Sunday, May 7, 2006

Night bus to Esfahan & Shiraz bus terminal

The night bus dropped a dazed me off in Shiraz at 6am. The walk into town woke me up. Along the way I ate some delicious fresh warm flatbread from a street-side bakery.

The previous day I'd booked a tour of Persopolis with a pickup point of a travel agency down town at 8am. The tour turned out to be excellent value. For the price of 8USD a small group (6 people) were driven with a knowledgeable guide in a minibus to Persopolis as well to a site containing a number of tombs of Persian kings from the same era, i.e. 500BC. Both the tomb site & Persopolis were very impressive. The tombs carved into a rock face above a plain. Persopolis was a ceremonial city that the Persian kings would use only during the period of No Ruz, the Persian New Year which is celebrated at the beginning of Spring. Interestingly No Ruz survived the Arab invasion that imposed Islam & even now it is still celebrated, with full knowledge & pride even of its pre-Islamic origin. The city & the No Ruz celebrations seem to have been used to maintain the integrity of the multi-ethnic Persian Empire. There were prominent relieves of the various subject peoples, from Libya to Ionia & even India, making offerings & showing subservience to the Persian king. It was also an impressively hot day, the first in which shadows & iced water were really appreciated. I couldn't imagine how it would be like in the middle of August, something that thankfully I won't learn. It also gave me feelings of apprehension for the upcoming desert passages that I'll be making where I'll be able to expect much hotter temperatures.

In the afternoon Ramon, a Spanish guy on the tour, & I were taken to some nice spots around Shiraz by Sarah & Mahsa, a couple of young women from Shiraz who went on the tour to study the art of tour guiding. On the tour they were studies in conservative dressing as they both wanted to work for the agency. When they met us they'd changed into something trendy & wore head scarves that certainly would have got them into some troubles in the years after the revolution.We visited a wonderful old house that the lord of the town had lived in which was now incorporated into the bazaar. Later on we were taken to the tombs of 2 of Iran's most loved poets, Hafez & Sadi. Both from the 14/15 C of the Christian era. The former is venerated in a spiritual, almost religious fashion. We saw people kneeling by his tomb & touching it with great reverence. Traditionally people ask Hafez's advise by taking a volume of his poetry, asking a question in the mind, opening the volume to a random page then reading the first poem on that page for an answer to the question. Some take this 'divination' very seriously. One of the woman brought along a book of Hafez's poetry & I respectably asked him for satisfaction in life. The random poem told me to seize the day, not terribly radical but a nice reminder of something important & certainly relevant to the question. The whole thing was like a horoscope as the poem gave plenty of room for interpretation but much more fun. Then we went to Sadi's tomb which was set in a nice watered garden. There was a 'wishing' pond, one mad a wish then threw a coin into the pond, if it landed on the bottom of the pond with same side up as when in one's palm before throwing then one's wish was supposed to come true. In my case I wished for a successful cycling journey, my wish is supposed to come true.

After dinner & taking leave of my new friends I went to the bus station where there was a nice comfortable bus for me. I had 2 seats all to myself. As a bonus they didn't show a movie. I thought that this would be a good sleep catch up night, how wrong I was...

I cycled 0 km

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