I arrived Tehran, Iran on May 19th and until now, I had already spent 14 days in Iran. My impression of Iran are so different from other countries I have been during this trip. It’s not the most beautiful places, it’s not the most dangerous place and it’s not the most tourist friendly place. However, it made up some great memories I will never forget:) Below are the reason why-
(1) It’s difficult to get a Tourist Visa, esp during President Election period
Iran government selectively give out visa to tourist-this is a fact but it’s even harder to get a Visa now because of the president election date on June 14th. The Iranian government do not want any foreign media to come into Iran so they suspend ALL visas giving out to Tourist for June travel. I was lucky because I applied for the Visa early so I could picked up my Visa in Dubai. But it almost gave me a heart attack previously. This was because there’s rumors saying that the Iranian Government want all tourist to exit Iran on May 30th and anyone who wanted to travel from May 22nd till June 22nd might be deported. However, this is so NOT true and it was just a trick from the MFA to make tourists to reconsider traveling during that period. I had not heard of anything from the police to tell me to leave the country and the custom officers told me I can stay in Iran till June 18th. So, next time if you guys want to travel around to Iran, watch out for the Election period and tried to apply your Visa early. Otherwise, I suggest you not to travel during that period. Also, it’s better to apply your visa through a visa company to get a reference # for your visa. It’s normally easier to get your visa:)
(2) It’s a very conservative country?!!!!
I had been traveling around the Arabia Peninsula with no problem. No men ever bother me and I could wear whatever I want. However, In Iran , I had encountered so many men followed me around, some even pop the questions-SEX? I don’t know why. I had read about review for solo female travelers traveled to Iran with no problem but this was really a very strange experience for me. People always think I would encountered something bad in Africa -WHICH HAD NEVER HAPPENED!(oh wait except Morocco, but Iranian men is definitely more aggressive!). But isn’t Iran a STRICT AND CONSERVATIVE COUNTRY? Isn’t sex is NOT allow before marriage? Isn’t all their family prohibited their girls to go out at night and watched them carefully not to do something sexually?? But how come when I met some local they told me sex parties are very common in Iran?? I met one couple who traveled around Iran last October and they told me I need to be carefully If I EVER traveled with a Male because we cannot walked together freely and have to sit differently on a bus. They even said male and female will get stoned if they do something inappropriate! Well, I had not traveled with other Male traveler but according to what I saw, this is SO not true. Yes, there’s police who watch out people closely but local people find their way to do whatever they like. I saw local couple kissing on the street(ofcourse when there’s no police around), walked closely together and even sit together on a bus while it’s clearly the front is for men and the back is for women!!!!! I was lucky because I finally met a very nice local couple who became my bodyguard so I didn’t have anyone to bother me anymore. And they told me all young people hate their government! Although they are all born to be Muslim(it’s the LAW!), they do not believe in Allah!!! They hate muslim because girl have to cover their hair and Everyone cannot drink “freely” Whenever, I talked to some young people, they were frustrated. It’s really such a weird feelings for me.
(3) It’s a very poor country??!!!
Most of the local I talked to like to Joke around and sounds very happy. They seems to have a very relaxing life until we talked about politics. The most common questions towards travelers is-HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT IRAN? Iran had always been project as an evil nation but in fact the people there are not like that. Most of the young people are forced to be muslim and force to follow what the government want them to do! They are so mad that their country have all the resources but due to US sanctions, the economy of this country is collapsing everyday. Even though people tried hard to show me the beauty of their country and keep telling me IRAN is beautiful! They can’t help but said IRAN IS SHIT NOW. All the young people want to leave their country and goes somewhere else because they cannot earn good money. All the little money they earn are only enough for food and rent. BUT they are very proud of their country date back before the rise of Islam. They always said Iran should be a very strong country, just politics kill this great country. I really felt very very sad when I heard that because they hate America and europe in someway but they want to move there to have a better life. The normal income for most Iranian is only $300-$500 US dollars and sometimes even less. All young people I’ve met all do not have saving money at all.
(4) People have Twisted mind?!
When you read travel review or Guide book they always tell you Iranians are hospitable, polite, friendly, love their poetry, love music and dancing. They love very large picnics and they know their history. They have lots of traditions that aren’t bound to any particular religion and are proud of their culture( the traditional culture which dates back thousands of years). They love good food and sports, specially soccer. I mean I totally agree with all the above….except I also met so many Special people….
People #1- a highly educated guy who had just finished his MSc in university of Tehran. He told me it’s a FACT that the Aliens were and are here on Earth! he also said the reason why our technologies became so advance these days was because we borrow the technologies from them. He also believe in everything regarding evolution(arh…what about god???hah:P) and astronomies.
People #2-Amir believe in the conspiracy regarding 911. He said it’s the American who put a bomb in World trade center so they can invade the middle east.
People #3-Mohammed said People here are Zombies, they live only for food and Sex…and that’s how he live his life……..
Anyway, this is just my personal feelings and everyone experience a country differently. But deep in my heart I really feel very bad for the people. I had the same feeling towards African people already because they also have all the resources but still so poor, but for IRAN….it’s a more complex feeling! African are more optimistic than Iranians …or maybe Iranian are much smarter than African people because they care about their living. I have 12 more days in Iran and hopfully I will learn more about this country and let you all know about it. Until next time, Cheers:)