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My Silk Road The Piglet stumbles across the continent

Trip: Turkmenistan and Iran

There are [19] stories from my trip: Turkmenistan and Iran

63 - Tehran Déjà vu

IRAN | Monday, 26 Nov 2012 | Views [379]

I first visited Tehran in 2009 just before the Green Revolution.  I am staying again next to Laleh Park which is in a pleasant and serene part of town, a short walk from Tehran University, the site of both pro-Khomeini demonstrations ... Read more >

62 - Casual meals in Iran - a chapter on "dizi" and other stews

IRAN | Saturday, 24 Nov 2012 | Views [596]

Stews feature heavily in Iranian daily cuisine.  I’ve found that they can be relatively light and almost watery, or heavy with lots of meat and potatoes.  The light stews seem to be generically called “khoresht”... Read more >

61 - Imperial legacy at Kermanshah

IRAN | Friday, 23 Nov 2012 | Views [551]

Kermanshah is the largest Iranian city that is closest to the Iraq border and about two and a half hours west of Hamedan.   On the way to Kermanshah are two important “Rosetta Stone” sites which permitted modern archaelogists ... Read more >

60 - An ancient capital in Hamedan

IRAN | Saturday, 17 Nov 2012 | Views [879]

Hamedan does not boast of the dazzling architecture and design of the other cities that I’ve visited, but it does have the archaeological site of Hagmateneh which is said to date back to at least 8thC BC, pre-Alexander the Great –... Read more >

59 - Casual meals in Iran - kebab chapter

IRAN | Friday, 16 Nov 2012 | Views [884]

Casual meals in Iran have so far consisted of various types of kebabs with rice (“chelo kebab”): Soltani kebab, Bakhtieri kebab, “Caucasian” kebab etc.  All this merely denotes various versions of lamb and chicken kebabs.... Read more >

58 - The nouveau riche in Kashan

IRAN | Friday, 16 Nov 2012 | Views [656]

Even in the 19thC, the rich in Kashan were building fancy temples to their wealth.  There are four well-preserved 19thC traditional houses in Kashan that are worth visiting.  Two of them were built by rich traders and the other two were governors’... Read more >

57 - The royal paradise in Kashan

IRAN | Friday, 16 Nov 2012 | Views [509]

Driving further south, I reach Kashan, well known for its roses and rosewater.  But now is not the season, alas, though dried roses and rosewater can still be bought everywhere.   Persians enjoy putting dried roses in their tea or stirring ... Read more >

56 - Martyrs, mausoleums and mourning

IRAN | Friday, 16 Nov 2012 | Views [413]

The country seems to be obsessed with death and martyrdom.  It may seem laughingly improbable, but one cannot drive for more than an hour in Iran, I think, without passing by a mausoleum; many of these are modest monuments, now on an inconspicuous ... Read more >

55 - Southwards towards Qom - "the King is in between books!"

IRAN | Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012 | Views [459]

Driving southwards from Tehran, one passes the mausoleum of the Ayatollah Khomeini at the outskirts of the capital.   There are hundreds if not thousands of parking spaces surrounding the mausoleum along with colourful covered park tables and ... Read more >

54 - My favorite Iranian dessert

IRAN | Monday, 12 Nov 2012 | Views [823]

My favorite Iranian dessert - indeed it could be my favorite "cookie" for all times - is "sohan".  It is a buttery honey-coloured crisp with a generous sprinkling of chopped pistachios on top, its sweetness somehow balanced by the richness of the ... Read more >

53 - Unexpected contrasts and reflections

IRAN | Monday, 12 Nov 2012 | Views [401]

Mashhad is a city of unexpected contrasts.  The entrance to my hotel (Pardis Hotel – Pardis as in “paradise”) is tucked away in a deadend alley behind some gold and watch shops, and its lobby is dimly lit and deserted.  ... Read more >

52 - The holiest place in Iran (Part 2)

IRAN | Sunday, 11 Nov 2012 | Views [556]

Apart from the Imam Reza mausoleum itself, the most beautiful part of the Holy Shrine complex at Mashhad is said to be the Goharshad Mosque which has a distinctive turquoise dome with yellow Kufic calligraphy at its base. Viewed from afar, the sight ... Read more >

51 - The holiest place in Iran (Part 1)

IRAN | Saturday, 10 Nov 2012 | Views [425]

The Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad is the holiest place in the world for Shi’ite Muslims and the second holiest place for Muslims generally (Mecca of course being the holiest).   Non-Muslims are not permitted to visit Mecca but parts ... Read more >

50 - Random food notes from Mashhad

IRAN | Friday, 9 Nov 2012 | Views [495]

Saffron, a key souvenir from Mashhad, costs just under US$2 per gram here.  And a gram goes a long way in cooking, probably at least 12-15 servings.  For the quality, it is very inexpensive.  But the yummy discovery is saffron ... Read more >

49 - Bad hair days are a-comin

IRAN | Friday, 9 Nov 2012 | Views [377]

Left Turkmenistan and crossed into Iran by road via Sarakhs, which is about 3 hours away from Mary.  The border office is a small tin-roofed hut crowded with travelers, most of whom seemed to be women from Turkmenistan who tried to stop ... Read more >

48 - The ancient civilisation of Merv

TURKMENISTAN | Thursday, 8 Nov 2012 | Views [505]

The visit to Merv really began with the National Museum tour at Ashgabat where many of the artifacts found at Merv are kept.  The ruins themselves are about 30 mins drive away from Mary.    They were discovered in the 1970s when a ... Read more >

47 - From Ashgabat to Merv (from new to old) or so I thought...

TURKMENISTAN | Thursday, 8 Nov 2012 | Views [759]

From Ashgabat, there is a 6 hour odd drive to Mary, the nearest city to the ancient ruins of Merv, my next destination.  Merv is my main reason for visiting Turkmenistan.   Merv was an important crossroads between China and the West on ... Read more >

46 - Ashgabat - Ken and Barbie and Big Brother

TURKMENISTAN | Monday, 5 Nov 2012 | Views [907]

Landed in Ashgabat past midnight last night after 20 hours of travel, with stopovers in Beijing and Urumqi (and had to take out my luggage and re-check in at each leg... though that meant some certainty that my luggage would reach the next destination, ... Read more >

45 - Off to the "Stans"

HONG KONG | Saturday, 3 Nov 2012 | Views [491]

Continuing along the Silk Road again after a HK work/rest hiatus.  Next destination Turkmenistan, the hermit state.  This is the country where the past President (now the President for Life) apparently renamed the months of the year after ... Read more >