Getting Stranded in Iran (And My Adventures) – Country #100

I had always wanted to make Iran my 100th country. This is because I grew up with so many really good Iranian friends. I just thought it would make my 100th country extra special. However, several obstacles were present. Obstacles such as the funds needed to go to Iran, getting the VISA, booking the flight there using points, and how I was going to fit it into my second one-year trip around the world.

VIDEO – Getting Stranded in Iran (And My Adventures) – Country #100

Iran VISA

The first obstacle was getting the VISA to Iran. After doing some thorough research, it seems the best company to get a VISA approved easily for Iran is TAP Persia or Keys2Persia. After doing inquiries with both companies, I found that TAP Persia was more responsive. I ended up paying 29.96 Euros ($45.08) for TAP Persia to get the letter of approval to get a VISA on arrival. I had to use my Philippine passport as the Canadian one would have taken much longer to get approved. As you know, Iran and Canada are not on good terms. Tourism to Iran is still possible for Canadians but the approval process for the VISA is much more lengthy.

Within 3 business days, my VISA approval came through and I started to inquire with the company about their tour packages.

Tour packages for Iran

I booked my flight to Iran using my ANA Airlines points and Aeroplan points. My flight to Iran was from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (where I was setting up my home base during my second one of my one-year trip) going to Seoul, Korea, and Istanbul both with Asiana Airlines flight (highly recommended for economy flights). The flight back was supposed to be from Istanbul to Bangkok. Followed by from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh with Thai Airways.

As I spoke with the TAP Persia, they recommended I fly to Tehran. But, fly out of Shiraz. This is so I can see more of the country without having to backtrack. I then used my Aeroplan points to book a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Tehran. This is followed by a Turkish Airlines flight from Shiraz to Istanbul.

Because I had 4 nights and 5 days in Iran, I was offered two tour options. Tour option 1 is where I directly go to Isfahan upon landing in Tehran. Then, sightseeing in Isfahan and Shiraz with sights along the way. Tour option 2 is sightseeing Tehran on the first day. Then, doing a night drive to Isfahan. The rest of the trip is the same as tour option 1. I went with tour option 1 as I wanted to do the drive to Isfahan during the day. This is because I heard the landscape is beautiful. This turned out to be a wonderful decision.

Exhausting transit to Iran

My flight from Ho Chi Minh to Seoul was already going to be a brutal one. It’s going to be one of those horrible red-eye flights starting from 12:50 am. This flight is arriving in South Korea early in the morning.

This is followed by a 12-hour flight to Istanbul. Asiana Airlines was an excellent airline to fly with. But, despite the 12-hour-long flight, you can only sleep so much in a plane and your immune system would definitely suffer.

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By the time I arrived in Istanbul, I booked an airport hotel. I will be staying here for 7 hours before flying out again at around 3:30 am going to Tehran.

It was around 6:40 am by the time I arrived in Tehran and I was not feeling very good.

Day 1: Arrival in Tehran, Iran

Upon arrival, I went to immigration and I was told I needed to go to the VISA on arrival office to pay for my VISA. I went around looking for it but couldn’t find it. When I tried to ask an airport official for help, he just scolded me and told me “This is Iran, we speak Farsi or Turkish here, not English”. Okay great, this guy isn’t very helpful. After much exploration, I eventually found the VISA on arrival office.

It took about 20 mins to process my documents. A payment of $65 USD from the friendly Iranian staff members was required. I then went through immigration again. Shortly after, I left the gate to meet with my guide. Upon exiting the gate, I was approached by several Iranians asking me to exchange my money. I declined all of them. I noticed my tour guide wasn’t here so I asked a local for help contacting my guide. Eventually, the local called the guide with their phone and my guide met up with me.

My guide was surprised I arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule. He joked that the pilot must have an Iranian girlfriend that he was in a rush to see. He helped me set up my Iranian SIM card which was part of the tour package and exchanged $50 USD for Iranian Rials.

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Road trip from Tehran, Iran airport to Fin Garden in Kashan

As we were driving to Fin Garden, I noticed my tour guide was coughing a lot. He was wearing a mask and he told me he might be a little sick. But, he is wearing a mask to make sure I don’t get anything from him. We eventually arrived in Fin Garden. He then explained the importance of this location.

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The explanation was really thorough and quite informative. For example, he told me the history of the swastika. He said before Nazi Germany turned it into something bad, the Iranians were using it to symbolize the four elements (Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth). Ebi told me that each corner of the broken cross symbolized those four elements.

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He also told me that Fin Garden is a Persian style of architecture. This style is seen in many major sites around the world. Fin Garden is also a UNESCO World Heritage site with amazing ancient engineering where the water fountain was created without any electricity. 

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Despite Fin Garden being quite interesting, I was freezing cold. When my plane to Tehran was landing, I noticed snow was everywhere in Iran. I realized then I was not well equipped for this weather. 

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This was made worse by the fact that my guide was coughing a lot. He probably has some sort of illness. We were both shivering in Fin Garden when he was explaining to me about the site.

Road trip from Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran to Isfahan

The rest of the drive to Isfahan was interesting as the driver was telling me about his history with other tourists. He was telling me he had two tourists like me who were both Chinese from Canada that was a couple and how the girl treated the boyfriend like shit the entire time they were on tour making him hold her purse and bossing him around. He also told me how Iran is a choke artist when it comes to sports, especially football, and how they always lose in crucial moments.

The tour guide was definitely amusing and I enjoyed his candid conversation with me. The landscape between Tehran and Isfahan was also beautiful and I was glad to do this drive during the day.

My first day in Isfahan, Iran

Upon arriving in Isfahan, I checked into my hotel which is called Karbat Hotel. Part of what I paid for this tour is two two-night stay in this accommodation with breakfast included. I said goodbye to Ebi (his name is Ibrahim) and gave him an elbow bump because he was sick and didn’t want to give me anything. It’s probably too late at this point and I did get something from him.

He recommended a restaurant for me to eat in and the front desk staff also pointed out a location where I could buy a jacket since it’s so cold in Iran (it was -2 Celsius when I arrived).

I ended up eating one of the most delicious foods I’ve ever eaten called Chelo Khoresht Bademjan Ba Gosht in a restaurant called Namakdan Mansion. It was so good I literally inhaled it with much delight within a few minutes. Iran definitely has the #1 food in all the Middle East countries. This restaurant has seriously good food and I went back there again several times. They also had fire pits all over the restaurant to keep me warm while I was eating. This was great because I had chills at this point.

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After eating, I went to a local shopping centre but they only sold women’s clothing there and I was unable to buy a jacket.

I knew I was definitely sick because I felt so weak and I had chills. I don’t know if I have COVID or the flu or something else but decided to do whatever it takes to get better that night because I have a full-day tour the next day (I later discovered I got the flu).

Suffering in Isfahan

That night, I decided to just rest and try and 15 hours of sleep to really prepare me for the next day and to recover. I even popped a melatonin to help me get a deeper sleep. The melatonin did help as I was able to get some sleep. However, the entire night, I was delirious. I kept waking up as my head was spinning and I was feeling awful the entire time. 

Although I suffered the entire night, by the time it was 7 am the next day, I noticed that my fever had broken. Hurray! Right?

Nope, as soon as I got up, a river of blood started uncontrollably gushing out of my nose. It’s so dry in Iran and I tend to get nosebleeds in dry climates.

Before flying to Iran, I was also suffering from food poisoning in Vietnam and still had a little bit of it left when I was in Isfahan. I’m not quite out of the woods yet but I have a feeling I’m in the tail end of it now.

Day 2: Exploring Isfahan, Iran

Breakfast

I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The food was decent as I ate eggs, potatoes, beans, sausages, biscuits, a cupcake, orange juice, and tea. 

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After breakfast, my new tour guide for Isfahan told me she brought me a jacket I could borrow which was really nice of her.

Isfahan Cultural Tour

My tour guide’s name is Mahanaz and she was definitely very informative and fun to talk to. Our tour started by visiting a place called Naghesh e Jahan which is this famous square in Isfahan. She explained the importance of this location and how during the Iranian New Year which is in late April, this area is full to the brim with people and it’s hard to move around. 

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Museum of Islamic Heritage

We then went into the Museum of Islamic Heritage also called Jame Abbasi Mosque which cost 1,000,000 Rials to enter and she explained how this place is facing towards the Mecca which is the most important place in the Islam religion.

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She also showed me a chamber in this place with an ancient microphone as anyone who stands in the middle of the room will automatically have their voice echo. In ancient times, speeches were often done in this location as well as songs sung by singers.

Chehel Soton Palace

Next, went to a location called Chehel Soton Palace which is probably the most picturesque site I’ve seen so far in Isfahan. The entry fee to this location is 1,000,000 Rials. This location was used by the ancient rules to entertain foreign rulers as a show of power and to impress.

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This site was beautiful and I can see why it’d be the perfect place to show off your kingdom’s beauty. 

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Qeysarieh

Next, we went to the entrance of the bazaar and explored the market a bit. Mahanaz also took me to this local place to try some Iranian tea which was nice. It also came with sweets and two kinds of sugar.

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Rushing back to my hotel room

After exploring Qeysarieh, I felt like something was off and I asked the guide if we could head back to the hotel. Upon returning to my hotel room, my nose started bleeding like crazy again and it took me about 20 minutes for it to subside. I was also experiencing some side effects from recovering from food poisoning in Vietnam as I experienced some stomach aches at this point. I also started coughing a little bit so I went to dig up my lozenges from my luggage.

After about 30 minutes, I was okay again and we went to grab lunch at Namakdan Mansion. This time, I ate lamb with rice and some ginger tea while Mahanaz had chicken with rice. My food was good but not as good as the day before. I think the eggplant from the day before made a huge difference in how well the lamb tasted. Our meal cost 7,500,000 Rials.

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Mahanaz is a kind person as she gave her leftover food to a poor Iranian old man in Naghesh e Jahan.

International Museum and Cafe Gallery

Our next stop is the International Museum and Cafe Gallery. The entrance to this location is 2,000,000 Rials. Included in the fee is tea which me and Mahanaz enjoyed at this beautiful scenic balcony on top of the museum. The museum also showed the historical relationship of Iran with other nations such as Russia and Armenia.

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Vank Cathedral Tourist Complex

After finishing up with all the touristy spots in Naghesh e Jahan, Mahanaz used her rideshare app called SNAPP and we got a ride going to the Armenian Quarter of Isfahan located south of the river.

Interestingly, one of the rulers of Iran knew that the path to success and growth of the country is better relations with Armenia. He then offered for Armenians to settle in this area and even allowed them to construct a church as long as it was not nice looking outside so as not to outshine the local religion.Iran

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His gamble paid off as the Armenians brought with them the first printing press in Iran brought from all the way from the Britain. They also brought with them culture, trade, and many other benefits.

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The most impressive part of this cathedral is this piece of hair from an 18-year-old girl with ancient inscriptions written using a very thin diamond. They didn’t have modern technology back then and it’s impressive to see this level of precision.

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Conversations with Mahanaz about Iran

The entire tour with Mahanaz was filled with many thought-provoking conversations. We discussed many topics such as the political situation in Iran with the hijab protest. There’s many cameras all over Iran to monitor women to make sure they’re wearing a hijab. If restaurants or stores allow women to enter without wearing their hijab, they would get punished forcing the locals to enforce the law on behalf of the government.

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We also discussed the corruption of all governments including ancient Iran where they were anti-LGBTQ, alcohol, and dancing but behind closed doors, many of them were in fact in a gay or lesbian relationship, drinking alcohol, and enjoying dancing.

We discussed the relationship between men and women in Iran and how holding hands and dating is very common nowadays and people even move in together before marriage which is technically illegal but everyone is doing it. 

Part of our discussion also involved religion and how many Iranian women would follow the rules in Iran but when they travel outside, they would wear shorts and not put on their hijab.

Mahanaz also said she worked as an architect which is difficult for women in Iran as they’re not taken as seriously as men and she had to work 3 times harder than men to get the same pay even if she was equal or better than them.

Ending my second day in Isfahan

I ended my day in Isfahan by grabbing a bite at Namakdan Mansion again. This time, I had the lamb stew with rice and salad. For drinks, I had saffron tea with honey and lemon.

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It was starting to get really cold again and since I had returned the jacket back to Mahanaz, I rushed back to my hotel just wearing my hoodie. By the time I came back to my hotel, I noticed that I do feel a lot better on this day than the previous and I’m so glad I slept a lot and let my fever break allowing me to enjoy the day to see and learn more about Isfahan and Iranian history in general.

Day 3: Road trip from Isfahan to Shiraz, Iran

Breakfast Betting

In the morning, I went downstairs to grab breakfast before the big road trip between Isfahan and Shiraz. As I was grabbing food in the hotel’s dining area, the local Iranians were looking at me curiously. Suddenly, one of them approaches me and asks me where I’m from. I told him about the Philippines (since I was born there). He then goes back to all the Iranians and reports his findings and they are all dumbfounded. 

The man goes back to me and says, they think you are Chinese. I told them I am Chinese by blood but was born in the Philippines. He then goes back to all the other Iranians to report his new findings and they are all happy to find that they are correct in their guess.

I’m literally a show here in Iran as in the last few days here, so many people are guessing or asking me where I’m from. The funniest was the day before when a little girl came up to me and asked me if I am Chinese. I told her yes. She then proceeds to tell me she can speak Chinese. Then I replied by saying I can’t. The little girl looked so confused so my tour guide had to explain to her and her parents that I’m Chinese but born in the Philippines. It’s fun times here in Iran.

Isfahan to Pasargarde, Iran

The first part of our road trip to Shiraz is to go to Pasagarde, the location of the Tomb of Cyrus the Great. During the road trip, Mahanaz provided snacks for us to eat which included bananas, mandarin orange, and mixed nuts. She also knows I like rap music so she started playing some Iranian rap music for me to check out which was awesome.

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During the road trip, I also shared the music I listened to in Canada including some of my favourite rap, hip hop, R&B, techno, EDM, house, and chill music. It was nice exchanging music from each other’s culture.

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I also learned that Iranian women are not allowed to produce songs in Iran so they have to go to another country to make them. Mahanaz also shared with me some music made by Iranian women from Germany which was pretty good. The best music is this rock music made by this Iranian man searching for love. The chorus was definitely catchy.

Tomb of Cyrus

Upon reaching Pasagarde, the location of Cyrus the Great, I paid the entrance fee which was 1,000,000 Rials. Mahanaz started to explain how archeologists think Cyrus the Great was actually buried on the lid of the tomb to avoid tomb robbers. However, when the tomb was scanned by archeologists, there was nothing inside the lid as well.

The body of Cyrus the Great is missing. According to Mahanaz, Alexander the Great respected Cyrus the Great so he didn’t want to steal his body and ordered his men to return it to the tomb. However, when the Arabs invaded Persia, no one knew the result of their invasion. To this day, the location of the body of Cyrus the Great is still missing.

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Necropolis

The next location we visited was the Necropolis. This place looks very much identical to Petra as the tomb of Darius, Darius 2nd, Artaxerxes, and Xerxes was carved into the wall.

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Darius is famous because of the construction of his area in the former capital of Persia in Persepolis while Xerxes and Artaxerxes are famous for being very aggressive at invading other nations. According to Mahanaz, one very probable reason Alexander the Great invaded Persia was because Xerxes invaded Greece first as seen in the movie 300. While the movie 300 is not an accurate depiction of events that took place during the Xerxes invasion, the invasion did occur nonetheless.

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This invasion caused enmity towards Persia by the Greeks and eventually resulted in the invasion of Alexander the Great. History is fucking awesome.

Persepolis

The last area we visited on the drive towards Shiraz was the famous former capital city of the Persian empire, Persepolis. This area was really nice as Mahanaz described how Darius took more pride in building his area in the city and used the finest stone while Artaxerxes just used whatever was available in the area. From what’s left of the archeological site, it’s clear that the attention to detail that Darius took to construct his area yielded better results as his section is much better preserved than Artaxerxes. 

Mahanaz also explained that Persia had something similar to the Chinese zodiac with the animals. She told me she’s the year of the tiger and I mentioned if that means she’s aggressive. 

Funny banter aside, we went to the restaurant at the base of Persepolis to meet up with Mahanaz’s friend who is another tour guide. We went to grab a bite to eat and her friend shockingly looks like one of my Iranian friends in Canada. He did get annoyed at me when I told him I was thinking that future Iran might want to put hotels on top of the hill overlooking Persepolis for a very nice view. I think he was thinking this idea is sacrilege but I thought it was funny. This cannot happen because it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Shiraz

My day ended when Mahanaz dropped me off at Shiraz which is not too far from Persepolis. The traffic in Shiraz was starting to get bad but Mahanaz said it would be a lot worst if we arrived 30 minutes later.

We said our warm goodbyes and I thanked her for being a wonderful guide as I got settled in my very interesting accommodation.

Click here to go to Mahanaz’s Instagram if you’d like to hire her as your guide when travelling to Iran.

Day 4: Exploring Shiraz

Breakfast of champions Iran version

At breakfast, I was served with this massive meal of delicious Iranian food goodness. This country hands down has the best food in the Middle East. There is no competition.

While I was eating my breakfast, this Iranian couple approached me and asked me where I was from. I told them the Philippines and they told me they were planning on going to El Nido and Coron but the price tag of $2000 USD for flights and hotel was too steep for them. I told them to book the flights and accommodations themselves because it’s definitely a lot cheaper since the Philippines is not an expensive country.

The couple then recommended for me to eat the local dish called Kalampolo which is rice with cabbage and meatballs. My guide for Shiraz whose name is Moji also came to the hotel around the same time during breakfast and I told him about Kalampolo and he told me for lunch, he would take me to a restaurant that has really good Kalampolo without the expensive price of the restaurant the couple recommended which is called Parhami Traditional House.

Nasiralmulk Mosque

Our first destination of the day is Nasiralmulk Mosque which is arguably the most famous site in Iran and not for good reasons. It’s a haven for those who like to teach Instagram photos because of the cool lighting effect the mirrors in the mosque have. I was jokingly telling the guide that the new name of this place is the Instagram Mosque.

As I was entering this mosque, Moji told me it cost 1,000,000 Rials to enter and to pay the cashier with cash. I looked at the cashier area and there’s a sign that says “NO CASH”. I told it to Moji and he started laughing and told the cashier, the reason why they’re not getting more tourists here is because of this sign. The cashier looked dumbfounded and started ripping the sign off right away.

Upon entering the mosque, the reputation of this place was very true. Inside was full of Russian and Chinese female tourists taking tons of Instagram photos with the lighting effect with different poses.

I also took some pictures here but nothing dramatic like these women.

Walking the streets of Shiraz

As Moji and I were walking on the streets of Shiraz, he explained to me that the area we were in was poor and locals buy used appliances from these second-hand repair shops. The second-hand repair shops buy broken appliances and repair them to sell them back to people for a profit.

Shiraz Naranjestan Museum

The next spot we visited was the Shiraz Naranjestan Museum which cost 1,000,000 Rials. This place has tons of orange-like fruits. From what I remember, this place was owned by a wealthy Iranian family from 1879. It has since been purchased by Shiraz University to better maintain this site which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It’s a very beautiful place showcasing Iranian architecture from the 1800s. We also listened to songs sung by a local musician and my guide purchased an engraving for himself as a souvenir.

I enjoyed the view before we moved on to our next location.

Karimkhan Zand Citadel

Our next destination is the Karimkhan Zand Citadel which costs 1,000,000 Rials to enter. This location is the citadel created by the ruler Karim Khan also known to the locals as the King who was very close to his people as he was very hands-on when it came to daily affairs and working all day as opposed to just staying in his palace.

This citadel eventually became a prison which was a bad idea as the prisoners started stripping the gold and ceramic art of this place in exchange for money or favour from the prison guards.

I found the history to be pretty neat and admired the ruler who actually did work instead of just talking but doing nothing.

Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazaar

Our next stop is the Vakil Mosque which was just a quick stop to take pictures. There’s an entrance fee of 1,000,000 Rials but you can actually take all the pictures at the entrance and there was no point entering.

We then moved to the Vakil Bath and Moji explained to me the usage of this place which was not limited to just taking a bath. It was also used for getting a massage, getting your teeth pulled, and scrubbing off dead skin.

We then walked through the Vakil Bazaar to grab lunch.

Lunch at Anahita Traditional House

For lunch, I ordered the Kalampolo as recommended by the locals while my guide Moji ordered a variety of kebabs with rice and butter and an orange Canada Dry soda. 

During lunch, we chatted about our mutual hate for cockroaches since I flew from Vietnam before going to Iran. I told him about mutant-size cockroaches in Vietnam and he was grossed out and told me he had cockroaches crawl on his face as a kid and he was traumatized ever since. He told me that old houses in Iran have big cockroaches but he actually finds the smaller ones to be more annoying as they’re hard to get rid of.

Later on after lunch, he even showed me locations in the streets of Iran where he said lots of cockroaches live in.

I paid 6,100,000 Rials for both our lunches.

Before driving to our next location, Moji picked up some curtains from a store in the bazaar telling me the traffic is horrendous in Shiraz and that if he didn’t pick them up now and give them to his mom, it would be a nightmare to get it later on. Traffic and parking in Shiraz are indeed horrible.

Green Shrine

After lunch, our next destination is the Green Shrine. This place looks like a mosque and it is definitely a place of prayer but the reason it’s a shrine is it’s also a tomb of Shah Cherish. There’s no entrance fee to this place.

Upon entering, Moji needed to use the washroom and advised me to take pictures and photos of the outer area while I waited. 

After taking some pictures and videos, a guy working at the tourism office notices me and advises me to follow him inside the office. I cautiously followed as I didn’t know this guy but he seemed friendly. Upon entering, his co-worker greeted me which is a friendly woman and they both asked me where I was from.

After telling them I’m from the Philippines, the man started sharing stories of when he used to work at the oil refineries in Iran and working with Filipinos. I also told them that Iran has the best Middle East food and they were very excited to hear my story. They then offered me tea and coffee as I waited for my guide.

Upon the return of Moji, we entered the Green Shrine was is a very beautiful place inside and he pointed out the tomb. This shrine also separates the genders and there’s a men’s side and women’s side. Finally, shoes are not allowed in this place so we had to take off our footwear at the entrance.

Hafez Tomb

The last location we visited on the tour of Shiraz is the Tomb of Hafez. 

Hafez is a famous poet in Iran and his writings are well known in the country. This place was also full of students going on their field trips and being herded by the teacher and principal.

Apparently, lots of local artists come here at night to gain inspiration they can use for their art believing the essence of Hafez is here and the energy of this tomb will transfer creative ideas to them.

Our tour ended here and Moji dropped me off at my hotel shortly after to get some rest before my flight that same evening.

Day 5: Stranded in Iran

I was supposed to fly out of Iran on this day. My guide, Moji took me to the airport only to find out that my flight did not exist.

I got scared at the thought of being stranded in Iran as I had little funds left and ATMs in Iran don’t work with foreign debit cards.

After doing some investigation, Moji spoke to security personnel who revealed that my Turkish Airlines flight from Shiraz to Istanbul was cancelled a few days ago. Unfortunately, because I booked my flight with Air Canada’s Aeroplan, I did not get any notification because Air Canada sucks and this is the 3rd time they’ve done this to me.

My guide then took me back to my accommodation as we brainstormed our way out of Iran.

Options to fly out of Iran

After doing some research, my guide determined that there are two ways out of Iran for me. The first is to take a flight from Shiraz to Tehran. I’ll only have 2 hours to take a taxi from the domestic terminal airport to the international terminal. Upon reaching the international terminal, my guide was going to loan me 450 Euros to purchase a ticket with Turkish Airlines flying to Istanbul which is just enough time to catch my flight going to Bangkok and eventually back to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

The second option is to book my flight from Shiraz to Dubai. Upon arriving in the UAE when I have internet access again, I can use my Aeroplan account to book a flight going back to Ho Chi Minh.

After speaking with my girlfriend, I realized that the best option is to forget about my flight going from Istanbul to Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh and just go to Dubai and find a flight back from there.

I informed Moji of the plan of action and he was kind enough to purchase the flight for me with Qeshm Airlines, a local Iranian carrier, going from Shiraz to Dubai. He paid about $200 USD. I told him I’ll pay him back as soon as I can.

Argo moment

If you’ve seen the movie Argo with Ben Affleck. In the movie, he helped some stranded Americans fly out of Iran with a fake Canadian passport. That was the feeling I got when I was going through security at the Shiraz airport.

I used my Philippine passport to enter Iran but to go to Dubai, I would need to present my Canadian passport as it’s the only way they’d let me board my flight. Dubai doesn’t require Canadians to get a VISA ahead of time while the Philippine passport is required to do so.

The check-in counter staff took both my passports. And, they checked with the officials whether I’d be allowed to board the plane or not. After what felt like an eternity, the staff gave me back both my passports. They also issued my boarding pass as I was cleared to board my flight.

Shiraz to Dubai

I waited passed security for the flight to depart while speaking with some locals. The locals recommended I use the remaining of my Rials to purchase some chocolates and snacks as a souvenir which I happily did.

Another local was excited to hear that I was originally from the Philippines. He immediately added me to Instagram as he said he personally lived there for 15 years himself. He told me he feels like the Philippines is more of his home than Iran.

Eventually, we boarded the flight and after 50 minutes, we landed in Dubai.

Dubai to Bahrain to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh

Upon landing in Dubai, I had excellent internet access available again. Immediately, I booked my flight from Dubai to Bahrain to Singapore with Gulf Air. And a Singapore Airlines flight going from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh.

My flight was in business class as it was the only redemption available. This turned out to be a blessing. I was able to get 5 hours of sleep between the Bahrain to Singapore flight. I really needed that sleep as I’d been awake for 24 hours when I initially got stranded in Iran.

Luckily, Singapore is a very organized airport. Despite only having a 1 hour and 30-minute connecting time, I was able to get my last boarding pass from the transfer counter. And, I arrived back in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam before long.

Conclusion

Iran is an amazing country with amazing people. I will definitely go back again one day in the distant future. I say distant future because travelling to Iran during the sanctions makes the whole experience a pain in the ass. Not to mention more expensive.

Iran also has the best Middle Eastern food I’ve ever eaten and any foodie lover would love visiting this country. I personally enjoyed the archeological sites. When I do return one day, I want to try adventure travel in Iran. I think doing some hiking, camping, and snorkelling would be really fun in this country.

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1 thought on “Getting Stranded in Iran (And My Adventures) – Country #100”

  1. Susana and I did a similar trip using our Hong Kong passports. We enjoyed the 6 day Iran tour a lot as well.

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