i don’t have a camera yet

so therefore i can’t really start on the istanbul part of my project yet.

but what i can do is talk about the things i am most excited about.

i try not to hold too many ideas and expectations in my head before i visit some place. but  when i read or see certain things i can’t help myself. and i will try now to talk about those things that really grab me. a good deal of this travel inspiration comes from roadjunky.com and hitchwiki.org.

first up: Iran. i am so crazy excited to go there.

as a warm up you can read this: http://www.roadjunky.com/guide/382/iran-travel-guide-online

and/or this: http://hitchwiki.org/en/Iran

so there are a lot of things people say about Iran. a lot of this is bullshit, but some things are true, and these are some of the various facts that have made the biggest impressions on me: 

no alcohol, no dancing, no women singing (although they can play an instrument), no hosting foreigners (although people often break this rule, and i am counting on them to do so), no facebook. also i find the idea of temporary marriages ridiculous (temporary marriages are exactly that - temporary. both parties agree on the period of the marriage and the compensation to the women, and men can have as many of these as they like. of course, women can’t have more than one of these at a time.

moving away from all of the laws, i have heard, and also found through my own experience, that the people are among the world leaders in being kind, polite, and hospitable. Iran is the kind of place where it is impossible to go hungry, and it is especially important to be good to travellers and foreigners. 

with all these laws telling you what not to do, especially considering how the islamic government hijacked a perfectly liberal revolution, there has been a radical change of perspective among the young people. in Tehran and Esfahan, the largest cities, most of the youth aren’t interested in religion and oil, but are instead interested in changing their world. i assumed young, modern, liberal iranians would want to get the hell out, because that is what i feel i would want. but they don’t want to leave, despite, and perhaps partly because of, all of the restricting laws and the imposing military. in a way, they are defined by what confines them. that brings them together. it is hard to leave when there is so much to be done to change things. so there are these tightly knit communities that are forced to express themselves underground, whether by drinking, dancing, and having parties in their houses, or by meeting in a series of ever changing cafes to discuss how they will protest against the government and educate the people around them. Iran has always had a very highly educated middle class, and that is still true, many young people speak excellent english and have a good idea about the world and what is in it. these middle class youth are the agents of change now.

I am lucky enough to have friends that are a part of this culture, and i am really excited to go and see their world.

another country i can’t wait to see is Georgia. their government has been on a strong path toward modernisation for a while now, and there is a huge english teaching initiative (Teach and Learn with Georgia) that also has the side effect of bringing in thousands of english speakers. 

there is one story that i find really exciting: the georgian traffic police force used to be very corrupt, treating the roads as their personal piggy bank. eventually the government issued an ultimatum: stop the bribery or i will fire everybody. it didn’t stop, and the government made good on their promise. about 30,000 officers were fired, from the top down. for about three months the entire country lived without traffic police. then they restructured everything about the force. one of these changes was a rule about foreigners, and now, whenever you feel in danger, you can ask a police officer to drive you anywhere in a 140km radius, for free. all you need to do is fill out a form.

so this is a country which is performing a radical experiment. they are doing everything they can to modernise themselves, and make their country more accessible. i would like to see how well it is working. also i have heard it is a really beautiful country, with amazing people.

a location i am fascinated by is Lake Baikal in Russia, the world’s oldest and deepest lake. two thirds of the plants and animals that live there are unique to the lake. it is so clear, you can see the bottom 40 metres down. it will still be very cold though, even during the summer, so i don’t know how much i will be able to interact with the lake. but whatever, i am nerd for these kinds of things.

i have always wanted to go to the mongolian steppes. i have these visions of me standing in the middle of a deserted road, seeing only empty plains in every direction, with nothing but my guitar to keep my company. i actually think that this picture will be quite easy to realise.

One of the biggest and most expensive side trips i am going to make is from China to South Korea and Japan (with ferries).

bizarrely enough, i became much more excited about going to SK after spending time in Seoul-Incheon airport during my layovers to and from NZ. it was by far the best airport i have had the pleasure of spending time in. free showers, computers, smoking rooms that were not disgusting, water fountains everywhere. and the workers were amazingly polite and genuine. and the cultural centres! you could go and make (and keep!) traditional crafts, watch concerts, and play traditional games. it was great, actually.

i usually hate airports, but this one i can support.

and Japan. even with the current radioactive state of affairs, i feel like my time spent there will be some of the most rewarding of the entire trip. Diego, a friend i met at the hitchhikers gathering in Portugal, wrote a fair bit about hitchhiking there, and made it sound wonderful - http://hitchwiki.org/en/Japan.

I think i might create a part two for this post later on.

i don’t have a camera yet

so therefore i can’t really start on the istanbul part of my project yet.

but what i can do is talk about the things i am most excited about.

i try not to hold too many ideas and expectations in my head before i visit some place. but  when i read or see certain things i can’t help myself. and i will try now to talk about those things that really grab me. a good deal of this travel inspiration comes from roadjunky.com and hitchwiki.org.

first up: Iran. i am so crazy excited to go there.

as a warm up you can read this: http://www.roadjunky.com/guide/382/iran-travel-guide-online

and/or this: http://hitchwiki.org/en/Iran

so there are a lot of things people say about Iran. a lot of this is bullshit, but some things are true, and these are some of the various facts that have made the biggest impressions on me: 

no alcohol, no dancing, no women singing (although they can play an instrument), no hosting foreigners (although people often break this rule, and i am counting on them to do so), no facebook. also i find the idea of temporary marriages ridiculous (temporary marriages are exactly that - temporary. both parties agree on the period of the marriage and the compensation to the women, and men can have as many of these as they like. of course, women can’t have more than one of these at a time.

moving away from all of the laws, i have heard, and also found through my own experience, that the people are among the world leaders in being kind, polite, and hospitable. Iran is the kind of place where it is impossible to go hungry, and it is especially important to be good to travellers and foreigners. 

with all these laws telling you what not to do, especially considering how the islamic government hijacked a perfectly liberal revolution, there has been a radical change of perspective among the young people. in Tehran and Esfahan, the largest cities, most of the youth aren’t interested in religion and oil, but are instead interested in changing their world. i assumed young, modern, liberal iranians would want to get the hell out, because that is what i feel i would want. but they don’t want to leave, despite, and perhaps partly because of, all of the restricting laws and the imposing military. in a way, they are defined by what confines them. that brings them together. it is hard to leave when there is so much to be done to change things. so there are these tightly knit communities that are forced to express themselves underground, whether by drinking, dancing, and having parties in their houses, or by meeting in a series of ever changing cafes to discuss how they will protest against the government and educate the people around them. Iran has always had a very highly educated middle class, and that is still true, many young people speak excellent english and have a good idea about the world and what is in it. these middle class youth are the agents of change now.

I am lucky enough to have friends that are a part of this culture, and i am really excited to go and see their world.

another country i can’t wait to see is Georgia. their government has been on a strong path toward modernisation for a while now, and there is a huge english teaching initiative (Teach and Learn with Georgia) that also has the side effect of bringing in thousands of english speakers. 

there is one story that i find really exciting: the georgian traffic police force used to be very corrupt, treating the roads as their personal piggy bank. eventually the government issued an ultimatum: stop the bribery or i will fire everybody. it didn’t stop, and the government made good on their promise. about 30,000 officers were fired, from the top down. for about three months the entire country lived without traffic police. then they restructured everything about the force. one of these changes was a rule about foreigners, and now, whenever you feel in danger, you can ask a police officer to drive you anywhere in a 140km radius, for free. all you need to do is fill out a form.

so this is a country which is performing a radical experiment. they are doing everything they can to modernise themselves, and make their country more accessible. i would like to see how well it is working. also i have heard it is a really beautiful country, with amazing people.

a location i am fascinated by is Lake Baikal in Russia, the world’s oldest and deepest lake. two thirds of the plants and animals that live there are unique to the lake. it is so clear, you can see the bottom 40 metres down. it will still be very cold though, even during the summer, so i don’t know how much i will be able to interact with the lake. but whatever, i am nerd for these kinds of things.

i have always wanted to go to the mongolian steppes. i have these visions of me standing in the middle of a deserted road, seeing only empty plains in every direction, with nothing but my guitar to keep my company. i actually think that this picture will be quite easy to realise.

One of the biggest and most expensive side trips i am going to make is from China to South Korea and Japan (with ferries).

bizarrely enough, i became much more excited about going to SK after spending time in Seoul-Incheon airport during my layovers to and from NZ. it was by far the best airport i have had the pleasure of spending time in. free showers, computers, smoking rooms that were not disgusting, water fountains everywhere. and the workers were amazingly polite and genuine. and the cultural centres! you could go and make (and keep!) traditional crafts, watch concerts, and play traditional games. it was great, actually.

i usually hate airports, but this one i can support.

and Japan. even with the current radioactive state of affairs, i feel like my time spent there will be some of the most rewarding of the entire trip. Diego, a friend i met at the hitchhikers gathering in Portugal, wrote a fair bit about hitchhiking there, and made it sound wonderful - http://hitchwiki.org/en/Japan.

I think i might create a part two for this post later on.

Notes:

  1. gunshotsandfireworks posted this

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