Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh, one more thing: maybe not Iran

When I've been telling people about my route, they always comment on Bhutan (enthusiastically) and Iran (somewhat less so).

My reasons, it is now clear to me, were twofold: about 20% to get the word out that Iranians are normal reasonable good people too, and about 80% to have the satisfaction of "proving", to a few relatives, that Iranians are normal reasonable good people too. So I've got about 20% of a good reason to go. (also to see amazing buildings history food and all the other stuff; so 1.2 good reasons to go.)

Unfortunately, there are a number of good reasons for me not to go to Iran, and note that "terrorists will kill you" is not one of them.

  • It'd cost me about $1200, not counting airfare, for the group tour I picked (you have to go with a group or a guide)
  • It's a group tour
  • It's a sightseeing tour
  • A lot of shenanigans like "you can't bring laptops in the country" and "there are no ATMs" make planning a bit difficult
  • Recent embassy stormings are less than awesome for tourists I guess
  • And here is the new one: I heard that, apparently, going to Iran puts you directly on the US Terrorist Watch List? And your family too? For the record, our government is nuts. But while there's honor in organized civil disobedience, there's little honor in helping yourself get screwed by the system.
Thoughts? (I mean, besides my family; their thoughts I already know :)


  1. Dan,-- I vote don't go. When you get on the USA S*#&&-list you stay there forever. Just not worth it. Besides, you can go back after the USA attacks them and makes them a democracy.

    Joe Pursglove

  2. Anti-West sentiment is high; the latest:
    No one disputes that many Iranians are normal, reasonable good people, or that their government is insane.
    For whatever reason, not going would be a Christmas present.

  3. Mr. T: But at what point in the last 50 years would you have said that anti-West sentiment isn't high? What is it that you're afraid of? Iran suddenly deciding that they're finally so PO'ed at America that they're closing their borders and arresting all American tourists who are there? Yeah, it's possible, but it's pretty unheard-of.

    Joe: yeah, actually, those are two reasons that are what I'm afraid of. I kinda feel like it may be my last chance. And, right, getting on the USA &#*&$ list shouldn't be permanent, but given that it is, seems smarter not to.

    And the Official US &#*( list is frustratingly opaque! I can't tell if going to Iran would put me on it or not, other than word of mouth from someone that someone knows.

  4. I was a little naive about all this, but there is only one place among all your destinations that has a travel warning (you've been in three under Travel Alerts), and that's this one.
    This is their definition:

    Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

    The US asks you not to go there for non-essential reasons.

    I've always wondered why Americans stay in such a designated country. When a crisis happens, they are at the mercy of a very different kind of government, and there is little the US can do to help.

    To make it worse, you are traveling alone, and I'm afraid you would have a hard time explaining your purpose there. To risk that for the sake of a very controlled tour of national tourist spots seems out of character with the rest of your journey. JMHO.

  5. What kind of crisis? I'll be there with a tour guide; that's more security than I've had most anywhere else. If I had my things stolen here in India, for example, I'd have to sort it out on my own anyway. Crime, car accidents, etc can happen anywhere.

    I still don't have a lot of faith in the US Department of State warnings or alerts, as they tend to be overly broad or alarmist. Right now, for example, their list includes Kenya, Israel, and Mexico.

    As for my purpose there... what's wrong with tourism? I want to see Persepolis, the oldest city of Yazd, legendary Esfahan and Shiraz, and the world's largest market in Tehran.

    And I've been on a guided tour before, in Bhutan, and actually it was very cool. And might have been even better with a few more people in the group.