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First Sight at the Half the World

I arrived at Isfahan at 5:30 in the morning when the bus terminus was gradually wake up at dawn. The travelers scattered around as if the station was conducting its metabolism. Sleepy, I lean against the chair to wait for the conductor. After reassuring the timetable of the bus towards the international airport, I bought the ticket for fourth day after. Isfahan would be my trip termination of Iran. The moment when I stepped out of the station, the street there was filled with taxi, taking away passengers one after another. I stopped one of them, and told the name and address of the hotel to the driver. The driver reached out his hands and made two gestures, two fingers of one hand, while five fingers of the other hand. I asked, “Does it mean 25 thousand Rials?” The driver nodded and then I jumped onto the cab.

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There was not much surprise on the first sight at Isfahan. The straight road design here is similar to that of Jiayuguan which is also located in desert. However, there are more trees here in Isfahan which let me think about the word “oasis”. The hotel which I planned to lodge was just besides the street where many trees were planted. The signboard of the hotel is small but correct. I took out 25 thousand Rials and handed it to the driver. But his hands were shaking with doubting expression in his eyes. “Are 25 thousand Rials correct?” By shaking his head, the driver took out a pen and wrote on his hand the number 50000. “But you’ve said 25 thousand Rials were correct.” I said to him while making the gestures of two and five by my hands. He looked at my gestures and showed me again the number on his hand. I then realized that he might not understand English. But I was also confused. Did he contradict himself or just because I misunderstood that gesture? But the driver actually nodded and we’ve reached an agreement on the price before I got on the car. I won’t pay him the extra money. Both sides didn’t compromise with each other and such dispute remained to the reception desk of the hotel. I then begged the boss of the hotel to translate for me but the latter simply refused and it seemed that he usually did so. At that moment, anger came overwhelmed me. What I was angry about was not the extra 25 thousand Rials, but the hotel boss’ attitude of unwilling to offer help. If he could convey the driver’s meaning, the quarrel might have been solved, but he didn’t do so. Then, I chose not to stay in this hotel and left instantly after paying another 5 thousand Rials to the driver. “That what I can pay at most and it is up to you to decide to take it or not.” Although I knew that he might not understand what I said, I still said those words. Murmuring something in the mouse, the driver left away and disappeared. I had no other choice besides this hotel on my notebook. So I could do nothing but find other place to live in along the street one building after another. While walking, I was wondering whether I had misunderstood the driver. I remembered that I once discussed with travelers from other countries the topics about the gesture and found that despite there is little difference between the gestures from the number 1-10. Maybe the real meaning of the driver was 50 thousand, but I did misread it as 25 thousand.

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I almost had walked through the whole street and found an appropriate suite for one person at the place around the Si-o-seh pol. The room located on the second floor, while the third floor is for dinning. Taking a look from the windows in the dinning hall, one would see the spread part of the branches. The service person who gave an introduction to the environment was very enthusiastic with a smile expression on his face. When he handled the key to me, I asked him occasionally, “Do you know how much does it cost to take a taxi to the station from here?” He answered smilingly with his eyes looking like smiling, “About 50 to 60 Rials.” “Oh, get it.” With fragrance coming from the kitchen, I then said “I'm looking forward to the breakfast tomorrow.”

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I took the key and back to my room to sleep till the middle of the day. I felt hungry when woke up, Then I took the bag and went on streets for something to eat. In the morning, even the silent street became crowded. Shops were filled with the street on its both sides. The most popular shops are those selling fast food or restaurants which sell fruit juice or ice-cream. Among the rest are the high quality hotel, boutiques, photo studios and souvenir shops, etc. It was the first time that I saw so many young ladies on the street who were wearing slim cut clothes chatting and smiling with each other while walking in twos and threes. Similar crowded scene, but the crowded Isfahan is different from that in Teheran. This place was filled with a light rhythm like taking a walk on the piano keys. I ate a piece of Falafel burg, and continued my trip. I crossed multi-thread one-way streets and the island which was filled with tree shades and unconsciously came to the Imam Square.

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Imam Square is currently the third largest square in the world which is made up of a corridor construction with the dimension of 508 meters in length and 106 meters in width. Apricum Palace and Lotf Allah Mosque are located facing with each other on the two longer sides. And the Mosque with the same name and the imperial market occupy the two shorter sides. Shopping arcades are countless inside and outside the corridor, such as handmade jewelry store, silverware shops, hand-painted porcelain shop, Backgammon stores, carpet shop, dessert shop, etc. All the shops with or without names are located here. In the center of the square lies a rectangle pond. The fountain spouted several glittering and translucent curves. The short trees and smooth lawn are lying around the square. Travelers were taking a walk on the square or having picnics on the lawn and occasionally taking a carriage traveling around seeing each other while regarding each other as parts of the scenery.

Iranians regarded Isfahan as [Half the World]. Located in the center point of the Southern Silk Road, the city once gathered businessmen and businesswomen and travelers from all around the world and witnessed the rapid development of culture, architecture and art. It seemed that the world essence was concentrated on this place at that time. Isfahan is the heart of Iran where a powerful cultural history is expressed from this place. Isfahan is the proud of Iranians. If you are travelling in Iran, you must be asked: “Have you been to Isfahan yet?

I spent the whole afternoon till dusk at the Imam square. On my way to the hotel, I paid a visit to the Si-o-seh pol. The river bed was barely exposed in the air. The scene made the stone bridge like a dam with lights on it or a city wall. The temperature declined drastically at night. I was shaking myself while counting the bridge’s holes from 1 to 33 and then stood at the end of the bridge looking at the beautiful night. Someone told me at that time that the river’s water would be back when the snow from the north place melt.

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On the second day, I started from the Imam Square and traveled through the complex Imperial Market and got lost for several times and then finally came to the Grand Friday Mosque. I once thought that the mosque were just the same. I found myself to be wrong the moment when I stepped into the Grand Friday Mosque. This mosque was a complexity of numerous mosques in different times. The mosques in the four directions looked unique and different from each other, which would give you a great treat like buying an ice-cream. The oldest mosque was made up of simple stone bricks and soil structure. Therefore, all the lines and forms should be expressed through the change of the structure and that of the light, which was as difficult as using white pigment to draw picture on white paper. The demon was hiding in the details but I saw the god. He as if came down on the light beam and he would live in those who touched that light.

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Apart from those tourist spots, I found a comfortable corner. That was a coffee house in the deep end of the twist lane beside the Imam Square. Combining calmness and crowdedness, this coffee shop provided free network access and various spice tea. Then, on the following day I took several postcards and came here to spend a whole afternoon while connecting the other half of the world. Despite it was a waste to leave out those spots, I really liked to spend time writing down the feeling of the trip as a conclusion just like writing a footnote. I thought that this was the charm of Isfahan. It made me calm down and let me trace back the neither too slow nor too fast rhythm as well as the fantasy which was left behind on the trip.

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At the moment, I was sitting on the slow movement object which was called as vehicle. A certain direction first appeared and then the sound together with subtle vibration then came. Looking up, I found the charming fireworks in the sky. In despite of its instantaneity, it indeed caught my heart. And it seemed that I took this vehicle only to catch up with this instantaneity.

However, after seeing the firework, I had to continue my trip home.

Destination: Isfahan, Iran

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