Cultural places in Middle East
Palangan is a Kurdish village build half on a steep mountain side in Iranian Kurdistan, half inside the mountain itself. It is a fantastic setting and it becomes an absolutely genuine experience when one begins to climb the steps between the houses greeting Kurds in their traditional baggy trousers and colorful dresses. Even friendlier and more hospitable than the Persian Iranians, the Kurds will give very warm welcome to their provinces. However Palangan's splendor have not been lost on the locals and the village see a lot of local tourists on weekends. To get a (even) more off-the-beaten-track experience seek out other beautiful Kurdish mountain villages like Howraman-at-Takht, Kamala, Dezli and the town of Paweh - all in the Howraman Valley.
One of the best way to partake in Iranian culture is to visit one of the country's numberless tea houses or chaykhaneh as they are called in Farsi. They come in all sizes and forms from the spacious traditional ones, which stands as historical monuments to Persian culture; to the small local ones, resembling alcohol-free dives, full of regulars discussing the latest and full of smoke from qalyan (waterpipes). Some of the most grandiose are found down narrow steps in the country's bazaars, with particularly interesting chaykanehs found in Esfahan, Kerman, and Kashan. Visit either to enjoy dive into to the sweet tea, fruity tobacco and delicious snacks or just to watch a distinctive part of Persian and Middle Eastern (male) culture. While the Iranian women would fell unwelcomed in most tea houses, foreigners are usually approached as 'honorable men' and welcomed with usual Iranian hospitality.
Nizwa is an ancient town once protected by an old desert fort. Even today the old souq (market) is still the centre of trade and traditional goods are changing hands as they did a century ago. It even becomes better on Fridays when it's goat auction day. From early morning, Bedouins come in to buy and sell. In an open arena goats are dragged around by their owner in front the observing audience. A potential buyer calls over the goat, squeezes its testicles and decides whether to buy it or not. Besides the goats and the occasional camel, the other attractions are the colourful Bedouin women who attend the market. Some have their face covered by a finely decorated cloth mask, half as an out-of-this-world fashion statement and half as protection from the strong sun. They sure will make an impression.