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MIDDLE EAST |

Red Ink Run: Iraq and a hard place

You can feel the tension in the Iranian town of Piranshahr. Here the police are more alert and better armed than in the rest of the country. They maintain a larger buffer around themselves, keeping locals at arm’s length in the crowded market places and the chaotic streets. This region contains a majority Kurdish population [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

Oman: where dolphins and turquoise water meet camels with birth control bags

I wondered if the text I’d underlined in the Oman Lonely Planet could possibly be correct. The writer had raved about Oman’s khors-rocky inlets and its pristine beaches, about its windswept deserts and the stark and treeless mountains.

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MIDDLE EAST |

Generosity in the oldest city in the world

It’s that combination of history that got me, and the people, so unexpectedly warm and full of generous ways — from sharing their sweets with you on a bus trip from Damascus to Palmrya to searching up and down the street for someone with sufficient English to guide you back to the Ummayad Mosque, after you have become hopelessly lost in the myriad labyrinthine ways of the Old City of Damascus.

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MIDDLE EAST |

Syria: the greatest travel secret for history buffs

Sure, it’s not the calmest or safest country right now, and we’re not suggesting you hop on a plane tomorrow. But file this away for when things have settled in Syria. It’s also nice to remember that there’s beauty in a place where currently only bad news emerges. Travel writer Margaret O’Connor writes: Let’s cut straight to the [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

Finding the hidden side of Syria

David Blair writes: Syria — a small country near Iraq and Israel, a totalitarian rogue state, member of the axis of evil along with North Korea and Iran. That summarises what many of us know about Syria. I wanted to know more and spent a month travelling this ancient Biblical land. My first impressions were [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

In Mashhad there are no schedules

Meet Vali. Vali – homestay proprietor, carpet merchant, tour guide, polyglot, and all-round awesome guy – is the reason I stayed in the north-east Iranian town of Mashhad for four days instead of one. Mashhad is the second-largest city in Iran, boasting three million people and the second-holiest site in Shia Islam. For this reason [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

Camping in the Kaluts

After a week or more stuck in cities – charming as they were – I was really keen to get out of the sightseeing loop and go do something a bit more adventurous than walk through a museum. After Shiraz, the next destination on my itinerary was the south-eastern town of Kerman which I was [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

Esfahan, Yazd and Shiraz: some piccies

These three large central-Iranian cities form somewhat of a golden triangle for visitors to the country. Full of tick-the-box must-see sights, they may not have the charm of other activity-based (rather than attraction-based) destinations around Iran but they should be on every visitor’s itinerary. Esfahan Truly a global city that deserves to be mentioned in [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

A day in the desert

On my third day in Esfahan I was sitting in the hotel courtyard with the Lonely Planet trying to map out the rest of my trip. My rough plan after Esfahan was Shiraz, Kerman, Yazd, Mashhad, Kashan, and then back to Tehran for my flight out of Iran. However, this left me with a few [...]

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MIDDLE EAST |

Zam Zam Slam

So, I got the hell out of Tehran. There’s still loads more there I’d like to see but I needed to get out of the big city and get somewhere calmer, and I’ve scheduled two days to finish off the capital at the end of the trip. One overnight bus later I was in the [...]

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