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Getting around

Part 4: Yazd and around, Kashan

11-12.8: Munich -> Dubai -> Sharjah -> Shiraz
13.8: Shiraz, Persepolis
14.8: Shiraz
15.8: Shiraz -> Pasargadae -> Abarqu -> Yazd
16.8: Yazd
17.8: Yazd -> Meybod -> Chak Chak -> Kharanaq -> Yazd

18.8: Yazd -> Abyaneh -> Kashan
19.8: Kashan -> Tehran -> Polour
20.8: Polour -> Camp 2 -> Camp 3
21.8: Camp 3 -> Mt Damavand summit -> Tehran
22.8: Tehran
23.8: Tehran -> Mashhad
24.8: Mashhad -> Tehran
25.8: Tehran -> Kuala Lumpur

17.8: Yazd -> Meybod -> Chak Chak -> Kharanaq -> Yazd
Yazd Traditional hotel, Yazd. Again the room hasn't been made today, which makes me think that service is a bit lacking here. Otherwise the staff in the reception is helpful, and helps me organising the trip.
Weather: same as yesterday - hot and sunny.

At 8am I leave with the taxi driver which the hotel staff organised for me for the Meybod-Chak Chak-Kharanaq loop. The driver can't speak English, so communication is complicated. But at least he knows all places. I can't however manage to convince him to also go to Ardakan - from Meybod he directly drives to Chak Chak.

We reach Meybod shortly before 9am and stop at the Narin castle (ticket: 2000 Rial only). This is a quite impressive structure, a castle made out of mud bricks, currently being restored. This is actually the highlight of Meybod, because the other sights (the post office, the ice tower etc.) are less interesting. Meybod village is picturesque, with a dried red mud colour. Very scenic.

At 9:30am (just a bit over half an hour in Meybod) we start driving towards Chak Chak. This is a Zoroastrian site on a cliff in the mountains, although not much is there to be seen. Driving there takes about 50 minutes along empty desert roads. There is a small Zoroastrian shrine in a cave. I spend half an hour here, then shortly before 11am we start driving towards the last place, Kharanaq.

Before getting there we stop in a small village in the mountain, Hamaneh. This lies next to the cliffs, where there is a water well. Lots of nuts trees, the whole picturesque village depends on agriculture. We walk around a bit through this mud brick village, then the driver enters the house of an old woman, who perhaps is his mother.

At 11:45am we leave this place and drive to Kharanaq, arriving there shortly before 12pm. Kharanaq is a small village, very picturesque, but has only one restaurant along the main road at the entrance of the town. Since it's noon time we have some lunch in this place (again chicken kebab with rice). Then, at 1pm I start exploring the village.

Kharanaq, the scenic part of it with the caravanserai and the other stuff, lies on a cliff above an irrigated valley, where farmers grow something in the fields. I spend half an hour in this place, then we drive back to Yazd, arriving one hour later at 2:30pm. The whole loop has taken six and a half hours. The cost is 500000 Rial (about 32 Euro).

In the hotel I rest and download the images of the day. At 5:40pm I get out again, this time using another car which is not even a taxi. As usual I just tell the driver where I want to go, but don't ask what the price is (the taxis have no meter). This is because so far people have been charging very reasonable amounts. I wonder if as a foreigner I get a special (i.e. better) treatment.

We arrive at the Towers of Silence, the old place where the Zoroastrians used to place the bodies of their dead so that the birds would eat them, shortly before 6pm. These are two towers on hilltops, at the southern end of Yazd. It takes a few minutes of climbing to get up there. Nice views of Yazd, otherwise there is not too much to see.

I spend a bit over half an hour there, then get back to the car. We drive back to the hotel. The whole trip has taken one hour and a half and the driver asks for 120000 Rial, which seems reasonable considering the waiting time.

It's 7pm and I'd like to climb on the Amir Chak Mak complex for some nice sunset views, but nobody is there and I'm told to try in the morning. So I just walk to yesterday's Hosseinieh, where I take some panorama shots at sunset. While there I meet a Spanish and a Turkish tourist.

Back in the hotel I ask for a car for tomorrow to Kashan. We agree for a car to bring me to Abyaneh and Kashan for USD 100 leaving at 8:30am.

18.8: Yazd -> Abyaneh -> Kashan
Khan-e Ehsan traditional house, Kashan. 200000 Rial for a basic room with a non-working air-conditioning (room temperature does not drop, it's 29C at 11pm). Supposedly it's a water based A/C system, but it does not manage to lower the temperatures. At night it's probably hotter in the room than outside. The room is quite basic, but has a fridge, a table + chair and a mirror. No attached bathroom, but the bathroom on the same floor belongs to the room. Breakfast included. Free Internet access (WLAN) through the hotel hotspot, fastest hotel WLAN so far. The room is reasonable clean. The hotel is in a traditional house with a nice inner courtyard.
Weather: as usual hot and sunny, although today there are more clouds in the sky and during the day the sky is even overcast for some time.

I'm at the reception at 8:00am asking for the laundry which should already have been delivered yesterday. The guy says 'wait'. After breakfast, at 8:30am, I'm back in the lobby with my luggage at 8:30am, but there is no laundry and no car. I speak with some people, apply some pressure and finally the car and the laundry arrive. The driver confirms the 1000000 Rial for the trip to Abyaneh and Kashan.

We finally leave at 9am, stop for lunch between 12pm and 1pm in a roadside cafeteria restaurant, then we lose some time trying to find Abyaneh.

It's 3pm when I finally can start exploring Abyaneh. Even then, I initially walk in the wrong direction, then find the correct path. This is one case where a local guide would have been useful.

Abyaneh (the old village part of it) is a nice mountain village at 2200-2300 metres above sea level, with a relatively fresh air and nice setting. Picturesque red brick houses, old women all wearing traditional clothes, narrow alleys, cool architecture. Quite a few Iranian tourists from the big cities visiting (recognisable from the more fashionable headscarf).

I wish I had more time, but it's late in the afternoon and the driver has to get back to Yazd, so after just 45 minutes I stop my visit of Abyaneh and walk back to the driver. You can see that he is quite impatient and in fact we have lost time when looking for this place. We should have arrived here one hour earlier.

It's almost 4pm when we continue driving towards Kashan, arriving around 5pm. Once in Kashan I want to have a look at this newly built Khan-e Ameriha hotel. I turns out that the hotel has not opened yet. So I tell the driver to bring me to the nearby Khan-e Ehsan hotel.

When I'm about to pay the driver, he is asking for 80 Euro or 1200000 Rial. Some discussion and it turns out that not surprisingly he is charging 200000 Rial for the stop in Abyaneh, because the day is now lasting longer than expected for him. Some discussion, we settle on 1100000 Rial and in the end he only wants 70 Euro.

So I leave in the hotel and shortly after 6pm start exploring Kashan. The things to see in Kashan basically are the traditional houses and the Fin garden which supposedly is very nice.

While walking in the area of the traditional houses, at 6:20pm I visit the Amir Ahmad historical bath (ticket: 20000 Rial), which has a very interesting interior, richly decorated etc. I spend more than 25 minutes there, even the roof is accessible and interesting.

After that, shortly before 7pm while I'm exploring the area looking for the Tabatabei house, I run into a couple of young Swiss, who are touring the world in a motorbike. They have left Switzerland two months ago and are crossing Iran on their way to India and Malaysia. They will also have to cross Pakistan and are very nervous about that.

We head to the cafe of the Abbasi traditional house and have a long chat until 8:15pm. Interestingly they are sleeping not in the hotel, but in a mosque.

After that I just walk back to the hotel. Tomorrow I'm supposed to meet Fatemeh in Tehran with whom I will do the Mt Damavand climb.

19.8: Kashan -> Tehran -> Polour
Hostel of the Iranian Mountaineering Federation in Polour, 450000 Rial for a six people room. Room with six beds and attached toilet (what a luxury in such a place). There is however almost no water in the toilet, so that for a shower you must use the shower in the ground floor.
Weather: relatively fresh in the morning in Kashan (also because there is some clouds cover), very hot at noon. Some small cloud every now and then. Quite fresh in the evening in Polour, I have to dress up a bit.

I get up at 8am, skip breakfast (eat some of the cookies I bought yesterday) and at 9:30am I ask in the reception if they can organise a taxi to Tehran for me at 1pm. Regarding lunch, the hotel has no restaurant, but Ati, the friendly receptionist, says she can order some food for me for 12:30pm.

So my day starts. I walk to the area with the traditional houses. The first I visit is the Tabatabei one (20000 Rial ticket). Impressive architecture, rich decorations, nice inner court with a pond. Sort of a Persian garden.

Then I visit the nearby Abbasi traditional house (20000 Rial ticket). More or less as impressive as the Tabatabei one, but a bit less sophisticated and larger.

Finally I visit the Khan-e Ameriha traditional house. The ticket surprisingly costs only 7000 Rial, but there is a reason for that as I later find out. Basically large parts of the Ameriha house are a work in progress and large sections are not accessible. Supposedly the Ameriha house is being converted into a hotel (and works have been going on for years, because the LP guidebook of 2008 mentions this already).

At 11:25am I've got enough of traditional houses, which more or less resemble all each other, and after a short drink break, start walking towards the old city walls from where there should be good views of Kashan.

It takes a while to reach the entrance to the walls and some skill to climb on them, because there are no staircases. Quite dangerous actually, because after climbing up I have to walk for a while on the edge of unstable mud brick walls (wearing slippers by the way). But from these walls there are some nice views of Kashan,

It's 12:10pm when I start rushing back to the hotel. In the meantime the hotel receptionist has called and asked if I want to postpone the taxi, which I do (to 1:15pm). I rush back to the hotel and manage to be there at 12:35pm. I have lunch and at 1:10pm check out.

The driver arrives shortly after that (his name is Reza, listed in the Lonely Planet guidebook). I call Fatemeh, my contact in Tehran and ask her to explain the driver how to reach her home. We leave for Tehran at 1:30pm. I pay Reza 35 Euro for the trip, while his brother will drive the car.

We reach Tehran in about three hours. While driving, lots of phone calls with Fatemeh to clarify how to reach her home. I finally arrive shortly before 5pm.

I bring my luggage to Fatemeh's home and say hello to her and her husband. They live in a nice neighbourhood in northern Tehran. Both are members of the Iranian mountaineering federation and will lead me to Mt Damavand. While we are chatting a friend of Fatemeh arrives, Omid. He is also doing the Damavand climb for the first time.

Around 6pm we leave for Polour, a small town at the foot of Mt Damavand. Here we "set up camp" at the hostel of the Iranian Mountaineering Federation. We spend the evening chit-chatting and having some tea. Tomorrow we'll start at 8am.

Copyright 2011 Alfred Molon