Friday, May 5, 2006


What a horrid night's sleep I had. I stayed in a full dorm room at a hostel. Esfahan in May is like Amsterdam in the middle of summer. The dorm's ventilation was a window onto a busy street. There was no question of closing it even though it was so noisy.

It was so much hotter in Esfahan than I'd experienced the entire trip. That combined with fatigue & dehydration from the previous day meant that I didn't have much energy for walking around. Quite why I spent the day walking around is beyond me. I should have found a nice bit of lawn in a park & read. Being a Friday everything that I tried to get into was closed. On one occasion I had a little amusement trying to get into one 'monument', the Cathedral of Vank in the Armenian quarter of Jolfa. I'd taken a wrong turn on the way there, when I asked an old codger for directions I was lead through the quarter by him while he pointed out this shop or that building was Armenian & also 'helpfully' say "English" whenever he saw a sign with words in Latin script, including email addresses. After shuffling across Jolfa for 20 minutes or so we found the Cathedral, closed.

A totally non-photogenic haze sat over the city the whole day. I could find no enthusiasm for photography.

I talked for a while with Sebastien about Tibet & the way to cycle there. He was planning to cycle there & moreover had visited Tibet before though traveling by bus & truck. He told me of the difficulty in getting food along the route, other than instant noodles. He was also a big fan of Pakistan. He confirmed thoughts I'd had had that the timing of my trip through Tibet wasn't good, that I shouldn't think of leaving Kashgar before about the end of August. It all made me think whether cycling in Pakistan & going over Karakorum highway, as I'd originally considered, would suit me better. I'll have some time to think about it & opportunity to get the necessary visa in Central Asia somewhere.

I went to Imam Squeeze, the central square of Esfahan in the late afternoon & caught Sunset on the magnificent Imam Mosque. Even though part of the building was obscured by scaffolding its tiles made it an amazing site. It was unlike the Turkish mosques I'd seen in Istanbul. Those followed a pattern where there was generally the open courtyard containing the ablutions area for washing was separate from an internal space closed with doors & covered with a domed roof. The Imam Mosque had an external gate which lead into an open courtyard which had 4 spaces, including the entrance hall, that were covered but not closed with a door or gate. I suppose these differences could be explained by climate, the design in Esfahan was well suited to the warm Southern climate while devotees in Istanbul would appreciate the closed design on a freezing winter's morning.

After sunset Imam Square filled with groups of people with picnics & strolling around. Watching the peoplescape was a pleasant end to the day.

I cycled 0 km

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