Iran Trip 2009 – video

After nearly a year since visiting Iran I have finally cut together a video.
If you get a chance check it out and then book a ticket to Iran!

Iran Trip 2009 from Adam Teale on Vimeo.

In February 2009 I was fortunate to spend 3 weeks traveling in Iran (a.k.a Persia).

In those 3 weeks I got to explore Rasht, Tehran, Shiraz, Persepolis, Maybod, Yazd and along the way I met by some of the most friendly & welcoming people I have ever met.

Iran thank you very much for this incredible adventure!

Music: Iranian musician by the name of Homay (Saied Jafar-zadeh) –

Iran: Exit

I am jumping the gun a little here with my posts on Iran but I really wanted to get these photos up.

Here are some portraits of the guys that I shared the cabin with on the Train from Tabriz (Iran) to Van (Turkey). These guys were very friendly but unfortunately none of us could speak each others languages. I wish i had made more of an effort to learn some Farsi!

As far as I could tell a few of these guys had bought a lot of cigarettes in Iran and were bringing them into Turkey to make some bucks πŸ™‚

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Iran: Tehran pt2, Rasht & Tabriz

With Yolly off to Turkey and Tobi making his way to India (either “hitchhiking” a container ship from Bandar Abbas or flying from Dubai) it was time for me to start to make my way towards Turkey.

I took the overnight bus from Shiraz to Tehran, checked back into the Mashad Hotel on Amir Kabir street and spent the day checking out the Golestan Palace and the Grand Bazaar.

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The museums in the palace are definitely worth a look – you can either pay per museum (about 4000 rials each) or get a ticket to see them all. I have never seen such a reflective bunch of rooms – so many mirrors! Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take any photos in the main palace part (sorry forgot the name!), but did get some in the other museums.

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The grand bazaar is indeed grand, couldn’t say if it was on the scale of JJ market in Bangkok, but it could be. I met some guys who owned a carpet shop but wasn’t forced to buy one. I think I might actually have some basic knowledge of person carpets now after the amount I have seen πŸ™‚

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I only spent the night in Tehran and jumped a bus from the east terminal to Rasht. Why Rasht? To go see the Caspian Sea. I had intended to check out the town of Masouleh which I’d heard a lot of good things about but in the end ran out of enthusiasm to get there. I met 2 lads in my hotel who were keen to show me a bit around Rasht and took me to check out the Caspian Sea. We also stopped in at Bandar-e Anzali which would be a great place to spend some time in the summer.
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I was lucky enough to catch up with Tim who I met in Yazd – he’d been exploring a fair amount of the NW of Iran and also managed to get taken in by the police for taken some photos (he said they eventually let him go and it was just a formality!).

After Rasht I bussed it to my last stop in Iran – Tabriz.

Tabriz is cool.

I arrived in Tabriz at about 4:30am and most of the cheap hotels were shut or full so I splashed out and spent 4 times by 50,000 rials/night budget. Money not well spent.
Whilst checking some emails I bumped into Yann the Frenchman who had ridden his $300 mountain bike 18,000+ kms from Singapore to Iran and was continuing on back to France. What a journey!


I ended up meeting 3 great people by the names of Babak, Reza & Amir – Reza runs the cafe net and Babak & Amir are his mates. Pretty much spent my whole time in Tabriz hanging out with these chaps. They took me out the see a bunch of places, got up early to meet me for breakfast at the local breakfast place, and didn’t let me pay for anything! When they make it to Australia one day I said I’d get the bill.

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Iran: Shiraz


From Yazd Yolly, Tobi & myself made our way with bags of Cheetos to Shiraz – “known as the city of poets, flowers and wine”. Well I didn’t get to appreciate any of the poetry, not sure if I saw any flowers, no fine wine, but did manage to drink REAL BEER! Normally i wouldn’t blog about drinking beer, but hey, we were naughty and i think it’s worth mentioning.

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The next day we burned out to Persepolis, paying $30 for the taxi for 5 hours – probably way too much but Yolly was in a hurry to make the night bus to Tehran so didn’t mess around.
Persepolis was amazing, perhaps not as jaw-dropping as Ephesus (Selcuk, Turkey), but still great to see – set in a valley, the place that Xerxes hung out in and Alexander burned to the ground.

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Just down the road from Persepolis is Naqshi-Rustam – the tombs of Darius I, Darius II, Xerxes & Artaxerxes and some others i can’t remember.

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The next few days just hung out in Shiraz, ate hamburgers, and drank pretend beer.

Iran: Yazd

After a afternoon bus from Esfahan, about 5 hours, I made it to Yazd and to one of the more cool hostels I have stayed in – The Silk Road. If u ever come here make sure u give this place a look. Cheapo 40,000rial/night dorm beds to some apparently nice “proper” hotel rooms. The best part about the place is the friendly staff and a very chilled out courtyard open area, where u can sit around, drink tea & pretend beer, meet other travellers.

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Funny story, when I stayed at the Amir Kabir hotel in Esfahan the staff advised everyone to be careful of some snatch & grab people in town – they burn along on their motorcycles and rip ur bag off u. Well i didn’t see anything anywhere close to this. The funny part is that when i arrived at the Silk Road I met the girl who this security advice has risen from! Poor young Australian girl Yolly! Yolly was unfortunate enough to have her bag with passport, cash, camera, ipod etc.., nabbed from her!

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Yolly, Tobi & I were fortunate enough to meet Bez, an Iranian dude who’d been living out of Iran for the past 23 years in Hungary & Australia. This dude loves Australia. We met Bez in Dakhmeh, Yazd, whilst checking out the towers of Silence – great view from up there!
Bez & his cousins invited us to come to their place in Maybod the next day, to drink a little Iranian vodka and get a taste of uni life!

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We ended up making it to Maybod – driving way to fast through a heavy sand storm, took a little tour with Bez and his cousin Amir around Maybod and then spent the night at Amir’s place with his uni mates playing table tennis, playstation and talking about all things Iran. Interesting to get the well off uni student pov on things. And very cool to drink some Iranian vodka! How naughty! Apparently it is ok to drink, just only in ur home, and u have to smuggle it around in a water bottle from Tehran.

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What else did we do in Yazd? Well the plan was to do a ‘desert tour’, but most of the travellers said it wasnt really worth the 210,000 rials, and i figured I will hopefully get to see some real sandy desert when i get over to Egypt/Jordan eventually. Hmmm, what did we do?… Walked around the old city (getting invited in for tea and a view from the roof of one family), ate a camel burger, drank tea and waxed philosophical about life & religion – what else to do when there’s no real beer around.

Iran: Esfahan

“Hello hello, where are you from?”
The catchcall of this stint in Iran.

In the first day in Esfahan I think Tobi & I must have met 15 people and some of them we chatted with for hours. Within minutes it seems people are pretty keen to get onto talking about religion and the government. Most people seem to miss the freedoms of the Shah days and see Islam as a connection between them and their god and not something that should be used by a government.

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What about the sites? Well the Imam Square and mosque were great, a walk over the bridges (Khaju, Choobi, 33 Pol), a look over Esfahan from the Ateshkadeh-e Esfahan Fire Temple, some towers I can’t remember the name of and the bazaar.


Food – finally got to try a proper kebab served with rice, bought some noughat called “Gaz” which Esfahan is apparently famous for, and Beryooni – delicious!

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A Persian proverb says Esfahan is “Half of the world”.

Whilst i didn’t quite have that feeling when I was checked out Esfahan it is indeed a grand city.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Imam Square) is massive and beautiful to see, and is also cool because it was once used to play polo in (someone told me Polo was first played in Esfahan).

The Imam Mosque is full of mosaic work, 2 minarets, and some imperfections to show that nothing on the world is perfect – seems if they hadn’t added intentional imperfections then the building would have been perfect. hmmm…

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Iran: Tehran

I spent less 48 hours in Tehran so don’t have a huge amount to post. We arrived late saturday night / sunday morning and the streets we empty – very ghost town like. It did make sense though – if ur not out boozing it up and busting a groove in a club somewhere why else would u be out?

After a few shoddy hours sleep in the Hotel Mashad(50,000 rials/bed) i poked my head out to Amir Kabir street and saw the opposite of what i saw on arrival. A lot of traffic. Not to the level of Bangkok/Delhi but still pretty busy.

I befriended Joel & Tobi – 2 cool dudes who are making their way east. Joel, a frenchmen who quit his job in Quebec and is travelling until his cash runs out, and Tobi, a german who is making his way to Nepal to teach. Both are trying to get visas for Pakistan. Tobi says he wants to hitch hike a boat ride from Bandar Abbas to Mumbai!
Despite taking the metro to north Tehran and watching the folks get into their fitness activities around the park, I only spent time in between Ferdosi & Imam Khomeini square. I’d planned to check out the Bazaar (meant to be massive – biggest in the world?) but never made it. I blame the Tehranians! 10 steps down the street and there we are having a chat πŸ™‚


Probably the most interesting person I met in Tehran was Aziz Ahmad – a gentleman from Afghanistan who was on holiday from his town Herat. He spoke English very well and told me how Afghanistan used to be a very popular destination for people heading Nepal from Europe. He said it was so safe that travellers used to sleep on the street. He said up until the Russians entered Afghanistan he used to run a very successful handicrafts/furniture business that exported to a lot of countries. When all the trouble gained momentum the travelers were less and it was harder to export his products. So, after a year of not working, he somehow made his way into importing tyres and eventually Mercedes Benz spare parts. Also I think he said they only got electricity & running water 10 years ago.

I asked Aziz about the current situation in Afghanistan. He said something along the lines of the US are supplying weapons to the Taliban who kill Afghan people, whilst in the background the US mine for resources. For some reason I haven’t heard that side of the story on tv. Oh yeah, he said Osama Bin Laden is in Pakistan.

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I’ll most likely head back to Tehran on the way to Tabriz, and will try to make an effort to see a little more.

Now, the late night train to Esfahan!

blog from the Trans-Asya Expressi


5pm, 12th February, 2009

I made it. Well at least onto the Trans-Asya Expressi train that is. From here, Kayseri (Turkey), it’s a 49+ hour journey to Tehran. Today turned out to be pretty cool. I managed to wakeup as planned @ 6.30 this morning, the bus from Goreme was only 30 mins behind schedule. When I got to Kayseri I a shuttle bus from the otogar took me to the wrong side of town. 3 kms walk later I made it to the train station, got a ticket (82 Turkish lira or thereabouts), met a french dude, Joel, who is also going to Tehran. For the remainder of the wait I was fortunate enough to be befriended by a bunch of Iranian emmigrants who were saying goodbye to their parents – they said the current regime in Iran isn’t too fond of the folks who are of Baha’i faith).

Should be an interesting trip.

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4pm, 13th February, 2009

Last night I was lucky enough to meet Farbod, a funny guy from Tehran who just finished a trip with his wife to Istanbul, He tried to educate me on a little of Farsi and explain the difference between Shi’ah and Sunni Islam. He said that he likes to drink beer and that Iranian girls are far prettier than Turkish. πŸ™‚

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I woke up today and looked out the window to see snow that covered the ground to the horizon. Wow!

10 cups of tea later here we are in Tatvan. At some point here I think we and our train get onto a ferry that will take us across Lake Van to Van.

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My cabin mate, Ali, seems like a really nice guy. From what I could understand he is involved in IT and has something to do with networks between Turkey-Iran-Azherbaijan.

Watched 2 excellent movies – “Zack & Miri make a porno” & “the curious case of benjamin button” – if u haven’t seen them make sure you do!


3am, 14th February, 2009

We arrived in Van and got onto the Iranian train. A bit of a difference. The trains are dressed with some nice Iranian upholstery and the staff seem to speak more English than the guys working on the Turkish train.
Today was cool. Met so many lovely folks. Pretty much everyone has been very friendly – asking about where I’m from, am i married, what did i study, what do i think of Iran and Iranian people, why am i visiting Iran, etc… I am really hoping this will carry on into Iran. Will see!
From what i have heard/read this seems to be the case.

Beware! Forget about all the xenophobic, anti-Iranian propaganda dominating the media. What they say about terrorism and your life being in danger in Iran is absolute hogwash (I have no idea what that word means, but I like the sound of it: hogwash…). If anything, all that Iranians can be accused of is excessive hospitality. So, when traveling to Iran, beware of innocent looking situations which could turn into the experience of your life. Kind of like walking into The Twilight Zone.


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Passport control – entering Iran was a far quicker than exiting Turkey. Smooth.

6.30pm, 14th February, 2009
Apparently 5-10mins from Tehran!
This has been an excellent adventure – recommend it to everyone!
Amazing countryside to see!

How I discovered this train? The man in seat 61 –


Now to see what Tehran has got in store…

Iran Approaching


If all things go to plan I’ll be catching the first thing smoking (the Trans Asya Expressi train) from Kayseri (Turkey) to Tehran (Iran) – a 2 to 3 day journey over what should be some very interesting countryside.

I am currently in Goreme taking it easy and cheaply after covering a fair bit of ground the past few weeks. Not much happening here except for the occasional stroll to the local shop and some decent time playing around with my new camera and photoshop. So what’s the plan?

Well on Thursday (today = Monday) I will head to Kayseri early morning and hopefully be able to get at ticket on the Trans Asya Expressi train which begins its journey in Istanbul. The folks up at one of the tour places said it should be easy to get a ticket seeing as it is low season – fingers crossed. I have thought a lot about what route I will take and this is where I am at:


If it goes smoothly and I have surplus time I might try fit a detour to Mashad out in the east to have a bit of a look.

The Lonely Planet Middle East book that Lisa got me (thankyou Smalls!) has come in very handy to get some ideas on what to see. Also a lot of time abusing google!
Hopefully my budget of €30 is well over what i need and sees me through the max 30 days I have!

My expectations of the weather are low (has been pretty shite in my travels over this part of the world so far!) but hopefully the excursion to the Persian Gulf will heat things up πŸ™‚

Looking forward to meeting the Iranian folks, trying some new food and in general just some interesting adventures!

I hope i make that train!

Inspiration for today: Check out this amazing adventure 2 cool folks did – 15000kms! – Bremen to Seremban –