impressions in black and white
on the go
photos. unedited. rough. from the moment.
The Grand Bazaar of Tehran is one of the economic hubs of Iran and literally a maze. On top of that, not only the "core" of the bazaar ist very interesting also the surroundings. So we decided to take a guide this time.
We started by walking through the Lalehzar-area which was a hotspot for art and culture in the past. Unfortunately today these streets are dominated by workshops where picturesque would not be an accurate description. Only here and there we find reminders of the past, for instance Tehran Theatre. The good new is, that some of these buildings are in the process of renovation.
Then we had excellent breakfast in a greasy spoon cafe in Lalehzar before we dive into the actual bazaar.
Don't forget: click on photos to enlarge and frame them nicely.
The bazaar changed a lot over the last 15 years. Unfortunately not always to its benefit. A lot a workshop, e.g. producing copper ware are gone and Chinese wares of questionable quality are sold in many places. Also a lot of historic substance is damaged. When you know where to look on can still finds gems here and there.
Shahr-e Sukhteh is an archeological site with first settlements reaching about 3.000 years back. Why this city is called burned city seems to be unclear.
The next former settlement is Khajeh mountain which reaches about 2.200 years back. Everything was flooded recently and the archeological site actually closed. We are lucky that one of the main experts of the site is available and offers us a private tour.
For lunch we make a stop at Ghal‘e No (New Fort). This old settlement is traditionally built from clay and is still maintained and inhabited.
This is the end of our trip to Sistan and Baluchestan. The next day we flew back from Zahedan to Tehran and had some polite, yet extensive checks at the airport security. Every lens had to be inspected.
Anyways. Thanks for your interest and patience. One more posting will follow with some new explorations of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran and its surroundings.
The last "basecamp" of our trip is Zahedan, which is also the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan. What is the first thing to visit in a new city?
Except for some rather unpleasant hygienic issues (things swimming in places where they are not supposed to swim in a cleaned room, lets put it like that), the stay in the hotel in Iranshahr was short and unspectacular.
Interesting is the continuous shift in the climate though. The brooding heat from Hormoz is gone, we are more in a European Spring climate now. Other provinces of Iran where heavily hit by floods and also here we find remains of heavy rain. Luckily, we just arrive at a time, when most streets can be passed again.
It is quite common that drivers decorate their lorry and put signs with names on top of the cabin. Often names of prophets. This particular specimen seems to have been a fan of music. Adnan is, as far as I know, an Arabic singer, the portrait on the door of the lorry is Googoosh, a famous Iranian singer.
On the way we very invited at a family where the women operate a workshop with beautiful handicraft. Some of their products are sold in other cities in the region. After visiting the workshop we had very good lunch.
In this area it is common that you are invited as a guest into the house, talk and socialise. When the food is served you are left alone for eating. As far as I understand this custom, the idea is to not set the guest under pressure (which is pretty much the opposite of what is to be expected in other regions in Iran where you usually are stuffed like a goose).
One of the daughters was very excited that Farsi people, so in principle Iranians from another province are guests in her home. So she invited all her neighbour friends. I think I was too exotic to be mentioned.
We are packing again and moving to our next hotel in Iranshahr. On that route we pass by several smaller villages. Our route from now on is always close to the border of Pakistan.
In this area there is a strong presence of heavily armed police. Smuggling seems to be a major enterprise in this region and apparently goes both directions: Gas is heavily subsidised in Iran, thus extremely cheap. So it makes economic sense to smuggle gas from Iran to Pakistan. The other way round, from Afghanistan and Pakistan drugs are smuggled into Iran.
From what we hear, unfortunately a significant number of the local population is addicted to opiates themselves.
I didn't feel very comfortable to make a lot of pictures on this gas station among a lot of grim looking men. However, I observed something I have not seen before like that.
Looking at this photo, the obvious but irrelevant question is: why on earth is there a collapsed metal rig between petrol pumps and station building. More importantly and ghastly was observing the boys. I have not seen that before. The boy on the left side of the photo holds a plastic bottle in his hands.
In fact, a number of boys had bottles cut in half and were cajoling the adults and begging for gas. At least they tried to collect the last drops that fall out of the pump nozzle after fuelling the cars. They collected drops and minor amounts of gas (spending their day in the fumes) to sell it later on the street.
Finally we visited a crocodile station. In this part of Iran there are sweet water crocodiles. But as the river runs dry the crocodiles can't survive in their natural habitat and a crocodile station tries to protect this species. Again, saddening to see that the large cages are littered by soda bottles and stuff like that, visitors throw in to get the attraction of the crocodiles.
Heading towards the most southern point of Iran. Again a long road trip, passing by the so called Pink Wetlands. Wetlands I have seen. Pink? Not so much.
And again a reminder: click on photos to show them enlarged and prettily framed.
Finally we reach the sea. Amazing geological structures – weird mountains, in other words, while turtles breed on the beach.
Stop for lunch at a private home again. We always felt very welcomed.
Children usually were interested, but kept a distance. Here – not so much. They were, let's say, rather persistent. Hanging on the driving car for one.
We went for dolphin watching with small boats again. Dolphins we did not see. Unfortunately though trash again on the beach and fish that was caught but not used.
On the way back again. And this was maybe the most amazing part. Intense landscape. Speaking of which. B/W comes to a limit at that point. So just take it as a promise, and return, as soon as the color photos are embedded into the regular section of this site.
Driving up a cliff where the rocks break off like butter cut with a knife. And down, where the butter ends, a small harbour. And not to forget, tea in the end made by experts.
Eventually a last stop to embrace the landscape – and tea.
I certainly listen to my audience. (Yes, this would be you, Robert.) More ships and wrecks are demanded – here they come. Back from the bazaar, I jump out of our car and walk the last kilometre to the hotel along the small harbour.
Visit to a mud volcano that decides to annoy me by exploding mud at the moments I am not shooting. My CL is very patiently bursting shots until I get a half decent one. Unfortunately not the one, where the Iranian tourist was covered in mud...
Anyways. Then further to a village, where we go by boat to a sand dune. Very impressive. Very hot too. I try to scale the dune with bare feet. Turns out: not such a great idea. Water cooling required soon. And shoes.
Back in the village. We are invited at a local family for a nice lunch. After lunch the ladies are invited to sit with the women of the house – and I have to stay with the dudes. Boring.