Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kadina in the morning

We took the MotorFalke to Kadina to fly some of the local cadets. Pilots were Andrew, Peter and myself. Flying up on the Saturday was a nav exercise for one of the Adelaide cadets and for Peter on the way home. We flew nearly all day Sunday with a huge cross wind. It only ever blows a cross wind at Kadina. Apparently some days previously a Tobago had veered off the runway and gone through a gable marker due to the cross wind. The marks were still on the runway. Anyway up at first light to DI the Falke. That's Andrew checking out the cockpit. It was freezing cold and never got warm all day!
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Monday, June 11, 2007

More Isfahan

Uh oh, tourists...

Naqsh-e Jahan Square, with the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque behind us.

In the middle, the Shah (or Imam) Mosque
and at the bottom an inside view of the Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque

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The Bazaar in Isfahan.
Colourful stuff that is for sale. This place sold coloured clothbut there were others that specialize in black cloth. Any sort of cloth you could ever wish for. But black.

The watermelon man stuck slices of fruit into Uschi's and my mouth and wouldn't let us get past.
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Sunday, June 10, 2007


Shafts of light coming in through the roof opening for smoke. The walls and roof are covered with soot from the fires lit in open hearths. This caravanserai consists of halls around a courtyard. The courtyard has niches for sleeping in the better weather. The one entranceway was via a steel gateway. Near the gateway stairs went up to the rooves of the halls where there were battlements. There were turrets on all four corners of the caravanserai and rifle loopholes along the battlements. When we visited the caravanserai was being used as a farm building. Some of the halls had been used for animal lodgings (by the smell) and in others were stored old tyres and other farm rubbish. When we were running about like mad tourists it was 49 degrees C. The hottest we experienced in Iran.

Turret viewed from a rifle loophole

The battlements,. The sleeping niches around the courtyard can be seen. The domed rooves are the halls around the courtyard.
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Saturday, June 09, 2007


A town mostly made of mud brick. The annual rainfall is about 100mm (4 inches) a year. So the mud brick buildings last for about 5 years till they need patching.

A wind catcher on a water reservoir.
A view of Yazd from the Takyeh Amir Chakhmagh, a medieval gate from the original walled city. The gate has 65 steps to the open area at the top between the minarets.Posted by Picasa


Chakchak is one of the most famous Zoroastrian mountain temples left in the world. we were there about a week before the annual pilgrimage. As usual there were Iranians there who offered us tea. We accepted the offer and had tea and watermelon with a Muslim family who were having a morning picnic at Chakchak.
I was a bit surprised about the popularity of the place as a picnic haunt. On our way down we saw a number of other families heading up the hill, all loaded up with watermelon, camp stoves, kids and other paraphenalia. Not so unusual for a picnic, but to get to Chakchak you have to climb about 600 feet from the car park up the (steep!) hill to get to the hostels and temple.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


One of (The?) oldest cypresses in the world. This tree is claimed to be over 4000 years old. We stopped and had a local lunch of watermelon, goats cheese, onion, cucumber, tomato and flat bread under the tree.
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Cyrus the Great's tomb

The tomb of Cyrus near Pasagardae
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Thursday, June 07, 2007

From Shiraz to Yazd

First thing this morning Parviz took us to the Eram Botanical Gardens after which we bid him farewell. Mansour is driving us to Pasagarde. Leaving Shiraz, Parviz told us it is a city of about 1.2 million people and very ancient. However, there aren’t many buildings which reflect the age of the city due to earthquakes. Also any buildings over 100 years of age are deemed to belong to the Iranian Heritage Organisation. Private residences are purchased by negotiation. The main building in the botanic garden was built during the reign of Nasser-al-din Khan (1848-1896) and is owned by the Shiraz Uni, who won’t give it to the government.


Heading generally north we are traveling along a busy three lane highway. Even out here, the lane markings seem to be a guide only and are conveniently ignored, just as they are in Tehran. There are plenty of big trucks and blue Saipa utes. The region is hilly, stony and dry. We have driven past a number of military installations. They are always easy to pick out as they seem to have a standard pattern of wire fences and watch towers on each corner. This is the same road we went to Persepolis on yesterday. I recognize a familiar painted wall.
Now taking the branch to Isfahan and the highway is reduced to two lanes. Even though it is a main highway we have just driven through a flock of goats, but Mansour didn’t slow down enough to get a good picture of them. Mansour is driving at 110 kph, just below the limit of 120 (I think).


After 13:00, we have been to see Pasagarde and Cyrus’ tomb. Back on a two lane highway traveling through hilly countryside. The highway sometimes merges to one lane with oncoming traffic as there appears to be extensive roadworks going on in places. Passing through a small town that had a number of stone masons to the north. There seemed like 8 to 10 buildings, all of similar design with a gantry crane outside, the cranes all seem to be of the same pattern.
Some buildings bad big (about 1.5m) cubes of white stone, others had piles of cut rock like floor tile slabs. There doesn’t seem to be many people in the buildings or nearby.
Driving along a green valley floor with craggy ridges either side. Uschi is taking pictures of the scenery, Mansour is doing about 140 kph.

13:35, the valley has widened out considerably and the single lane road has just passed through a small village with a very high proportion of mud brick construction. It still has lots of unfinished buildings, like every where else in Iran. Some of the buildings are rough fired bricks but this is the first, obvious mudbrick I have seen.
One of the town transformer stations had a couple of poles attached about 2 metres up with an old cloth awning. Probably for shade for people on the side of the road trying to sell a couple of boxes of apricots to passing traffic.
13:45, approaching Aberqu, past a familiar stone mason factory and now on a wide two lane highway with a raised centre island and apparently good street lighting. We stop at the ice house for photos. It is supposed to be hotter today than yesterday, but it isn’t noticeable. We continue to where Mansour has planned our lunch under a 4000 year old Cyprus tree for lunch. We had goat fetta, cucumber, tomato (Uschi did anyway) in flatbread and watermelon. Mansour had lunch with us.
Local lads on their motor bikes were there as were a couple of young army types with a 50mm gun mounted in the back of a jeep. Mansour gave the left overs to the army boys who were very happy and drove away. We later saw them loading their jeep onto a semi trailer flat bed..
We visited the Friday Mosque of Abarqu which had very little decoration and was made of mud and straw.


15:20 and we find ourselves on a flat, wide, hot plain with mountains just discernable on the dim horizon ahead. The plain seems to be a tan dirt with grey gravel and a few shrubby bushes, not closer than about 3 metres apart. As we approach the foothills the scrubby brush is getting denser and greener.16:00, now climbing up into the mountains. The air even feels cooler and we are about 40 km from Taft. Going through a cutting in the hills, Uschi points out the red and maroon colouring as she takes more pictures. The trucks are bunched up thickly on both sides of the road and mansour overtakes them a couple at a time. One coming the other way has such a black exhaust we can’t see for a second or two.
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The tomb of the poet Sadi, Shiraz

The tomb of the poet Sadi at Shiraz
"O Contentment, make me rich! for without thee there is no wealth." - Sadi (1184 - 1283)
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Persepolis, the ancient treasure capital of Persia, till it was burnt down by Alexander the Great. Also known in Iran as 'Takht-e Jamshid'
Yeah, piles of big rocks! (Another tourist shot)
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Naqsh-e Rustam

Tomb II (possibly Xerxes)
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Leaving Tehran for a tour

Waiting at the hold point I saw a medium size passenger jet do a curved approach onto the runway we were on. Scheduled departure was at 0640 and we got away a few minutes later. We flew for about 15 minutes over arid land to the south of Tehran and saw at least two airfields, one near a big salt lake. Shortly after that we did a big S turn to the east of a large town, then over more arable land. The town could have been Qom.At the 30 minute mark we flew over a big city with a sharp ridge to the west. Maybe it was Isfahan.After an hour we turned to the west over a large salt lake with pink salt evapouration pans and let down into Shiraz.

[Saffron sugar for Uschi's early morning coffee at the airport]


After arriving in Shiraz we visited Persepolis. For lunch we went to the Laneh Tavous restaurant. For entrée Uschi had “mast”, another name for yoghurt.

I had Panir (salty/sweet goats cheese) with onions. For mains Uschi had cooked eggplant and I had the normal chicken kebabs with jewel rice. Rice with barberries and a scattering of saffron coloured grains.

Our guide for today is Parviz and the driver is Mansour
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Saturday, June 02, 2007