IRAN
Desert, camels and salt lake at Kashan
October 24, 2017
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To Kashan around anti-aircraft guns

Departure to the Isfahan Bus Station was according to the classic scenario. Stop a taxi, negotiate a reasonable price and then find someone to show us where to buy a ticket and from which platform the bus departs. Almost every car can be your taxi, and it’s easier to haggle the price down than with a regular taxi driver. At the bus station, you just look confused and lost, and someone will take care of you immediately. Not sure if those people are employees destined for lost souls, or they just hound people around to fill the buses, but we have never paid more we were supposed to. Of course only if they don’t state that there is just one bus (the more expensive one) in a few hours, which happened to us in Shiraz. Then you have to ask someone else for a cheaper or an earlier one.

I was looking forward to the journey to Kashan because the road runs around the Natanz Nuclear Power Plant, where they also enrich uranium and the facility is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns. But in the end, it was nothing spectacular. At many places, there was a “wall” from piles of clay so some disobedient tourists could not take a photo and give it to the US or Israel. Or not to end at a long and unpleasant interrogation (in the better case).

The king of couchsurfing in Kashan

At the bus station in Kashan, we raised false hopes of earnings in one taxi driver, but we only needed to call to our next couchsurfer to pick up us. That couchsurfer was a local couchsurfing guru Mohammad with 500 references. He took us to his home, accommodated in their bedroom with a giant bed and fed with a great pasta. While we were drinking a few cups of tea, a driver with his little son (let’s call him Mowgli) was already waiting for us to go to the desert and the salt lake.

For the first time in our lives, we were greeted by camels in the desert, and by other dunes. Those in the Varzaneh desert were more interesting, though there should be bigger dunes behind the Maranjab caravanserai, which we also went to visit. Not that we knew why, but the driver brought us there enthusiastically. It should serve as an accommodation, but it was all unfinished and the only people there were workers. For just a short visit and tea, we were punished by paying about 10,000 tomans.

In particular, I wanted to make it to the Namak salt lake for the sunset, which is not far, but the sun was already damn low. Luckily, we made it and did not forget to taste the ground to check if it is salty. Although we had the opportunity to spend as much time as we wanted to in the desert, Mowgli was already tired, so we did not wait for the starry sky and headed back to Kashan.

The journey from the salt lake lasted well over an hour. The last stop was at Mohammed Helal mosque in the nearby town of Aran va Bigdol, where we ate a melon and saw graves next to the mosque for the first time. They consisted only of tiles with the name of the person, and everybody could walk on them.

Back at home we had a dinner (maybe I should have written the names of meals because I do not remember any except for kebab) and watched news that informed about the events in the world in the same way like western media inform about the Middle East.

Over the roofs of a bazaar

We spent only one night in Kashan and the next day Mohammad took us to the Underground City of Nushabad. It was not opened yet so we went to a nearby 800 years old fort where you can climb to its walls and towers.

We entered the underground city without a guide, so Mohammad told us about the giant well we could step in, and then we could get lost in the tunnels and chambers on our own. But actually, there are not so many options to get lost since only a small part is open to the public. After a while, other tourists with a guide appeared, so we followed them and learned how this city worked and why. It served to the inhabitants to hide in the time of being attacked, and because of many shelters, they could easily ambush and kill the intruders. It was possible to live underground for many days.

The last stop was the Agha Bozorg mosque, which serves as a theological school with a library.

After that, we said goodbye with Mohammad and left to the local bazaar, where we were advised to climb on its roof. After a while of crawling, we arrived at a fountain and asked the nearby merchants if they would give us directions to the roof. They asked about 10,000 tomans for that, but we managed to haggle it down to 4,000. But if you can find your way up there, you probably do not have to pay to anyone. The view and the mud roof absolutely worth it. You can climb wherever you want, like to the very top of the dome under which the fountain is located. Besides, there are steps, so why not. After a while at the top of the dome, a man, probably a guide because he was with tourists, called on Kačka to go down and something about the police. I guess he was just envious because he was with his tourists just on the boring roof of some house.

Our visit to Kashan came to an end and we were waiting for a bus back to Tehran, where we arranged couchsurfing near the Azadi Tower this time.

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