- The Middle East Trip: Intro
- Middle East Trip: Arriving in Tehran
- Middle East Trip: Exploring Tehran – Part 1
- Middle East Trip: Exploring Tehran – Part 2
- Middle East Trip: Esfahan – Half of the World
- Middle East Trip: Exploring Esfahan Continues
- Middle East Trip: Our Host in Esfahan
- Middle East Trip: Yazd – The City of Zoroastrianism
- Middle East Trip: A Tour of Persepolis et al
- Middle East Trip: Picnic in Shiraz
- Middle East Trip: Shiraz – Home of Hafez
- Middle East Trip: Back in Tehran
- Middle East Trip: Istanbul – En Route & Arrival
- Middle East Trip: Kind-Hearted Souls in Istanbul
- Middle East Trip: From Amman to Petra, Jordan
- Middle East Trip: CouchSurfing in a Jordanian Cave?
- Middle East Trip: Revisiting the Exquisite Petra
It’s been years since the last time I had a “major” trip. I did New Zealand during my last year in Australia. I did it as part of my official farewell to the continent. It was one of the most memorable trips that I had ever done. New Zealand’s natural beauty was not like any other places I had ever seen (mind you, I hadn’t explored Indonesia yet!). After that amazing trip, I vowed to myself that I would do another major trip again. I call it a major trip because it takes me some years to save money for it to happen and it is done to welcome a new phase of life or to celebrate the completion of my goal. So what was my next major trip after New Zealand?
The Middle East! It was my ultimate choice. I was born here. I grew up in their culture. I had been living here for as long as I could remember. I knew this region before I even learnt about my passport country, Indonesia. I had been fascinated with their history, politics, culture, and foods. I was familiar with many things happening in the Arab world. The Middle East might not be my home, but it did have a special place to my heart — no doubt about that.
This big region that I am talking about is filled with rich culture, religions, and different types of people. I surely cannot generalise the whole Arab world as one thing, like what the media always does. We cannot see or define the region as Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Egypt. They are very different. Yes, they have a lot of similarities, but there are some differences too that I wanted to see, not only through TV but also with my own eyes. Not to mention that there were many stereotypes within the Arab world that I wanted to prove/break. There were too many stories I heard that I wanted to verify. There were a handful amount of “facts” that I wanted to double check. And there were — of course — many historical sites that I wanted to visit and learn more about.
These were the reasons why I wanted to travel around the Middle East. Despite the political turmoils that were happening across the Arab region, it didn’t stop me from going and start exploring. After all, I knew that Egypt was still safe to travel. I didn’t believe in the stupid news about Iran that the media had been trying to portray. Syria might not be a recommended place to go, but I knew Damascus was still safe (because my relatives are still living there as I write this). So, why wait any longer?
It took me more than three years to realise my plan. After intense planning and travel mates searching, I finally decided to do this much-awaited Middle East trip at the end of last year. The timing was perfect. I was about to bid farewell to the Netherlands and start a new life in a different country (and continent). What’s a better way to start my new life other than to travel for a month? 🙂
The initial plan was to do Egypt, Jordan, Jerusalem, Syria, and Lebanon. But then, Arab Spring came and I had to leave Syria and Lebanon behind. I would actually go to Syria if my parents allowed me (obviously they didn’t) and since going to Syria wasn’t possible, Lebanon was automatically left behind (the plan was to go to Lebanon via Syria by bus). So my friends and I decided to do Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and Jerusalem instead. But sadly, things didn’t go as planned before the trip was even started. My visa to Egypt was rejected and I had to separate from the group and go to Turkey, the only country in the Middle East (other than Jordan and Iran) that allowed me to enter its border with a visa on arrival. Thank God for that!
So, enough with the intro! Let’s get it started! In the next few posts, I’ll be sharing my travel reportage and exciting journey in Iran, Turkey, and Jordan (and a little bit about Israel). I hope you’ll enjoy it! 🙂