We always love hearing people’s traveling stories, their experience, their destination and the things they learned from their journey. That’s pretty much why we have a Wanderlust column in every 247 #cottoninkmagazine! Nothing broadens your horizon as much as traveling to new places outside of your comfort zone and that’s why we’re so excited to ask Ansy Savitri, a designer based in Jakarta, to share her story about her journey to Iran. We as the editors and writers did not know what to expect what Ansy’s story would be, since Iran is not the destination you usually hear people rave about when planning a vacation. So when Ansy said she’s willing to be our contributor, we read her story with glee and in awe with how our perception of Iran was very much different from her experience. It was just one of those moments that proves traveling and sharing your story can do wonders! Thus we dedicated a blog post on her amazing trip and include excerpts from her story and the bits we left out for the magazine, anyway you can also read a version of her travel story here. All photos are by Jatidiri Ono.
What was your initial reaction when you were asked by your friend to go to Iran?
I was intrigued. I knew just a little bit about Iran and the fact that I’m a woman, I thought “Is it safe to go there?” I was really curious. I read travel blogs and watched Anthony Bourdain and travelers’ videos of their journey in Iran. After all the research, I concluded, “Why not? It looks amazing!” Travel blogs and videos gave me lots of information about the country. All the reviews stated that Iran is totally safe and wonderful. After experiencing it myself, what I read and saw in the mainstream media/press was really a misconception of what Iran is all about.
Are there any interesting rules or customs that you learned while being there?
Taarof is an Iranian hospitality culture that involves politeness as a form of respect. For example, when someone offers something to you for free, you have to check whether it’s taarof or not. You offer to pay or make sure of it for about 3 times. If the person still resists, then the offer is legit. It’s important to know this practice to avoid misunderstandings or awkward situations.
Really, how are the people there?
The people in Iran are just too nice. There are just too many stories to tell but I had one particular story regarding this issue. During our second day, in our night bus ride from Tehran to Shiraz, we met this girl named Fariba, a biomedical engineering student. We chatted for a bit during the night because she sat next to me on the bus. In the morning, when we reached Shiraz, she offered me to get a lift from her father to go to our couchsurfing host’s house. This was probably a form of taarof, so I said we could get there by taxi, it’s not a problem and thanked her for the offer. She said that she already got her father’s permission to take us and he even told her to invite us to stay at their house instead. We ended up getting a lift from them, which was really sweet. On the way, her father was really friendly and they asked us about our job, family and advised us about Shiraz’s must-go places. He even asked us again to stay at their house. I still remember when we reached our couch surfing host’s house, he helped us took out our bags and said, “Welcome to Iran!” with a big smile. At that point, I felt like, “This is what all those travelers are talking about!” And it’s only been our second day in Iran!
What’s the thing you wished people know more about Iran?
I can guarantee from my experience that Iran is safe. Despite what the mainstream western media tells you, Iran is not a dangerous place with terrorists who want to murder you. Turns out that what I’ve read on those travel blogs is true and you should experience them too. You have to see those magnificent and artistic mosques; historical ruins that make you want to know more about ancient Persian civilization and befriend with the friendly and kind-hearted locals. It was quite a surreal experience when I was there.
5 words to describe Iran?
Misinterpreted. Amazing. Wonderful. Heartwarming. Surreal.
Last question, what items did you bring back home with you from Iran?
A handmade Persian rug for my studio, hand-painted brooches, saffron rock sugar sticks for friends and family, a traditional Kurdish felt hat for my father and ceramic tiles for my mother. And, of course the splendid memories about my journey in Iran and its people. Definitely want to go back there someday!
Go read our previous Wanderlust stories at 247 COTTONINK Magazine here.