Kashan and Abyaneh: elegant houses
There are no buses from Yaxd to Kashan. Kashan, apparently, is too small. There are, however, many buses that go past Kashan to other places, Tehran, Qazvin, Rasht, etc. Then, because these buses generally arrive at their destination in the morning, they leave Yazd in the afternoon or evening, meaning I'd arrive in Kashan in the middle of the night. Not good.
Searching and not finding, some luck came my way in the shape of the hotel manager, who knew some obscure buss company that would be able to get me to Kashan at around 7:30pm. Still a bit late for my taste, but better than 4am.
At 7pm, after having to remind the bus attendant I really wanted to get off in Kashan, I was practically dropped off on the highway, close to Kashan. However, automagically, a shared taxi was waiting to take me downtown.
As, in buses, you're not allowed to sit next to someone of the other sex, who's not your spouse, it happens that when people get on the bus somewhere along the way, some reseating, orchestrated by the bus attendant, needs to be done. Husbands taken away from their wives, to allow an extra woman on the bus, for example.
On the ride from Yazd to Kashan, I was sitting next to the only empty seat. Somewhere along the way, a woman wanted to get on: "I have no seats for women". She had to wait for the next bus to come along.
But imagine my horror when an older woman, a short time later, came up to me and asked if she could sit next to me. Apparently, something was afoot in the back of the bus and she wanted to escape. But what could I do. Be unfriendly and say No. Of course not. So there I was.
Kashan has, can it be any different, mosques and an extensive bazaar. One mosque, the Agha Bozorg, with an interesting sunken courtyard, is actually quite nice. But the piece de resistance of Kashan are the traditional houses, in particular the Khan-e-Borujerdi, the Khan-e-Tabatabei and the Khan-e-Abbasin, although the tourist authorities apparently claim there are over 600 of those houses in Kashan.
The houses are more like palaces tucked away inside the old town of the city. With loads of rooms, the Tabatabei has 40, multiple levels and extremely rich decorations, it's like walking around in an extremely gilded cage, or the set of one of the Prince of Persia levels.
Shortly after I came out of bed and went for a shower, a tourist guide immediately jumped at the opportunity and offered me a half-day trip to Abyaneh, a stacked mud brick village, not unlike Masuleh, close to the Caspian Sea. The guy claimed to be a tour guide as well as a driver and showed me a lovely laminated card to prove it, but in the end it was mostly I who had to lead the tour guide from place to place in the small village.
Practically every shop in Kashan has a photo of some mullah who died recently. In some pictures, he looks like a wise ancient sage. In some others, he looks like a senile retard.
On Iranian cooking
The snack bar is king. Pizza, kebabs and burgers are the staples of Iranian cuisine, judging from what's offered on the street. Really, it's a challenge to get anything but pizza, kebab or a burger. True, often you can choose from multiple pizza's, over ten kebabs and a decent array of burgers, but none really rocks my boat. You'd be excused to think Iranians struggle in the kitchen.
Point is, they don't. At least, not at home. Historically, Iranian cooking is heavily centred around using a myriad of vegetables and only in the last few decades has the extensive use of meat emerged. Clearly, a resounding success, but something I can't get my head around. Wouldn't you get extremely bored, having access to so little variety?
There are only very few, what Europeans would call, real restaurants, with menus, waiters, made tables, etc. Most places use sterile decoration with energy saving light bulbs, just to make it that bit less attractive. Most are advertised with neon lights, often with their names or products advertised in neon, but sometimes also just plain, straight but coloured, neon lights tied to trees outside. According to my niece, green means they serve the dish 'kalehpahche' (pieces of animals' heads and feet boiled to perfection).
The joy of digital and a remark on cencorship
I shoot digital. Convenient, it allows me to quickly upload my pictures, so that the whole world can see them, even though it generally doesn't. Except for the occasional one of tits and ass, of course.
My three month old camera, over 5000 pictures shot, is now showing the first signs of wear and tear, but what's worse, in several cities around Iran, Flickr, the service I use to upload my photo's, is blocked.
On an unrelated note, I also somehow lost 150 pictures I made in Bam.
It's no news, the internet, in Iran, is censored. For one thing, sex in all shapes and sizes is a big no-no. This also means that websites like the one of the University of EsSEX also can be blocked. Apparently, it's up to the individual ISPs to decide how to run their firewall, so although in Tabriz and Yazd, Flickr was available, in the other cities I visited on this trip, so far, Tehran, Kerman and Kashan, it wasn't.
But, of course, more is censored. Parts of the BBC News website are not available, as are certain news websites. I suppose that as soon as it can get delicate, it's blocked.