Tried the central bank and they can help but it will take two or three days to transfer the money from the UK. It’s an option but not a great one.
Then tried the British Embassy because I am a resident in Blighty and they are way closer to my hotel. Kathy an American working at the British Embassy was excellent and they let me use their phone to call the NZ embassy. Barny at the NZ embassy knew a place that sold airline tickets with plastic. Sorted. He even knew the All Blacks score. ABs 26 Wales 25. Result!
So here it is if you ever get stuck in Tehran with no cash but plenty of plastic contact these guys and they will sell you a ticket to freedom.
No 57 and 59 Kavousi Far St
Tehran(98 21) 874 2121
My flight is at 4am via Dubai. I couldn’t get on the direct flight with Iran Air because they have no facility for dealing with credit cards. Incredible.
Not sure I am so unhappy about this as I recently found out that you can fly for Air Iran with about 220 flying hours experience. In the West pilots need around 1500. Also because of the sanctions American has placed on Iran they can only buy second hand planes from countries like Turkey. Glad I found that out after I flew with them six times.
Something I have really struggled with in Iran is trying not to do the thumbs up sign. When I talk pidgin English I always use lots of hand signals to help the foreign folk get the drift. Usually I end an agreement by doing the thumbs up. But I have tried (with little success) to stop doing this because in Iran it means ‘fuck your mother’. Not good.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON IRAN
Iran is the only Middle Eastern country in the middle east that has regular elections. But it’s a false democracy. You can only vote for men approved by the ultra-conservative Supreme Council. And they can override anything the elected parliament decides anyway. So where is the point? This is part of the reason why so many young people want to leave.
In my opinion the actions of this government are remarkably similar to that of the old Soviet Union. They are mistrusting of all foreigners to the point of paranoia. And the bureaucracies main purpose is to preserve the status quo regardless of it’s merits or the wishes of the people.
There are some other things that point to general backwardness here. You can’t use overseas cards to withdraw money from any bank. Foreign mobiles don’t work. The internet is the worst of any country I have been to and many sites are blocked. Loads of other harmless media is banned aswell. And at a time when most of the developed world is moving away from nuclear energy Iran can’t wait to get a bunch of shiny new reactors. This is probably just because America says they can’t. I asked what they would do with the toxic waste and it’s cool they are going to bury it really really deep. This is in a country that is so ridden with fault lines they have at least one earthquake of sized six or more every single year. Real sharp.
The local men also have some fucked up ideas about women. Both Iranian and foreign women. There needs to be a huge amount of education in this area before the chicks here get their knickers in a twist.
There is also an embarrassing lack of coffee shops. Shame.
All that aside you cannot deny the genuine curiosity and warmth that you experience from the locals on a daily basis here. Everywhere you go people want to say hello and ask you where you are from.
In short. Government bad. Attitudes to women bad. Coffee situation diabolical. People great.
IRAN AND TOURISM
Iran could be doing a lot more to encourage tourism. Here are my ideas:
- Scrap the visa you’re not going to stop any of the real undesirable. Everyone knows MOSSAD (the Israeli Secret Service) travel on New Zealand passports anyway.
- Have a tourist information office in every major city.
- Open up all of the holy sites to tourists. You never know you might convert a few unsuspecting tourists.
- Make taxi meters compulsory OR have a lucrative point/reward system for running over taxi drivers.
- Get an open top bus tour for Tehran. The main sites of interest are very far apart.
- Import some bloody real coffee
- Respect women