The voice of Iran

Tus Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Ali (Iran)

Saturday morning began with breakfast at Vali's and then we were left with the dilemma of where to go for the day. Originally we had planned to visit Radkan Tower, but something just didn't feel right about the trip, so instead we opted to go to Tus. To get there we needed to catch a bus into the town centre, change to another bus to the outskirts of town and then change onto a final bus that went to Tus. This may sound simple enough, but when you don't speak the language and can't read the alphabet or numbers, it really isn't so straightforward!

Changing off the second bus i got talking with a man called Ali, who was from Kashan and visiting Mashhad with his family.

He was a university student and his English was reasonably good, so he made it his mission to take us under his wing, as he was also heading to Tus. The last bus journey took around an hour and this gave us plenty of time to discuss foreigners opinions of Iran and the Iranians outlook on the West. Ali wasn't religious, disliked the government and had no gripes with the West, which would be the recurring opinion of many of the Iranians that we met, and this came as somewhat of a surprise to me. There also seems to be plenty of people who would love to see a second revolution and democracy restored, but definitely without the interference of America! What also interested me was to hear that plenty of Iranians are turning their back on Islam, as they believe that the government is using religion as a tool for controlling people and a weapon in politics.

Tus is synonymous with Iranians for one reason � Ferdosi. A great Persian poet who lived between 940AD and 1020AD, he spent 30 years writing his epic poem 'Shahnamah' (Book of Kings), only for it to be rejected by the Turkish King, gutted! Although he died miserable and penniless, he would surely get some solace from the fact that he is now much loved and revered as the saviour of the Persian language and moulder of the Iranian national psyche.

The cenotaph that tops Ferdosi's tomb is a rather impressive structure that is set amidst a pretty garden. The tomb itself is surrounded by his poems and there are carvings of the characters who feature in his writings. Just behind the tomb is the Razan Gate, which had been part of Tus' City walls, until Tamerlane (Timur) sacked the place on one of his rampages in 1389.

After some time looking around the Mausoleum, we were ecstatic to see that a small restaurant was open and serving ice creams, snacks and cold drinks. Unsure of what we were ordering, we pointed at what someone else chose and sat down to tuck in. I was a little surprised at the result, as our banana split style desert came with cold thin glass noodles, similar to what they eat in Korea. In was an odd combination, but one that was surprisingly tasty.

Leaving the grounds we said goodbye to Ali and his family and walked down the road to the Boq'e-ye Hordokieh, which is a 14th Century Mausoleum. It only took 10 minutes to get there, but on the way we passed 2 camels and a section of the Arg (castle), which was been restored. This Mausoleum was much more in the style of the buildings that we had seen in Uzbekistan, but was nevertheless interesting to see.

We caught the bus back to Mashhad and walked around the City for several hours, which gave us the opportunity to do some shopping. I purchased some trainers and Julia got a head covering and then we went and bought some sweets and biscuits. In the confectionery shop we got our first taste of 'taroof', as the store keeper was refusing to take our money. Its a strange system and you must insist three times that he accepts it, before they pretend to reluctantly let you pay them. Bizarre.

Back at Vali's we were joined by an array of nationalities for Dinner, including a Slovene, Japanese, and five Poles. The food was once again very delicious and included a healthy serving of Osh and salad. Once we had finished Dinner and packed our bags, Vali walked us to the bus stop and put us on the right bus to the train station.
Amusingly halfway through the journey, the bus driver stopped at a roundabout, jumped out to buy some food, then hopped back on and continued to drive, you just have to love it!

The train to Tehran was very comfortable as we shared a 6 berth Kupe cabin for the 12 hour journey. Incredibly this only cost us 35,000 Rial ($3.50) each, and included free water and bedding. The three Iranian men in our cabin were all very nice and we managed to make some small talk with them before going to sleep.

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photo by: Deats