This is an edited version of “From the ancient Persia to Islamic republic of Iran: The land of Mystery” for First Exploration. It was first published on the blog Hitchhiking World Traveler.
You can not find hitchhiking in Farsi’s vocabulary (official language in Iran). Hitchhiking is a concept that most of Iranians don’t knows about.
I think the most difficult part of traveling through Iran was the language barrier. Few locals spoke English and the hitchhiking concept remains unknown. With the public transportation ridiculously cheap, thumbing up in Iran seems like a dumb thing you would do. Though, I traveled through this big country (the 18th largest country in the world) solely by hitchhiking, which makes me understand more about the local population and this mysterious country.
Known as Persia until 1935, ever since the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran, with media’s splash and the Iran-Iraq war. Millions of terrorist attack happened in the Middle East and around the world. It makes Iran a fearful country to visit for most of the people around the world.When I tell people I have traveled in Iran, people look at me incredulously and admirably like I am a soldier who have survived the world war II.
However Iran is not a dangerous country to visit, there are police check points everywhere. If you are traveling on the road, roughly every 50 to 100 kilometer there is one of them. They stop cars, check their ID and ask them where are they going. I was checked by Iranian polices quite a few times. Though, you are more likely impressed by the hospitality and curiosity from the locals around you.
During my one month of traveling through Iran, I have never used in my tent. Each single night, I slept in local’s house, even if it is forbidden for locals to host a foreigner.
It happened to me very often that the driver who gave me a ride would invite me to have lunch or dinner or something to eat in his house, so I would meet his family (like his wife, children, parents, siblings and neighbors), and then he would insist that I stay overnight.
I have to say Iranian are extremely curious about foreigners, but because of the islamic regime, it is definitely not a top tourist destination for most of the people in the world. Iran is also a close country that most of the countries would need a visa to visit it which is still quite tricky to apply for. That notably is there are very few tourists and travelers.
Many times when I met local Iranians, they usually told me that I was the first foreigner they have ever met in their life. However meeting the Iranians gave me desire to apply for the VISA. Needless to say, there are tons of stuff you can visit in this amazing country.
By Sirus Lin, from Taiwan