Kurdistan tours with Karwan
A few weeks before my trip to Iran I had already decided that I would visit Iraqi Kurdistan afterwards. However, I had no idea how to get around. Public transport is virtually non-existent outside of the cities and on top of this the tourism sector is not very well developed. Thus getting around outside the city would not be easy….
Luckily one taxi driver had the solution! His name is Karwan Wahed and this is his website. He is basically a taxi driver and an English-speaking guide at the same time.
Edge of the Soviet Union
The Stalin Line is the former border between the Soviet Union and the rest of Europe. Europe gave it this name, because Stalin heavily fortified the border during his reign. An enormous amount of bunkers and other military equipment can still be found scatttered along this line.
This line ran straight through Belarus. A large amount of equpment was left behind after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Belarus has built an open-air museum close to Minsk where a large amount of equipment is on display. You can visit there website here.
Why go to Chernobyl?
In 1989 one of the 4 nuclear reactors at Chernobyl had a meltdown. The Soviets evacuated an area with a radius of 30km. To this day the area remains contaminated and largely uninhabitable. I will not discuss all the details of the disaster, those you can read here.
My interest in this place started when I was in high school. Our class watched a documentary during geography class and after a subsequent Google search I found out that I could visit this place. Unfortunately I did not find the opportunity to visit it back then:(
However, this changed last year when my dad proposed we take a trip together. My dad is quite jealous of my trip to North Korea. Therefore, we decided to head to Europe’s last dictatorship; Belarus. However we would visit Kiev and Chernobyl before. Continue reading
How did this idea come to be?
A good friend of mine wants to sail around the world one day. However, he didn’t have any sailing experience or a sailing boat for that matter. Thus he decided to look for a boat on a Dutch version of Ebay. He found one that cost only 100€ and thus he bought it!
Together we have gone on other endeavours such as cycling to Norway. Therefore we decided to set a new challenge for ourselves, which would involve sailing. In order to help me achieve my goal to visit every country in Europe we decided to sail around the UK. Continue reading
On-arrival or at an embassy?
Applying for a visa is a costly and somewhat annoying part of travelling. It involves a lot of paperwork and a one might have to visit the embassy. In order to attract more visitors some countries allow visitors to apply for their visa upon arrival at the airport.
Supposedly Iran had introduced a visa-on-arrival programme several months before my trip. However, the information was very unclear. Some people said they could not get the visa on arrival and were send home. Consequently I decided to get my visa at the embassy. Continue reading
1. The driver cleans the bus before entering Pyongyang
If you take one of the longer tours to North Korea, say more than 5 days, chances are that you will visit places outside of Pyongyang. During these visits the drive might take you off the highway onto some dirt roads. As a consequence the bus will get dirty (duhh!). However, driving a dirty bus is not allowed in Pyongyang. Continue reading
Preparing for North Korea
In preparation for my tour through North Korea I looked at documentaries on YouTube, read other travel blogs and read Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. All of which helped me to prepare what I was going to see in North Korea. However they did not inform me well on the relationships with the North Korean guides (or minders as most people call them) I might form.
In the summer of 2016 I visited North Korea for a total of 12 days. One is not allowed to travel independently through North Korea, therefore an organised group tour is the way to go. Togethere with approximately 15 other people I went on a group tour organised by Young Pioneer Tours. I cannot recommend this tour company more!
At some point during the trip we visited a beach on the west coast of the peninsula. This visit was truly amazing and took away all my doubt that tourist cannot have an impact on the local population. In this post I will describe what happened as best as I can. Continue reading
While I was travelling in Iran a man from Sulaymaniyah invited me to visit him went I got to Iraq. I only had 5 days in Iraq and therefore I originally planned to only visit Erbil and the surrounding areas. After tinkering a little with my schedule I decided that there was time left to visit Sulaymaniyah. And I am very happy that I did! Continue reading
Before I went to Iran there were some things I did before, which were an absolute must. There were also some things I did not do before I went, but wish I did. Here is a list of 5 things you should do before visiting Iran.
1. Get cash
Most trade sanctions have been lifted from Iran by Obama. Despite this most banks are still reluctant to do business with Iranian banks, because they are afraid of ending up on a black list. Therefore most bank cards are not excepted in Iran. Continue reading