Tuesday 13 March 2012

Iran: Alone in Tehran

Iran: Alone in Tehran - Ramble and Wander

I left the journalist guy and walked around Imam Khomeini Square for a bit, only to experience the hospitality of a total stranger, again. This time, a young guy who was seated and was people watching, I guess, said hello and extended his hand to offer me some chocolates from the box that he was holding. The gesture might not mean much to most but then I don’t actually remember when was the last time a total stranger do such a thing without really expecting anything in return.

After thanking the guy, who smiled while waving me off like it's nothing, I headed to Golestan Palace (The Rose Garden) Complex which is part of one of the oldest historic monuments in Tehran with buildings originally dating back from the 16th century. The palace complex was very much in use until around mid-20th century when the Pahlavis built their palace in Niavaran, (then) in the outskirts of Tehran, to allow for the expansion of the city of Tehran.

Iran: Alone in Tehran at Golestan Palace - Ramble and Wander

Unfortunately, the palace complex was already closed by the time I got there but luckily, I still managed to take a photo or two of the place. From the little that I could see, I knew almost immediately that it’s a place that I have to get back to one day if I ever get to visit Tehran again.

Iran: Alone in Tehran at Golestan Palace - Ramble and Wander

From Golestan Palace Complex, I went to the Grand Bazaar to have a look around and do some people watch. The sidewalk pavement right in front of the bazaar is quite wide and was full of locals walking along, doing business and minding their own business. It is obvious that this bazaar caters for the locals, and locals only, very much unlike Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, which perhaps caters for tourists, and tourists only. This gives rise to quite a stark contrast and provided a different experience altogether. It was such a beehive I could have taken plenty of photos of the people walking around in front of the bazaar to show the hustle and bustle of the place. However, I was still quite worried about the possibility of offending someone (especially since there’re a lot of women, young and old), who might just submit a complaint to the local police monitoring the place from a van parked nearby.

(Admittedly I was probably being too over cautious but at the same time I think, travelling alone in a country like Iran, and still trying to adapt to the local culture and expectations on my very first day there, made me more conscious about personal safety, whatever the reasons may be. 😓)

Iran: Alone in Tehran at Grand Bazaar - Ramble and Wander

From Grand Bazaar, I walked back to the hotel but not before stopping for dinner at a traditional restaurant called Shabestan Traditional Restaurant, located across the road and around the corner from my hotel. The restaurant was recommended by Muhammad, who pointed it out to me while on the way to dropping me off at the hotel earlier in the afternoon. 

Traditional restaurant is just what the name depicts, a traditional restaurant. A somewhat traditional look and ambience, with traditional menus and some live traditional music. It was, however, the month of Muharram, i.e. the first month of the year in the Muslim calendar, which, in Shiah’s faith, is one of the mourning months. There were black flags on the road almost everywhere as part of the remembrance, and of course no music or entertainment in public. So dinner was a rather sombre affair with nothing much to enjoy other than the food, and enjoy the food I did, despite being alone in Tehran.

Iran: Eating Alone in Tehran - Ramble and Wander

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Iran: Alone in Tehran - Ramble and Wander

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  1. Hi, thanks for this blog- enjoyable reading- beautiful photos

    1. Hi Gillian! Thanks for reading and for the compliment too :)

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