We often hear about Iran from other travellers, authors, on social media, and of course through the media. We read about the dangers in Iran and politicians around the world also paint a picture of hostility in Middle East countries. The thought of travel to a country that has a culture that is so foreign to many of us can be daunting, even scary. But, in the motorcycle adventure industry, we hear time and time again of the good, even great, experiences that travellers have while visiting Iran. That the people they met were some of the friendliest and most hospitable in the world.
CBC’s The Current recently aired an episode where they interviewed a Switzerland based Canadian-Egyptian filmmaker, Tarek Mounib, who had offered a free trip to Egypt for Americans who were fearful of Muslims. For this, he even attended a Trump rally to look for participants, and finding one there, he then recruited the rest through the media and online appeals. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the seven chosen people to face their prejudices and views by being paired up with Egyptian families. Their experiences were recorded and presented in a film called Free Trip to Egypt.
On the film’s website it says,
“Free Trip to Egypt takes audiences on a remarkable journey, in which an unlikely group of travelers to the Middle East find themselves transformed by the power of human connection.”
And on this episode we speak with motorcycle travellers, Silke and Jan Neumann, who found human connection when they traveled to Iran and spent six months there. They felt their experience was so profound that they contacted us at ARR, wanting to share their story with us and our listeners.
More about Silke and Jan: https://adventureriderradio.com/adventure-rider-radio-episodes/2017/6/14/the-couple-who-rode-their-motorcycles-to-the-north-cape-in-a-snow-storm
Images: Jan and Silke Neumann
Safe Travel Iran:
While it may be generally safe to travel to countries like Iran, it’s important to do your due diligence by researching and preparing for your visit, as you should for any country that you plan to travel in. A good understanding of what is expected of visitors and their cultures may make for a better experience. And of course, attitude may also play a big part in how you perceive the people.
Being aware and remaining alert is also important when travelling. According to an article in Lonely Planet there have been instances where visitors to Iran have been arrested and were held until it was determined that they weren’t a spy. And women are cautioned to avoid being alone with strange men and that they may be subject to ‘unwanted suggestions’ or being ‘groped’, particularly in busy places such as bazaars or public transit.
The article also suggests that if you do your best to ‘fit in with the local customs’ you will be treated well, with ‘courtesy and friendliness’, much like Jan and Silke found.
Free Trip to Egypt: https://www.freetriptoegypt.com
CBC Article: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-august-12-2019-1.5243643/this-filmmaker-wanted-to-help-people-get-over-their-islamophobia-so-he-offered-them-a-free-trip-to-egypt-1.5243704
Lonely Planet - Iran/Middle East Article: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran/safety