but-why-iran-mosaics-mosque-esfahan

But…Why Iran?

I had decided in Feb to travel to Iran in early May. It was only for 8 days – a short trip – enough to see Iran as a first-timer though I have later learnt that the average time a traveller spends in Iran is 2 weeks. My sister was interested to join me on this trip. We did all the necessary research in March: organized a private tour through a travel agency in Iran, booked our flight tickets and applied for travel visa.

In all my travels, friends have always asked me about my next destination, and I’m usually happy to oblige. But for this trip, I was slightly reluctant to share because I knew the questions that I would get for the unusual choice of country. It’s the country which has a bad reputation in the West and there aren’t many news media releases which state the good stuff about Iran. As the departure date drew closer, I tried to avoid the inevitable question but I couldn’t. I knew I had to face it.

[BEFORE IRAN]

Friend: Hey, we are going to have a gathering on 1st May, will you be around? Oh wait a minute, it’s a long weekend..let me guess, you will be travelling during that time?

Me: Yeah, I will be travelling at that time. I can’t come for the gathering, sorry…

Friend: I’m so jealous! Where are you going this time?

Me: Iran.

Friend: What, Iran?!

Me: (with a big grin) Yep.

Friend: Is it safe??

Me: Oh yeah, absolutely. …I have read a lot of travel articles about Iran and there are no issues travelling there.

Friend: But…why Iran?

[AFTER IRAN]

Colleague: Hey, I heard you were away recently. Did you go for a holiday?

Me: Yeah, I did.

Colleague: Where did you go? Did you have a good time?

Me: Iran.

Colleague: Iran?!

Me: (with a smile) Yep

Friend: Is it safe??

Me: Oh yes, it is ABSOLUTELY safe. It’s a beautiful country. I had a great time.

Friend: But…why Iran?

The inevitable question was But, why Iran? The answer I gave to my friends before the trip was that the country is very rich in history, art, architecture, and incidentally I have a great interest in these topics. I might have wavered a bit in explaining to them..after all, I haven’t experienced the country yet and especially with the negative media publicity, one can only wonder.

However, after spending 8 wonderful days in Iran recently, soaking up rich Persian history, architecture, art, deliciously yummy food, and the generosity and hospitality of Iranians, I was able to reply to that question with greater conviction that Iran was a positive experience.

Friends and colleagues may or may not be convinced yet how Iran could be contrary to what they read or see on the news (my parents were pretty cool about our trip – thank God for having travel in the family genes!). Hopefully this upcoming series in my blog, will help to give the undecided travellers (or sceptics) a glimpse of what Iran is like.

*****

There was A LOT to experience throughout the 8-day trip. Rather than diving straight into details in this post, let me share with you first some highlights from the trip… 🙂

Palaces and Museums in Tehran

but why iran tehran golestan palace

Mosques and Mausoleums in Shiraz

but why iran shiraz nasir al mulk mosque

Ancient city ruins of Persepolis and Necropolis

but why iran persepolis ancient bas reliefs

Mosaics and Frescoes in Esfahan

but why iran mosaics mosque esfahan

Armenian Cathedral in Esfahan

but why iran esfahan jolfa vank cathedral

Beautiful flowers and gardens of Iran 

but why iran flowers iran spring

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37 comments

  1. Hi Kat,
    So happy to have discovered your blog and particularly your Iran series.

    I was nodding away when I read this post as this is exactly what I heard from colleagues about my recently concluded trip to Uzbekistan. One person even went on to ask, “Where is Uzbekistan?”

    I have spent the last hour going through your Iran posts and I loved them all. Iran has also been on my list of places I want to travel to and apart from a friend who visited it about 10 years back, I know of no one else who has been there.

    I should warn you that I will be bugging you for details so that I can plan my trip there. 🙂

    1. Hi Sudha, no problem at all should you wish to ask me questions about Iran 🙂 I’m hoping that global sanctions circumstances with Iran change for the better in the near future, so that the world will get the chance to know this beautiful country and its people in a more positive manner.So rich in history and culture, and Persians are such lovely and gentle people.

  2. I’m so jealous that you made it. I am sure it was a wonderful journey. You produced so many beautiful pictures and stories.

    May I “consult” a bit details in private, since I would like to visit Iran as well? 🙂

  3. Ha, I can imagine my friends reacting the same way! 🙂 Glad you didn’t let their opinions deter you. Love your photos Kat. Great job 🙂

    1. Thanks Madhu 🙂 They probably thought I was weird for not choosing Europe or Australia as a destination. I hope you’re deciding to go to Iran too??

    1. You used the right word “misunderstood”, Amrita, that’s the unfortunate thing the way world politics and propaganda work in this world 🙁 We didn’t regret one bit visiting this country 🙂

    1. I was nervous too until I met an English girl who had travelled there 3 times for holidays! And my sister’s friend with his family 2 years ago. After reading a few more travel blogs on Iran, we took a leap of faith and booked our tickets. You won’t regret it 🙂

  4. I agree with you Kat that Iran has a rich history and culture. In fact, india too has the effect of Persian architecture in the form of number of historical buildings which Mughals build here. So, I am not surprised you found the beautiful architecture, historical places and amazing culture and generosity in Iran.

    Nice to read your blog and get a different perspective of the usual media- biased opinion about Iran 🙂

    1. Yup, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to see Iran but if I had mentioned that to my fellow Malaysians, they will go “HUH??!” There’s another blog which you may be interested to read http://www.theotheriran.com The articles in the header are quite interesting.

  5. Oh wow, Kat. Iran looks simply stunning and so full of history and culture. I have Iranian friends who have always been very proud of their country, so I think that some people class Iran in the same breath as Iraq! Can’t wait to see more.

    1. There were many jaw-dropping moments when I was there. Sometimes we couldn’t decide where and what to take pictures of, we had to stand there to take a moment 😉 And yes, Iranians, local and abroad, are very proud of their country – they are very delighted to see foreigners, they ask “do you like Iran”, “pls tell your family & friends that Iranians are not crazy people” . Each time we experienced something which was in contrary to our misconceptions, we thought “if only the media sees this & understands…if only”. I have just published another post, so pls have a look 😉 Cheers.

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