I am having a break from the bicycle and am backpacking around Iran for the next 8 weeks. Apologies for the lack of photos on this post, I am sitting in the airport of Istanbul and have one hour to get this written and out to you all! I am feeling both excited and nervous. When I step off the plane in Tehran I must adhere to Iran’s strict dress code by wearing the Hijab. I carry a white scarf with me for countries with such a dress code. Unfortunately, my beautiful white scarf has traveled through 10 countries now and has been used for various mechanical repairs to the bike. It now features a grand design of patterned oil stains.
Thankfully, I have a Syrian head scarf also which was given to me as a gift by a family on the Turkish border to Syria. You will learn more about this wonderful family and their extraordinary story as refugees of Syrian when when I finish writing the final blog posts of ‘WBG and Lucy’s 1400 Mile Adventure’.
Iran and Turkey are both predominately Muslim countries. A major difference is that religion does not write Turkey’s laws whereas it does in Iran. Women have freedom to choose how to dress in Turkey. This brought me great surprise to find so many women choosing to still wear the Hijab in Turkey. I look forward to learning and understanding more about this part of the Muslim religion. In Iran, there are moral police everywhere. This special type of police are dressed in uniform in establishments but out on the streets they can be dressed as civilians. Their job is to ensure the Iranian people are all adhering to the Islamic laws of the country at all times.
I must be careful when I return to Turkey as apart from my face, none of my skin will have had sunlight on it for 8 weeks. The song ‘Burn Baby Burn Disco Inferno’ springs to mind.
There are banking sanctions on Iran. The banking computing systems are not linked up with those of the countries imposing the sanctions. This renders our bank cards useless in Iran. If you run out of money you have to jump on a flight to the nearest cash machine in Dubai! Being a solo independent traveler this could be problematic. But severe punishments for stealing makes Iran one of the safest countries in the world to carry such amounts of money on your person. People value having their hands attached to their arms.
Iran is an extraordinarily sized country, listed as the 18th biggest in the world with a population of just under 80 million and covering an area of 1024140.89 sq miles.
I will begin my adventures in Tehran. A city of 14 million people with an additional 6 million people estimated to be commuting in every day for work. I have arranged a place to stay through www.couchsurfing.com. A website which allows hosts to offer their couch or spare room to travelers visiting their home town. Accommodation is then free. I am wondering how on earth I will manage to make my way from the airport to the other side of Tehran, where my host lives. I am used to writing down the name of destinations on pieces of paper then matching the words to those on the front of buses. But how does this work with the Iranian language of Farsi, my eyes see only as squiggles. I’ll let you know how I get on in my next blog post.
I’m super happy to be sharing this experience with you all. It’s a unique opportunity for you to gain insight into the people and culture of a country we see so much in the news headlines.
If you think anyone else would enjoy learning about Iran as this journey is actually taking place please share this post so they know it’s happening. The journey begins tomorrow!
As always, thank you.
World Bike Girl … about to conquer the squiggle.