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22 replies
Travels to Iran
Syd Barrett
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I am taking this Farsi class and some of my peers are American(some of Irani descent) and they talked about their recent travels to Iran. By that, I mean, within the year. Is it actually doable for Americans to travel to Isfahan, Tabriz, or Tehran? I know none of our airlines fly directly to either of these places, but, can U.S. citizens physically enter one of the countries listed as "Axis of Evil"?

I just want to see for myself where the axis lies.

MeredithBlueEyes
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The last time I checked, Americans could get visas only to travel with a tour group. Those who had family there could apply for a different kind of visa that would enable them to travel independently. The Thorn Tree boards on the Lonely Planet website usually have recent first-hand information.

JonDD
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Why the hell would you want to go there!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

sickboy
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Jon, seriously, if you have nothing to contribute – don’t. We understand you wanna get your posts up, but you are coming off annoying.

I’ve wanted to go to Iran for a number of years, have some great Iranian friends, and appreciate all it has to offer. My friends who have visited there have raved about it. Apparently its also one of the safest countries in the world to visit as well, I guess we can thank the clerics for that. I am personally interested in the Black Sea coast (want to see how it compares to Azerbaijans), Persepolis and the place in the south with the caves. I think it would be a fantastic place, and it is always nice to get away from the tourists.

JonDD
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Well good for you sickboy. Tourists?? What do you think you are when you visit some place else? A local?? Moron. Post count my ass I am dead serious why go to a place like that? So you want to see some stuff there?? Great. Good for you. Hope your not one of the people that gets kidnapped. Or get your head cut off. I know its not Iraq but close enough. And on a further note… suck it sickboy.

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Visa application forms from the Irani Interests section of the Pakistani Embassy:

http://www.daftar.or…

Andrew Runov
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quote: Why the hell would you want to go there!?!?!?!?!?!?

To check whether they really eat kids

Sailor
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It’s pretty high on my list as well.

I’ve read nothing but positive things about people who have visited there. And I love going to places that Americans don’t go to.

Don’t worry, once JonDD gets a little more travel under his belt, he’ll be a little more open minded about more exotic destinations.

JonDD
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Sailor…exotic destinations are great but Iran?? I for one would not consider Iran exotic. Im glad you like going to places Americans dont but realize WHY they dont want to go there. That region as a whole typically are not what I would call American friendly and thats fine but why would I want to pay a ton of money to travel to a place where people hate you for where you live even though they dont know you. It reminds me a line from a Neil Young song "dont feel like Im satan but I am to them so I try to forget it any way I can". Besides I would not call sand exotic unless its on a beach! Keep on rockin in the free world!

sickboy
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How do you know everyone hates you there? Is that what you see on the news? Sailor is right, you do need to travel more. If you did, you’d realize that most of the people out there are kind and friendly, and I’d guarantee that most Iranian people would treat you with tremendous hospitality – as part of their culture, or to show that they don’t hate people blindly.

In your previous posts you comapred Iran directly to the current situation in Iraq which couldn’t be further from the truth. Turn off the TV and open your eyes and ears Jon boy.

JonDD
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Thats good and fine and your right I do need to travel more. I do not however need to put myself in a jepardizing situations. Its looking for trouble. Let me tell you if I ever did go there and ran into one of those crazy Islam fundamentalists it would not be pretty. Can you say international incident?? I would definitly put up a fight before my head gets chopped off!

sickboy
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How many people have had their head chopped off in Iran?

I know that N and Q thing can be confusing, but you shouldn’t take your world view from CNN and FOX.

When I was in Morocco, my American friend got the most attention, for being polite, funny and intelligent. Not what they expected in other words. Everyone liked him the most, because he was "the good American." Their sterotypes can fall away, maybe one day yours will too.

JonDD
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So sickboy what your saying is the news no matter what source (I have looked at others besides CNN and Fox) makes no difference? The new reports what….lies…events that arent happening?? Im not saying that the news is 100% accurate but come on man!

Sailor
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I don’t expect anyone to understand why others would want to travel to Iran unless they’ve considered it themselves. I’ve done a little research on traveling to Iran, as others here have obviously done as well, and have walked away with a much different picture than the one the US media will give you. Many young Iranians like Western culture and lifestyle. Go to LP Thorntree and people will tell you that they were in the middle of an anti-American rally, then people invited them to their houses afterwards.

Try getting news from sources other than the US media. See "Control Room" to get an idea about the differences in presentation. Read The New York Times or Washington Post.

Syria is also a nation that sponsors terrorism. I’ve been there, and until the Myanmar people bumped them out, the Syrians were at the top of "Sailor’s Nicest Locals" list.

One thing I have learned is that people in other countries are able to separate a country’s government from a country’s people Americans, on the other hand, are unable to separate the two. Sadddam Hussein was bad, therefore all Iraqis must be bad, therefore all Muslims must be bad. Not true at all, but that’s the American like of thinking.

Id like a link to those news reports you’re referring to.

JonDD
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Sailor…. 1st off I never refered to a specific report. I get news from many sources and pull what I can from other countries as well as the ones in the states to compare/contrast. Yes their are differences. Some countries dont even report things other countries do. Seperating gov. and people?? Please. Most Americans are able to realize the difference between gov and the people that live in the country. Just like in the states. I dont approve of everything our gov. does just as others dont in other countries. I never said all people of Iran are bad nor did I say that all muslims are bad. Im sure their are plenty of nice people in Iran. Still doesnt change the fact that there are crazy people there as well just like anywhere else. But when those crazy people specifically target Americans why put yourself in a place like that??

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I could imagine having the same conversation with an Iranian, but the other way around.

Good posts Sailor.

Sailor
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"…Some countries dont even report things other countries do."

Ours is one of them, unfortunately.

"Seperating gov. and people?? Please. Most Americans are able to realize the difference between gov and the people that live in the country"

My experience has been much different from yours. Many Americans think Iraq caused 9/11, and this isn’t the case. You apparently cannot separate the two either or you wouldn’t be prejudging the Iranian people, you’re basing your own feelings on what you’ve read about their government.

I haven’t read any stories about Iranians targeting American tourists lately. Most threats to Americans abroad are to expats rather than tourist.

Our country was viciously attacked 9/11. Does that make us a dangerous country to visit?

don’t worry, I don’t expect you to "get it."

JonDD
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quote: My experience has been much different from yours. Many Americans think Iraq caused 9/11, and this isn’t the case. You apparently cannot separate the two either or you wouldn’t be prejudging the Iranian people, you’re basing your own feelings on what you’ve read about their government.

Sailor… I mentioned in a post above that I am sure there are nice people in Iran. I can seperate the 2 just fine thank you. This has nothing to do with feelings. It is about that region as a whole. I am not singling out Iran here. You wouldnt catch me in Iran, Iraq or Syria right now. It has to do with safety.

Example: Someone wants to visit the Congo because of its culture and beauty. Then are kidnapped by people and wonder why this happened to them. Its a clear choice. If you want to travel someplace that the "locals" maybe friendly it doesnt change the fact that the extremists are running around doing stupid crap. Bottom line is if you want to travel to a country that has its risks that is your decision and you pay the price for your actions. Personally I would rather avoid those areas. Thats just me.

America dangerous? Sure but I bet your chances of something happening to you in America are less than in that region of the world.

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My experience in muslim countries thus far has been that you’re more likely to be killed with kindness. But one will never understand that until they experience it firsthand.

Syd, I hope you make and and have a safe and fun trip. I’m dying to hear about it.

sickboy
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Jon, you make some horrible comparisons. You should stop comparing Iran to war destroyed Iraq or the Congo, they are completely different things. Iraq has a major war, and the Congo has either, several, or none at any given moment. Iran has none, and is stable.

That’s like me comparing the US to Nazi Germany!

Hmmmm….

Seriously, try Sailor’s advice and check the thorn tree at LP. Read what it is really like.

I’ve been to three Muslim countries and Sailor is right… kindness is the norm.

Syd Barrett
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Hahaha! JonDD, it’s best to leave a sinking ship……unless you can swim very fast or use a lifevest. Here, you have neither.

Thanks to the others for contributing some good info and sharing your thoughts with me on this post. It’s one of the rare times where I won’t get political and post outside the "other" post.

Fact of the matter is, I have been interested in Iranian culture for quite some time. Speaking with some of my persian friends and meeting some very friendly young farsi students(of Iranian and Afghan descent) has only encouraged me more to consider a trip there soon.

As for the political situation, it’s not what we in the West call a democracy. Yet, women have a much more visible role in politics at the national and municipal level, than most other countries in the region. This is more important to most of them, than about the veils and birkas(sp?). What’s more, in recent politics it has been shown that the Reform Party leadership under President Khatami has considerable, if limited, influence in policy-making. Although the Clerics have a final say on things, they are smart enough to let a lot of liberal ideas to come to the table and even enacted into law. We forget that the youth gap is increasing and the educated young 20somethings are voicing their opinions and calling for more change. So far, the Clerics have done little to show for themselves in terms of asserting their muscle. It appears that, for the time being, it’s best to keep the population relatively happy and not be TOO rigid in enforcing strict Islamic code.

The current Ayatollah Khameini is a LOT different in terms of charisma, respect, and power from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of the Revolution fame. And, that’s not just because of spelling from an a to an o, JonDD.

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We met an older Iranian couple while on a train in Italy. We talked with them at great length and when they found out we were on a RTW they begged us to change our itinerary and come visit them in Tehran. They said they would show us all around the area and mentioned that contrary to popluar belief, many Americans do travel to Iran. They said that having and entertaining vistors from other contries is an honor for Iranians. Unfortunately we could not change our route but we have their email and one day hope to take them up on their offer. Syd, when you go please fill us Rest-of-the-World-junkies in on your experience.

Syd Barrett
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quote:
We met an older Iranian couple while on a train in Italy. We talked with them at great length and when they found out we were on a RTW they begged us to change our itinerary and come visit them in Tehran. They said they would show us all around the area and mentioned that contrary to popluar belief, many Americans do travel to Iran. They said that having and entertaining vistors from other contries is an honor for Iranians. Unfortunately we could not change our route but we have their email and one day hope to take them up on their offer. Syd, when you go please fill us Rest-of-the-World-junkies in on your experience.

It won’t be until next year, realistically. Right now, priority one for me is to get a new job. I’m also taking classes for my Master’s. So, as much as I’d like to go right now, I really NEED to buckle down and get this done. Hopefully, by then, my Farsi will be better and we won’t have gone to war with Iran(presumably to make it a better place?).