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Isn't Iran too dangerous?

Isn't Iran too dangerous?

It's a question I've been asked countless times and with a sense of naivety and ignorance I usually say, “Nah, its fine. It's the media that makes it out to be terrible.” In truth, I had absolutely no idea.

I had done some research but I didn't know anyone that had been there and most of the people telling me I was mad, were people who don't much care for travelling. Advice from travel forums was simple — leave your preconceptions at home and depart open minded.

As it was, I arrived on the Turkey/Iran border unsure of what to expect. It was 45 degrees and I was wearing a full length shirt and long trousers. It was stifling! After a four-hour wait in customs, we were finally interviewed.

We were then grilled with questions about where we were going, who we are meeting with and why. I could hardly tell them that I was going into their country to raise awareness of child trafficking. We said we're tourists. Once I got through, I was excited to see my dad and Daniel's (my travel companion) dad waiting on the other side of the border.

After a jubilant reunion, we found out that our fathers had spent the night in a prison for accidentally crossing the border! Luckily for them, they met someone who could speak English and they negotiated their release.

Before long, I found myself in the middle of a desert with no phonetic alphabet signs — only Arabic. Everything is completely foreign despite having been on the road for three months immersing myself in different cultures.

After being in Iran for about a week I had never felt more positive about a country. The Iranians have proven to be deeply warm, hospitable people who are largely misunderstood due to Western media reports and misinformation on Muslim society.

They are desperate to be seen for who they really are. Every night we were offered food, accommodation and assistance. We even asked a couple of 14 year old kids to help top up our phone credit. They walked into a shop, topped it up with their own money and then told us not to worry about paying them back! What teenager would do that at home?

It's early days and I still have a lot of Iran to experience but many of my inhibitions have disappeared already and I'm pumped at the thought of what still lies ahead!

~ Tim

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User comments
I too have noticed the discrepency between media coverage and real events. Friends of mine backpacked through the Middle East at the height of the war in Afghanistan and reported back that the sense of hospitality would put the world, rightly enough, to shame. Great story and hope all continues to go well
Just like when I went to East Timor a couple of years ago sometimes you just have to jump on a plane and do it. I'm not suggesting taking stupid risks (you only live once after all) but if you do a bit of your own research you are often fine. People asked me if I was worried and I pointed out that it was years since there had been any dramas and the trip turned out great. In the case of Iran it's probably no surprise that the locals turned out to be great. It's long been the case that the people of Iran are wonderfully friendly and warm it's just that they are ruled by nutjobs.
It's a darn shame that these wonderful people are pre-judged in the west, all because of an incredibly biased media machine. The majority of people are nice, regardless of where they live

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