Exhausted is the only word I can say about myself as soon as the plane has touched down at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen Airport. I did manage to sleep for a few hours, but it wasn't enough. All I want to do now is to rush to the visa and immigration section, take my luggage, hop into the last bus to the city, find my hostel that I already booked, and have a proper sleep. The visa on arrival process is smooth sailing -- to my surprise.
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I have been looking forward to come back to Tehran after having such a memorable day with my host Reza and his family, and Saeede. I promised them that I would find a way to come back, even with my packed schedule. I am glad that I fulfilled my promise. The purpose of me going back is actually just one: to spend as much time as I can with them.
24-25 December 2011 The next two days of my stay in Shiraz is purely dedicated for sightseeing and meeting fellow CouchSurfers. As the amount of money I have for this entire trip is significantly reduced by USD 400 due to the unexpected change of plans, I cannot go beyond the city centre as travelling outside of Shiraz would be expensive. But it does not seem to be a bad decision either to stay in the city as Shiraz seems toRead more
Azin asks me if I have any plans today and whether or not I'd like to join her for a so-called Shirazi picnic in her friend's house. Since the first day I arrive in Tehran a week ago, my schedules were always packed with sightseeing and meeting CouchSurfing people. I did not have a single day of full rest and doing nothing. Somehow, I kinda miss that feeling. I figure, I have two more days before I come back to Tehran. That's enough time to do sightseeing and mingling with locals. Why would I want to miss out this golden chance? I finally say 'yes' to her invitation :)
Traveling to Iran would not be complete without visiting historic sites of the Great Archaemenid Empire. Since these sites are not too far away from Shiraz, I decided to visit them as soon as we arrive in the city from Yazd early morning. An Iranian guide, recommended by Lonely Planet, picks us up from the bus station to our ultimate destination. I'm hoping that by having a tour guide, we'd not only visit these places and be amazed with their architectures, but also learn about the history behind them.
When doing my research on Iran before this Middle East trip, there were two particular cities that particularly caught my attention. Yazd is one of them. Being the centre of Zoroastrianism and the main religion of some of Persian great empires, Yazd is the city I would not want to miss. Even though I would be spending only a few hours in Yazd, I wouldn’t mind taking a bit of detour, just so that I can catch a glimpse of Yazd. Upon traveling around Iran for few days, I came to realize that indeed, I made the right decision to come all the way from Esfahan to Yazd. Zoroastrianism has been one of the defining elements of Persian culture.
After dinner, Ikmal and I join Majid to discuss about Shia, the most misunderstood branch of Islam, merely because the majority of Muslims in this world are Sunnis. Our intention in starting such discussion is not to try to convince the other party that his view is wrong, but merely to know and understand Shia from a Shia's perspective.
Our tour around the Imam Square continues to Ali Qapu Palace, which is unfortunately closing earlier than we expected. This used to be the place where Shah Abbas entertained his noble visitors and foreign ambassadors
We arrive in Esfahan just after the call to a morning prayer. I managed to sleep a little bit during the 6-hour long train ride. It was noisy and bumpy, but this was expected as I was too used to the comfort of European trains. But I'm happy that I'm in Esfahan now! I've always wanted to go to this city, which is the former capital city of Persia. When I think of Iran, Esfahan is the first thing that comes into my mind. The famous Square is the reason why I am drawn into this place.
The minute we step into Sharaf El Islam Restaurant we know that this is indeed a perfect place to taste authentic Iranian foods. My host, Reza, recommended me this restaurant located right inside the Grand Brazaar of Tehran. The restaurant is packed with Iranians and the tables are arranged very close to each other. The place is quite narrow and it is quite tricky to find a place to sit.
Today will be the first day that I will see and explore Tehran. It will also be my last day in Tehran, as I will be taking a night train to Esfahan.
It was only a year and five months ago when I first stepped my foot in KL, with nothing but my luggage, a tourist visa, and the hope of getting a job. After only a month, I landed myself a job in a middle-sized IT company and tried my best to build my life here from scratch. At that moment in time, my journey in Malaysia had – more or less — started. I have to admit though — itRead more
After what seems like the most boring 15-hour transit experience ever, my plane arrives in Tehran. I am finally here, in Iran. Today, 17th of December 2011, marks the start of my Middle East trip. The trip that I have always been waiting for. One dream can soon be checked off the list. I feel excited, thrilled, and nervous at the same time. Yes, I am alone here, at this moment. One part of me screams that I am insane. What am I doing in this totally strange place alone? The other part of me applauds myself for having the courage to do this. Well done, you have finally conquered your fear!
A friend once told me, “Their language is the same as ours. Their culture is similar too. Why do you still need to adapt?” Ooooh, yes! I still need to adapt and I’m struggling with it. Culture shock is inevitable, even for a person like me who have lived in 6 different countries across 3 continents. Living in a new country is like starting your life all over again from scratch. Finding new friends. Getting acquainted with a new culture.Read more
Death. The word you won’t understand until you have a person you love breathing for the last time in front of your eyes. I never witnessed death in my whole life. I never understood the feeling of losing loved ones. I had no idea how it felt. I never experienced it. Having to live abroad for most of my life, I don’t get the luxury of being close to my extended family and relatives. We seldom see each other, perhapsRead more