ve seen very few beggars (which surprises me as i’ve stayed mostly in the poor south).