On my way south through Laos, I found myself in a strange place called Pakse. It was merely a pit stop to break up my tiring journey to Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) and that is where I met Ebrahim; A man who I can only describe as humble, talented and adventurous. A man who has fought adversity to pursue a dream.
Long after departing Laos I emailed him my list of questions and l had honestly forgotten about them until I received the following email:
hope you be fine. I follow your posts in Facebook. Sorry for reply late. we had a really bad earth quake (7.3 Richter) 2 month ago and now we have a another really bad war again. so, I couldn't sent you earlier. sorry and the best for you
PS: I didn't understand the question number 9! Sorry. “
I sat and stared at the screen for a while, I was lost for words.
1.Describe the type of traveller you are?
I’m a cycle tourist, from Iran, Kurdistan. I travel with my bike around the world and take photos
2. Who are you travelling with? Why?
I’m a freelance photographer who travels alone. When I take photos, I need silence and concentration. When I’m alone I have more focus on my work. It’s true about my travel too. When I travel alone I can feel myself. I can feel everything with more concentration. Also, it’s very difficult to find a companion in my country for the type of travels I do. However, I can find new friends during my trips.
3. How would you describe your travel budget?
Oh, I’m so lucky. Because before my trip I found two sponsors for my trip. One from my country (Aftab mall) and another one from china (ASOS). It made my travel easy for me. But I set my budget at 10$ per day.
4. Why do you travel?
I’m a photographer, so I need to travel for taking photos as a part of my job. However, the most important aspect is about my life. I travel to get to know other cultures, to learn, to find myself and most importantly, travel to become a better human.
5. What sparked your current trip?
As a child at school, they would always talk to us about travel and exploring the world, and getting experienced. My father was also my teacher in school. When I was a child I read books such as “Around the World in 80 Days”, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” from Jules Verne and … Therefore, travelling was always on my mind, and when I grow up I said to myself that I want to do that. Since I was the first person in my homeland to do such a thing, it was very difficult.
6. Which country did you feel a strong connection to? Why?
Definitely Tibet. It was amazing; when I arrived there, I started crying. It was like a dream. A really blue sky, a quiet place, really good people and many other things.
7. If you could give an aspiring traveller advice, what would it be?
Don’t tick cities and places’ names on the map; one shouldn’t be proud doing that. Set a goal for your trip, then you can find your trip like a dream, and you can live your dreams then!
8. What's the one thing you brought on your trip that you haven't needed?
Nothing. I traveled so light; a bike and just two panniers to serve me for six months.
9. – (it’s worth the wait, I promise)
10. What do you wish that you had brought with you?
A credit card! Iranian citizens are not provided with credit card or other international financial services due to sanctions on Iran. Carrying cash is very crazy.
11. Highlight of your trip so far?
It was full of highlights and wonderful moments for me. I had such good experience especially in villages and temples.
12. Worst part of your trip so far?
Visa, Visa, Visa. Iranian passport is one of the least powerful ones in the world. It’s very difficult to get a visa with this passport. After 900km of cycling from Laos to Cambodia border, I was deported, just because of my passport. They didn’t ask me anything, who I am, what I was doing and why, nothing. They just looked at my passport and ordered me to go back! It was one of my worst experiences in my trip. When I looked at the sky and thought about those 900 kilometers I cycled and now I was going to cycle back, my heart was broken and just teared up… I applied for Thailand visa once again. Embassy was full of people. The officer looked at my passport and then he threw out my passport and just said “go”! I was shocked for a while! Just for my visa and my nationality!
13. A moment you learnt something new about yourself?
All the time that I cycled. That I met new people. Every single moment of my trip was a new experience and full of new lessons for me.
14. Describe an interesting encounter from your trip?
I was under arrest in Tibet, but the police officers invited me to drink coffee and have dinner. In Laos, I was chased by robbers and once by a guy on the road; I met a girl whom I had met in a country after 3 months in another country again and many more interesting things. Also, I met wonderful people in villages and rural areas.
15. Why did you choose these destinations?
I had a project about taking photos of monks and Buddhism-related subjects. So I had travel to all the countries I could find pertinent things.
16. Where is your next destination?
I have to finish my project, so I need to travel to other countries that I can find monks and temples and so forth; countries like India, Nepal, Myanmar and so forth.
17. A moment where you surprised yourself by your own actions?
When a scorpion bit me and I got very sick, I tried to be as patient about the pain and complications as I could. It was a motivation for me to endure the pain and it turned into a happiness I could feel in my soul
18. Any misfortunes? and how did you solve them?
Definitely being deported several times just because of my nationality. It was so bad. After it happened several times, I decided not to think about it anymore and to just focus on my goal and ignore every adverse reactions to my passport. We cannot judge people just by the country they are from! We didn’t choose to be born inside specific man-made borders!
19. A destination you wish you had included in your trip?
20. A destination you wouldn't return to?
"I hope one day there would be no borders in a world full of humanity and peace."
13 January 2018
Question 9: the one question that he didn’t “understand” turned out to be one that he understood the most… “Most humbling moment?”