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Hotelnet: Mon 22:15

Esfahan, IR.

Tried to follow the LP "Half the World" walking tour. Thanks to either the LP's map or my inability to follow it and the instructions I suspect mine was the equivalent of 1.5 worlds. It's not exactly clear why this should represent half the world either. Anyway, I've seen quite a lot of Esfahan. And I've bought a belt. My usual hard bargaining skills were absent in the face of trying to argue with one hand holding my trousers up.

As with anything you can get a bit mosque'd or bazaar'd out. It would have been nice to have been chay'd out but for the life of me I couldn't follow the simplest instructions. Either the highly recommended chay house was closed today or closed for good. There certaily wasn't a sign to be seen.

In the Iman mosque I was cornered by an English speaking cleric who enquired after my trip etc. then the all important question, what religion are you? Oh dear. None, I replied hoping he might shove off leaving this infidel in peace to take more photos of the rather same-y blue, green and gold mosaic work but no. But who is the creator? There isn't one. But who is the cause of all these things? No-one? Random chance? But but but...and so it went on. He was very charming about it all really, I think, only wanting to try to understand other people's points of view and he was very careful to note that Muslims (he twice said "Muslims and Sunnis" as though they were a different breed) had no cause to try to convert anyone, "You are free" ("Thank God!" I thought in reply -- ooh the irony).

I find it odd that whilst people are willing to accept that other people might believe in a different god (or gods but we didn't broach that subject -- my gods don't believe in your gods, etc.) they find it nary impossible to accept that some people believe in no god. But who is the creator? No-one! Aargh! You know about the Big Bang? Yes. Who is the creator? Aargh! You've spent so much time thinking about (your) god you haven't allowed yourself to think without god.

Anyway, I managed to escape in the end and shuffled round to the Ali Qapu Palace overlooking the Imam Square before getting the "Get Out!" treatment at a little after 4pm. I can't complain, though, it seems today was International Museums Day or something and I got into all I could for nowt.

Imam Square is quite pleasant though you still can't get away from the bloomin' mopeds which are everywhere that people go only with a belief that they have more rights. Their tinny growls never give a moments peace (road, pavement, bazaar). At least the rumble from the other traffic is reduced -- though partly replaced by poor horses forced at a fast trot around the square for excited (IR) tourists.

On the way out of the square I met a Londoner looking for the river so we trotted off together his cockney accent colouring the air with the odd Facking Kant -- some relation of Immanuel, no doubt. He did quite righly observe that the ladies of Iran are well blessed with a high quality gene pool.

I researched a couple of eateries from the LP, the first of which, when I found it, no longer did food and the second was in the courtyard of, I should think, the 5* hotel. I considered one of the fast food joints on the way back (largely hamburgers and pizza) but in the end ate in the surprisingly busy hotel restaurant. Iranians don't seem to embrace food or at least eating out in quite the same way. Kababs and, er, kababs are the order of the day.

I wonder if my sudden increase in carbonated sugary drinks is affecting my mood?

Esfahanis have a speciality food dish, Beryani. So special it appears, I've only seen two places that have said "beryani". I'm assuming it's the Engrish for Biryani but the one is a 2km walk and I can't remember where I saw the other today.

It could be kabab again tomorrow.

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