Iran Trip Diary: Part 3, Yazd

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Part 1: TehranPart 2: EsfahanPart 3: YazdPart 4: Shiraz
Thursday 23 October 2008پنج شنبه ۲ آبان ۱۳۸۷
DNA Lights in Yazd
DNA Lights in Yazd
(Or maybe the single-stranded one is RNA.)

My next stop was Yazd, an extraordinary, ancient city of mud brick buildings and high technology.

When I arrived in the bus station and went to book the next leg of my journey, the ticket office was chaotic, perhaps because it was the day before the weekend. Again I found myself suffering from the invisibility that had struck in the bank in Tehran; I just couldn’t figure out what to do in order to get noticed and served, without risking being rude. To make things more complicated there were several different bus lines offering journeys to Shiraz; after half an hour or so I managed to talk to the ticket seller for one of them, but their bus was leaving too late in the day so I had to try the next one.

After I’d stood in the second company’s office for ten minutes while other customers came and went, a young Iranian man noticed my plight and offered to help. I was reluctant to impose — and still optimistic that I’d eventually manage on my own — but he insisted, and walked straight up to a salesman in the office and sorted out the ticket immediately. My benefactor turned out to be studying molecular genetics at the local university.

Later, walking from the bus station to the city, after getting lost in a maze of winding alleys between buildings that might have belonged to Biblical times, I emerged beside a highway to see a billboard advertising, in English, “Real Time PCR”. Yazd is the biotech capital of Iran. I didn’t unpack my camera from my suitcase to snap that billboard, but later I took pictures of two of Yazd’s DNA-shaped light features.

View from the rooftop of Oasis Hotel, Yazd
View from the rooftop of Oasis Hotel, Yazd

When I reached the Silk Road Hotel, it turned out that, despite an emailed confirmation, I had no booking and there was no room spare. Fortunately, the owner of the hotel also owned another one a short distance away, the Oasis, and they were able to fit me in there.

I went back to the Silk Road for dinner. The hotel catered largely to Western backpackers, so the restaurant there offered some of the traditional Iranian vegetarian dishes that I’d been unable to find elsewhere. I had bademjun (eggplant) with tomato and garlic.

I chatted with some of the other diners; there was one Australian man from Brisbane, and people from Britain and all over Europe. One French woman had just had her bag snatched and lost her passport, as well as her camera with all her photos. Sadly her embassy could only provide her with a temporary travel document to return to France, not a replacement passport that would allow her to continue travelling.

Friday 24 October 2008جمعه ۳ آبان ۱۳۸۷

I spent the next day wandering around Yazd. Because it was a Friday, many historical sites were closed — and I never managed to find “Alexander’s Prison” from the instructions in my guidebook — but the ordinary buildings and alleys of the Old City were more than enough to make the experience worthwhile.

Badgirs in YazdAlleyway in Yazd
Buildings in YazdDoor-Knockers in Yazd
Wandering in Yazd

The chimney-like structure in the picture on the top left is a badgir, or wind tower, part of a system of natural airconditioning designed to exploit the steady wind from the surrounding desert.

The two door-knockers in the picture on the bottom right make distinguishable sounds; one is for men to use, the other for women, allowing the householders within to know the caller’s sex and respond accordingly.

Kooshkeno Complex, YazdZoroastrian Fire Temple, Yazd
Kooshkeno ComplexZoroastrian Fire Temple

According to a sign in English, this fort (above left) was part of the “10th Century Kooshkeno Complex”, though obviously mud-brick buildings like this are constantly maintained by successive generations, and might not contain much material that’s actually that old.

In the evening, I went looking for the ateshkadeh, the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, and walked right past it along Kashani Street before eventually doubling back and finally noticing the laneway that led to the entrance. The flame here (above right) has reputedly been burning since the year 470, albeit having been carried between several different cities over that time.

I dined in the Silk Road Hotel again — taking advantage of their vegetarian menu while I had the chance — and exchanged stories with the European backpackers. Many of them were in the middle of grand tours of the region, spending several months and visiting every country from India to Egypt.

Part 1: TehranPart 2: EsfahanPart 3: YazdPart 4: Shiraz

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