Tehran is the busy, dusty and chaotic center of Iran. After four months of cycling from Rotterdam in the Netherlands I reached this city. A practical stop because I’m not a city lover. I prefer the welcoming interior of nature, tranquility and special meetings. I just can’t get used to the crowds, the smell, the dust, the hurried life and the commercial nature of the big cities. Still, it’s nice to be in this city for a week to just rest for a bit. I’m in good hands. Iranian people are kind and generous.
This is Delyar, who shows me every place in Tehran and when needed she drives me in her white Peugeot 206 to the embassy of any country.
In Tehran, I soon found out that after the robbery near Tabriz I no longer had enough money to pay for my visas. It turns out that with the international sanctions against Iran, it is impossible to take cash from my Dutch bank account in any way. An attempt to indirectly tranfer money to an exchange office in Tehran was arrested by the Dutch bank. It was an introduction to one of the many blockades that the Iranian people are confronted with. Fortunately, the Dutch embassy was willing to mediate me financially.
Tehran is unique. In this big city I’m not invited like many people do in the interior of Iran, to have dinner or to spend the night. Still, it is interesting to see how the public character of the city is different from the Western cities.
The south of Tehran has a large traditional bazaar. In the city you will notice the Islamic influences. Even it is 45 degrees, men wear no shorts or shirts without sleeves in public. In the subways and buses there are spaces that are only accessible for women. You will not be bored there, it is a public place where many street vendors are selling handy and cheap gadgets. It kind of looks like a sale show.
Iran is for the most part a traditional Islamic (Shia) society. In the city there are several interesting mosques that serve as houses of worship for both men and women (separately, of course). The government is quite strict in adhering the Islamic traditions. There are dress codes, a chador for women is not mandatory but it is required to cover your hair with a scarf.
In the Netherlands we have the freedom to wear and behave as we want. Even some people take this a little bit too far, we can generally do whatever we want. Probably one of the reasons why I had to wait six days before I had an appointment at the Dutch embassy.
The traffic is chaotic. Everything goes right through each other. Motorcycles are popular, maneuvering anywhere in between. Probably the only way to get to your appointment on time.
Overnight Tehran is also definitely worth a watch. It has several places during the day or in the evening where you can have a very nice view of the entire city.
And Ringo? He also is taking some rest like a pro-tourist. Here visiting the Masoudieh Palace in the center of the city.
At this time I prepare myself for a cycle ride through the hot summer degrees of Central Asia. My plan is to go through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and further to China. I removed Tajikistan and Pakistan from my list. Besides a lot of paperwork and bureaucratic money spending it remains uncertain whether Northern Pakistan is safe enough to cross with my bicycle. I chose to explore China and will cycle above Tibet to the east and eventually will enter Laos to reach the very south located Singapore.
If anyone has advice on this route please let me know in the comment section below!