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Closing impressions of Iran


We arrived in Damascus last night and are having a bit of an admin day today. Dave is registering us for Glastonbury next to me, we've just booked flights to Malawi (woop), going to the post office next. Oh the excitement.

So here are my final impressions of Iran and a few miscellaneous observations i've jotted down

1. Travelling round the country has been a breeze. Mountains, deserts, lakes and cities all connected by a fantastic and cheap transport network.
2. An obsession with shoes. Shoe shops are *everywhere*. Shoe menders and cleaners are everywhere. Every hotel room provides you with an abundance of plastic sandals on a rack. Every home has shoes outside the door and inside sandals outside the bathroom. There are shoes in many toilets. Even in the airport as we were leaving there was a shelf of these sandals next to the metal detectors and I have no idea why.
3. Mystery switches. Every hotel room we have ever stayed in has at least one switch that does nothing. Every. single. one.
4. There are huge piles of watermelons everywhere
5. Squat toilets and water hoses really werent designed for women and require a unexpected amount of dexterity/timing
6. We have a favourite non alcoholic beer called Heyday, which is a very refreshing lemon-meets-malt flavour. There are other brands but this one is the best. I wonder if you can get it in London somewhere.
7. Standard hotel checkout at 2pm. This should be an international standard!
8. Shops here are very specialist. Shoe shops only sell shoes (not laces, nor odor eaters). Cosmetic shops only sell cosmetics (not hairbands). This makes it quite tricky to buy specific things when you dont know where your type of shop lives.
9. There are butterflies everywhere. You cant be outside anywhere without a beautiful butterfly in sight. I resolve to plant butterfly friendly plants in my garden when I get one.
10. Everything is covered in the manufacturers plastic. All office-like chairs for certain wherever you encounter them like ticket offices or internet cafes - but usually they are broken :) I have seen clocks on the wall and even remote controls wrapped in plastic.
11. The people and the government are not in any way in alignment either in outlook or demeanor. This makes people very self conscious about what we as visitors think, and how iranians are percieved back home. They are bothered. Of course we have only really spoken with people who are interested in tourists so perhaps that is a biased view but we havent encountered any attitude to the contrary.
12. It feels as if everything is about 30 years behind the UK. fashion, decor, attitudes, most equipment and services. This actually gives me hope.
13. It turns out I can't sit crossed legged for more than 15 minutes and it is surprisingly difficult to eat from the plastic table sheet on the floor when you sit sidesaddle. Also see point number 5 - i really need to go back to yoga classes when I get back.
14. Everywhere we go there is building work going on. In the countryside this is done by teams of men by hand. This gives every town a living feel to it.
15. Family is everything and they really get on with each other. Not only that but as a visitor you feel like one of the family too.
16. The country is a place where people *live*. It's hard to explain this point but it's connected to point 15. People in London *work* and *play* for example rather than live - the living stuff is what happens in between work and play i think. But here people here live for and with each other, and even the work people are doing feels like a way just to support their home lives where they can be with their families and in their communities. Perhaps that is because it is an old culture, perhaps it is the islamic cultural influence - that i'm not so sure of without experiencing other islamic cultures. Whatever the reason it makes the place feel unshakable and is a core atmosphere everywhere we pass through.

Anyway I'm sure more will occur to me as we continue but for now it's goodbye Iran, hello Syria.

Posted by rachndave 04:14 Archived in Iran Tagged final_thoughts observations

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Re point 2 "Even in the airport as we were leaving there was a shelf of these sandals next to the metal detectors and I have no idea why."
Maybe they sometimes ask people to take their shoes off and put them through the machine thing (as they do here), and so they don't have to walk barefoot through the metal detector they are offered sandals? Good idea!

I remember the piles of watermelons from Holloway, must be a cultural thing...

by Anna Black

A national obsession with shoes you say? Tim, we're going to Iran. Really enjoying reading about your adventures. I am being lazy today and having cream tea in a hotel while the others have their own adventure coasteering off Polzeath.

by Vicky

it was nice seeing things from your point of view...

by Mahsa (Moony)

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