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Tehran and the mullah factory

Written on: Sunday May 4th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

On the way to Tehran we stopped briefly in Qom, aka "the mullah factory" where all the holy folk train.  Being a Friday (the holy day) it was jam packed full of muslims, tents in the carpark and all sorts.  Feeling a whole lot conspicuous we didn't take any photos!  There are a few police checkpoints on the highways, mostly to check trucks who may be carrying opium from Afghanistan.  The most popular way to get it across the vast desert from Afganistan is to get the camels hooked on it, load them up and send them off with the ones who already know the way, and the traffikers meet them at the other end.  90% of Afghanistan's opium ends up in Europe, most of it via Iran.
We arrived in Tehran via a crazy mini van driver safe and sound.  Tehran is a c?ty of 12 m?ll?on and many more cars.  Lucky we are seasoned road crossers now - we laugh ?n the face of a 6 lane road cross?ng!
Checked out the national jewel museum, hous?ng all the gems and gold from the decadent early years before the Revolut?on, and got lost ?n the huge bazaar.  Parched for a little cup of black tea in the bazaar, we found a cafe and bounded upstairs and took a seat.  That's when the aroma of boiled fat hit us, and we looked over the balcony to see lots of sheeps heads bobbing in a big pot of water and a waiter coming our way with 4 sets of cutlery and a big plate of onions and mint.  The decision between being polite or not eating sheeps head was not difficult for me and we high-tailed it out of there! Now definitely lost in the bazaar, lucky us a helpful passer by offered to put us back on the r?ght path (v?a h?s carpet shop of course!). 
2 weeks of constantly readjust?ng and worry?ng about 'bad h?jab' ?s really gett?ng on us girls nerves, and speaking for the group  I can safely say that the effects of no alcohol ?s tak?ng ?ts toll (except on Ann, 4 months pregnant and if I may say so, a little smug we are all having a sober holiday!).  So we jumped at the chance to go to the Armenian Club - a members restaurant beh?nd a b?g red gate where where you don't have to  wear a head scarf - no musl?ms allowed!  We had schn?tzel, and waved our ha?r about.  St?ll no booze but you can't have ?t all I suppose.
We sa?d goodbye to Ann and Paul who return to Manchester and we wonder how we are go?ng to cope organ?s?ng our travels now we are well used to them do?ng ?t for us!