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Civilization Please


View Sydney to London 1964 on Ozac's travel map.

Monday 30-11-64

Got up to an unexpectedly shitty day. I thought I had a really comfortable bus ride assured, but after delays at Security and Police I hopped on the bus to find twice as many people aboard as there had been the night before. I managed to get a seat, but the conductor tried to throw me out. “Bugger you” was what I thought and said, and held my ground. Apparently the seat is usually reserved for the local postman who delivers mail to the outlying settlements. I stayed where I was, but after about a third of the journey, in a large town, he tricked me into giving the seat up, and both Ade and I then had to squeeze into the 1½ sized one up front. I conceded round two to the conductor, and only had a semi-comfortable ride the rest of the distance to Mashad. On the way there we passed through many areas where snow had fallen the day before. The pure white snow remaining in the shaded areas contrasted with the deep, rich browns of the earth and the mud buildings. Combined with the many leafless trees, mainly poplars, dotted about in an orderly fashion, this created a refreshingly beautiful landscape. Not far away were mountains, covered in snow. However, this beauty could not match the majesty of the Himalayas we had seen. Mashad was a fair enough city to arrive in, certainly after Afghanistan. There was still quite a lot of snow left there too. The huge mosque in the centre of this holy city of Shia Islam, containing the shrine of the Imam Reza, was impressive in scale, though I felt somewhat cool to it architecturally. In fact, I really could not have cared less about it. Isfahan is the place for Moslem Architecture. I just wanted to get to some proper rest and comfort in Tehran. We checked into a local hotel and decided to leave by the afternoon train the following day.

Tuesday 1-12-64

Changed some money in the morning. Caught the afternoon train out. We had been told that the trains in Iran were good, but they were better than expected. Clean, modern, not crowded, separate heated compartments with padded head rests, mirrors and small fold down tables, big picture window, dining car, all in III Class. Really good. We became fairly friendly with the inspector, and he gave us an empty III Class for the night, so we got some sleep, though the seats are really not wide enough for it and I was quite uncomfortable. We had a fair but expensive meal earlier in the dining car, but we had pickles with it and their after effects have turned me off anything pickled for life. They seem to pickle all their vegetables here. Dreadful stuff. Early in the evening we were passing through some areas where heavy snow had been falling, though there was still quite a lot of earth showing through. Beautiful sunset on the bare snowy landscape.

Wednesday 2-12-64

Desert scene outside this morning was superb at sunrise. The Great Salt Desert is of a different type from that which we have crossed before. It looks strangely unnatural. It withers away to the distance in a haze, and the nearer areas are parched and unmoving. What a hell of a place to cross by camel I thought. Fortunately we were in a train. Mt. Damovand loomed up (largest in Iran, 19000 ft) as we sat over tea. It is huge, majestic, pyramid shaped, and looks every bit like the highest in the land. Desert reminds me of the sea. Exact opposites, but very similar in the feelings they evoke. Arrived in Tehran at 9.45 am and were met by Ade’s Iranian pen friend Farshid, a student. He whisked us away through a large, modern, clean, spacious city, up beautiful poplar and maple lined avenues to his home, a pleasant, and large, comfortable house. Wowee!

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Posted by Ozac 04:37 Archived in Iran Tagged mashad

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