Iran was already in my bucket list since long time ago but I had no chance (and budget) to execute it yet. Rich of history and culture, beautiful landscape, and amazing architecture were among the main things that interest me about Iran. And Iranians are so nice. I have some Iranian friends when I was in Delft and their spirit to learn is impressive. In addition, Iran is quite famous in Indonesia for many reasons. Long story short, I was really intrigued to see this country.
From the internet, I learned that it is recommended to visit Iran with a group and a native tour guide. I took the suggestion, and successfully joined a group too!
Then first question came out, what is the best visa to enter Iran? From the embassy or just use Indonesian privilege to get it on arrival? Considering that we would be landing very early in the morning and possible long queue at the immigration, we chose to apply it from the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta. One of the trip participant knew someone at the embassy and he was more than happy to help :). I just handed over my passport with IDR 700,000 for administration fee.
I could say that I was really preparing myself for this trip. I contacted my Iranian friends and asked them anything that popped up in my head. I read Persian history, listened to Persian music, watched Iranian movies, learned about Iranian costumes, and so forth.
Eventually there was an addition to our excitement, we would also have a transit in Muscat, Oman! Oman was also in my bucket list, to be honest, but I never expected that I would visit Oman this sooner! Alhamdulillah.
And the D-day had come. Our flight would be in the evening, so I could go to work and then went to the airport. We would take a flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL), and spent a “Semalam in Malaysia” there. From KL, we would continue another to Muscat, Oman and spent a day to go around Muscat. From Muscat, we would fly to Tehran. Quite long, right? We were really on a tight budget, so that was the best thing to do 🙂
Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur
Finally, I met the other participants face-to-face. Previously we only had a chit-chat on a Whatsapp group. I tried my best to remember names and faces correctly. It was very obvious that my travel mates were highly experienced travelers. And I was quite sure that I was the youngest among them.
When we arrived at KL, it was quite late. So, as soon as I got my room, I fell asleep. The day after, we went to the airport with a shuttle bus from the hotel after having a nice breakfast.
Kuala Lumpur – Muscat
KL – Muscat was an 8-hour flight with Oman Air. My first impression with this airline was okay. The food was just okay. Everything was okay. Eventually, we were landing on Muscat.
To get out of the airport, we had to apply for a transit visa for USD 20. It was purchased at the money changer. You can bring the receipt and your passport to the immigration gate to collect your visit visa. The officer asked me a few questions about the stay. I answered that I just went for a visit for a couple of hours. Then he let me in. No forms or whatsoever!
Muscat is the capital city of Oman. I was impressed by this city. It was really clean! The infrastructure was excellent. The road, the building, and city planning was a bit more advanced than Jakarta, I would say. Of course this is based on a slight piece of the city that I went through J
We went first to Grand Masjid Sultan Qabus for Zhuhr and ‘Ashr prayers, subsequently followed by a series of photos session. The masjid was beautiful. The interior was detail and had its own philosophy. For ladies, you have to wear something to cover your hair, and please mind gender boundary. And you may not go into men territory. Every place has its own codes so we should learn to respect that.
Then we were heading to Muscat’s Opera House. Unfortunately, it was closed, and we just took the time to take some photos with the good-looking guard men J. Mind you, most of us were ladies….
Muscat Old City was the next destination. We spent some time to take some meals, bought some souvenirs, and strolling around the market. After Maghrib prayer time, off we went back to the airport.
Muscat – Tehran
Midnight, we flew to Tehran. I was just sleeping during the flight. We were served Persian food. Too sleepy, I just ignored it. Around 4 am, we landed on Tehran. The immigration gates were a bit busy at that time and alhamdulillah we already had the entry visa, and did not need to take some pain at the gate for the visa. Since I wanted to communicate with my friend in Tehran, I decided to buy a local SIM-card. The price was around IRR 200,000.
Then we were heading to Kashan, subsequently to Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Qom and back to Tehran.
I will continue to tell you about other cities in the next posts, InsyaAllah.
Tips and trick to visit Iran
- It is recommended to go with a group. Although Iranians are nice and welcome to tourists, language barrier is still there. Just in case something happens…
- If you have time to apply for visa beforehand (in case you need one), please do so. You’ll never know how the queue at the immigration will look like.
- Pepper spray is forbidden in Iran.
- If you find a souvenir or cute things to buy, just buy it right away. Maybe you will not find it anywhere else. It is better to be regret to buy something rather than not buy it.
- Iran is a four-season country. Please check the weather and pack your luggage accordingly.
- The country is a heaven for photography. Do not forget to take some shots.
- Reading some stuffs about Iran and Persia will be very helpful to understand about the landmarks or archeological sites. You will appreciate them more.
- For ladies, please dress modestly. Open shoulders or hot pants are definitely not good choice.
- Iranian women are not that comfortable to take picture with a male stranger although I found some ladies were totally fine with it. It is better to ask first.
OK, see you in more interesting stories about Iran!