Destination: Iran

Interview with Henry Rollins: Punk Rock World Traveler

Jim Benning asks the musician about his new book of photographs and how travel has humbled him

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My Hunch About Iran

On Iran's opposition movement and a letter from an Iranian-American

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Astara: ‘The Tijuana of the Caspian’

The Atlantic’s Peter Savodnik has a fascinating, brief dispatch from the Azerbaijan-Iran border, where a small Azerbaijani town has become a sort of Sin City for Iranians looking to escape the strictures of the Islamic Republic for awhile. He writes:

Books, DVDs, fashions, and—most important—ideas that are inaccessible in Iran are ubiquitous in Azerbaijan. Iranians line up daily to cross the Astara River to buy and sell jeans, chickens, bras, laptops—and often sex and schnapps and heroin. This commerce, combined with cultural curiosity and shared Azeri bloodlines, has transformed Astara into the Tijuana of the Caspian.

Slate Takes a Ramadan World Tour

Slate Takes a Ramadan World Tour Photo by tinou bao via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by tinou bao via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Writer Jason Rezaian has spent time in five different Muslim-majority countries—Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Iran and Turkey—during the annual month of fasting, and in a short essay he reflects on the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences in the ways each one celebrates their shared holy month.

Beef Noodles in Taiwan, With a Persian Twist

Beef Noodles in Taiwan, With a Persian Twist Photo by unicellular via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by unicellular via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I love a good tale of food cultures colliding—and this mouthwatering blog post from The Atlantic, about a Persian immigrant serving up his own brand of beef noodles in Taipei, certainly qualifies.

Here’s Davod Bagherzedh, the owner-chef of Laowai Yi Pin Niu Rou Mian (Translation: The Foreigner’s Bowl of Beef Noodles), on the key to his recipe:

“If I cooked them the traditional way, I could never compete with Taipei’s other stands, but if I make it with all Persian spices, I’d also have no business. So I import a spice from Iran called bahorat, a 12-spice mixture, and I add that to a blend of Chinese ingredients. It’s different, and people seem to love it.”

Three U.S. Travelers Detained in Iran

Apparently, they were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan and wandered over the poorly marked border. One of the three, Sarah Shourd, is a contributor over at Brave New Traveler.

Baez, Bon Jovi, Mike Scott: Which Iran Protest Song Is Right for You?

If you were a child of the ’60s, then perhaps it’s Joan Baez’s “We Shall Overcome.” If you came of age in the ’80s, then maybe it’s Jon Bon Jovi’s “Stand By Me,” which he recorded with Iranian exile Andy Madadian.

I’m a longtime fan of the Waterboys and their sometimes solo-recording frontman, Mike Scott, so I’m loving his tribute, which draws on the words of W.B. Yeats.

Which is your favorite? Any others we shouldn’t miss? Here they are:

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Travels in Tehrangeles

Travels in Tehrangeles Photo by Jim Benning

Los Angeles is home to an estimated half a million Iranian expatriates. On Monday, Jim Benning grabbed a camera and hit their streets.

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R.I.P. Neda Agha-Soltan

The woman who has become a symbol of Iran’s ongoing protests after her death was caught on video has been identified as Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, a student in Tehran. A tidbit from the compelling Los Angeles Times profile:

She took private classes to become a tour guide, including Turkish-language courses, friends said, hoping to someday lead groups of Iranians on trips abroad. Travel was her passion, and with her friends she saved up enough money for package tours to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

Travels in the ‘Real Iran’

Travels in the ‘Real Iran’ REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

On the intersection of place, politics and culture

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21st-Century Tehran in Seven Photos

Azadi Tower, Tehran, Iran Photo by th0mi, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Seven photos that provide an intimate look at the capital of Iran from a traveler's point of view

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Political Iran on Film

Foreign Policy has a timely list of movies “that have stirred the country’s politics over the years.” The selections span four decades, from the Shah’s day to the present, and could be great fodder for some armchair traveling—for this week, probably the only sort of travel that’s advisable to Iran.

Iran: Through the Eyes of Travelers

Iran: Through the Eyes of Travelers Photo by Shahram Sharif via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Shahram Sharif via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve spent the last couple days transfixed by events in Iran, where widespread protests and bursts of violence have followed a contested election result. The country’s hardly an American tourism hot spot (and this latest unrest won’t help on that front) but over the years, we’ve covered some travel-related Iranian ground. Here’s a look back:

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Photo We Love: Iran’s Controversial Election

Iran election: Mousavi supporter REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Twitter is abuzz with news of a rally in Tehran today in support of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. (You go, persiankiwi.) I loved this photo taken a few days ago in Tehran, before the election, of one of Mousavi’s supporters.

Finding Trouble in Asia: Let Us Count the Ways

Finding Trouble in Asia: Let Us Count the Ways Photo by kwanz via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Is it me, or has it been a surreal few months for Americans in Asia? Guidebook writers and State Department travel monitors, take note: a few new travel “don’ts” have entered the lexicon. To recap, here’s what we know not to do next time we journey East.

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