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Walking across Iran
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Walking across Iran on 12/17/2009 20:38:21 MST Print View

Thought I'd give this guy a little publicity.

Mark Kalch is currently hiking across Iran in lightweight style. Seems like a pretty cool hike. Anyone else reading his blog?

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Walking in Iran on 12/17/2009 22:07:49 MST Print View

My sister's father spent a lot of time in Iran before the revolution, or between the revolutions, and I have a number of friends from the Bahai community here in Alaska who fled Iran. The people are wonderful, the government consists of a set of ruthless theocrats.

The walker states..."the overwhelmingly negative view of this country has come about by gross mis-representation on the part of government and media." I don't think it is gross representation to say that Baha'is are being killed, robbed, raped and thrown into prison because they are considered apostates by the repressive Muslim theocracy. My wife, who is a Bahai, would be forcibly converted or thrown in jail if she were to walk in Iran. Google Bahai's in Iran to get a sense of the way they are being treated. And it isn't just the current government, it started with the return of theocracy in the late 1970s.

This walker comes across as an apologist for the Iranian government, perhaps so he can enjoy the scenery. He sold out.


I'm an atheist and think all religion has done is separate us and cause conflict, so my dog in this fight is the same as the one that led me to protest the American christian president Bush in his "crusade" into Iraq..

YAMABUSHI !
(THUNDERHORSE) - F
Walking cross Iran on 12/17/2009 23:03:32 MST Print View

Respect.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Walking in Iran on 12/18/2009 04:15:10 MST Print View

And it isn't just the current government, it started with the return of theocracy in the late 1970s.

I don't believe the persecution began with that revolution ... it was already institutionalized in the culture. I recall hearing stories in the late 1960's and we had Bahai expatriate Iranian neighbors in the middle 1970's who described strong persecution "back home". But governments certainly have the power to add to the weight of such things (witness: Jim Crow, "blue laws" and the "House Committee on Un-American Activities".

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Walking across Iran on 12/18/2009 06:03:24 MST Print View

phew, would not be my first choice but you have to respect the courage that takes.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Re: Re: Walking across Iran on 12/18/2009 06:19:10 MST Print View

In contrast there was Rory Stewart's walk across Afghanistan ... in midwinter, no sponsors and no blog.

http://www.amazon.com/Places-Between-Rory-Stewart/dp/0156031566

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Walking across Iran on 12/18/2009 06:54:21 MST Print View

Isn't it sad that a place as beautiful as Iran cannot be walked across without political intentions becoming a motivator? There is beauty all over the world, beauty that has absolutely nothing to do with petty human differences or cruelty. For me hiking is my deepest and truest expression of our connection to the Earth and I go to get away, for a while at least, from all this ugly human selfishness.

I think it is wonderful that someone is attempting to show Iran in a more down-to-earth light; such places sure do need it!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Walking in Iran on 12/18/2009 17:52:51 MST Print View

"This walker comes across as an apologist for the Iranian government, perhaps so he can enjoy the scenery. He sold out."

Maybe.

Or maybe the walker is just doing what he thinks he has to do to finish his walk unhindered. This is a pretty delicate time to be doing what he's doing; mouthing off about religious persecution enroute could get him an all expenses paid vacation at the 5 star Hotel Evin, like those 3 imbecilic students that strayed into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan a few months back.

Maybe withhold judgment for now and see what he says after he exits Iran?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Walking across Iran on 12/18/2009 17:55:09 MST Print View

"In contrast there was Rory Stewart's walk across Afghanistan"

Rollicking good read, wasn't it? Talk about brass balls...

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Walking across Iran on 12/18/2009 18:03:14 MST Print View

"I think it is wonderful that someone is attempting to show Iran in a more down-to-earth light; such places sure do need it!"

+1

Iran is a country of supassing beauty, and the people are genuinely warm, exceedingly hospitable, and interested in the outside world. Governments are governments, and theirs is no worse than many others in this troubled world.

People here would do well to ponder our role in bringing the current regime to power in the first place before casting too many stones. A sad story of greed, imperial arrogance, and Cold War Real Politik. As usual the people bear the brunt of the suffering for the sins of their governments, both here and there.

Mark Kalch
(proexplorer) - F
Selling out? on 01/29/2010 03:16:55 MST Print View

Hi guys,

Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth. I finished my walk across Iran on the 18th January 2010. 60 days and about 1700km from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. An awesome experience. I wanted to address the comment made by Joseph about selling out.

Mate, I think you may have mis-understood the quote you took from my site. It is in no way referring to the regime that is in place in Iran. It refers only to the people. I have many friends in Iran and I know first hand the grave situation they are in. I make no apologies or allowances for the "savages" (a term my friend in Tehran refers to the government as and one which I wholeheartedly agree with) in power. By stating "the overwhelmingly negative view of this country has come about by gross mis-representation on the part of government and media", I refer to the country and its citizens, not the ruling elite. Every single person I met on my walk looked after me as if I were the most honoured and important guest to arrive on their doorstep, yet western governments and media would have us believe that pretty soon a military strike would be a suitable move. Sadly, the actions of the government in Iran are seen as being supported my its citizens, who in turn are the ones to pay a heavy price.

I will admit I was a little light in my posts, but I am not a journalist and my motives for crossing Iran were as far from political as you could get. Tom hit the nail on the head. Far from apologising for the government I tried to stay as non-political as I could to finish my walk. It worked. Perhaps you would think now that I am safely home that I could cuss and bad mouth the government all I want? Again, impossible. Too many incidents that took place on my walk I will never (at least not while this regime is in power) be able to discuss for fear of implicating and endangering my friends.

It was a walk through a beautiful country with amazing and friendly people. That is all. Because Joseph has such a close and heartfelt link to the persecution of its people I can understand him feeling the way he does, but I do not wish him to turn my beautiful journey into a political issue. That's not what it was about.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
iran. on 01/29/2010 03:30:34 MST Print View

thanks for your post mark, and congratulations on your successful and fulfilling journey.

Mark Compton
(rasputen) - F

Locale: West of the Great Smoky Mtn's
Iran on 01/29/2010 05:29:33 MST Print View

Congrats on your completed journey Mark. Looking forward to reading your journal. You my have stated in your journal but what's next? Great succuss on your future endeavor!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Iran on 01/29/2010 09:33:02 MST Print View

Joseph Reeves' statement about "selling out" is ignorant, arrogant, and offensive!

But back to topic. Iran has been the highest on my list of countries to visit for a few years now. Unfortunately, due mostly to our own American arrogance -- Iran allows Americans to visit only as part of tour groups -- not independently. So no visit for me.

Just knowing that Mark is doing this solo tells me he isn't American -- and I was right -- he's Australian. I'm sure he's having the time of his life! Iranian hospitality is legendary. I hope to do a solo visit some day...

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Offensive? on 01/29/2010 10:21:14 MST Print View

Mr. Tang,
My opinion on the walker having sold out to obtain permission to travel unassisted in a country that places strict restrictions on independent travelers, imprisons teenage girls because of their religion and hangs innocent people is not based on ignorance, nor is it arrogant. It is fact.

I don’t care if you find my comments offensive, especially if you do not share that same feeling toward the actions of the Iranian theocracy.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Offensive? on 01/29/2010 10:29:21 MST Print View

It's a different culture there. Just because we dislike some of their government policies does not make it a sell out to travel there -- no more than it is for Iranians (who might dislike Bush for example) to come visit America anyway -- enjoy our beautiful national parks, meet up and share campfire with us Americans.

The incessant need of a people who by and large don't travel outside their own soil and thus have little to no first-hand information of the world outside -- to resort to knee-jerk judgments of others is -- I repeat -- ignorant, arrogant, and offensive.

Next time, how about just enjoy the writings -- or skip them entirely -- but keep your Ameri-centric nonsense to yourself?

Oh, I am American too. Just not the ugly kind.

Edited by ben2world on 01/29/2010 11:28:52 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Walking across Iran" on 01/29/2010 11:23:50 MST Print View

Excellent link. I haven't seen Iran from this perspective, the land looks beautiful. Honestly, regardless of how Mark acquired access into Iran for a solo trek is superfluous to the journey of one man trekking lightweight through a rugged country that MOST of us will never get to experience or will never make happen in our life.

Mark makes it pretty clear on his website what his stance is, none, there is no agenda according to him other than sharing a non mis-represented view of Iran. You can take his word for it or not. So hopefully all the naysayers with their keyboards can put aside their own egotism and just enjoy the link and move on. This isn't the place for "American arrogance" speech or anything else. Great trip report, looking forward to reading the journals when they're complete.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: "Walking across Iran" on 01/29/2010 11:32:01 MST Print View

Honestly, regardless of how Mark acquired access into Iran for a solo trek is superfluous to the journey of one man trekking lightweight through a rugged country that MOST of us will never get to experience or will never make happen in our life.

Actually, if you don't mind traveling as part of a group -- Iran is just one or two plane rides away. But if, like me, you wish to travel independently, then yeah, we'll have to wait. But hopefully not an entire lifetime.

Addendum: I've read that travelers can sign up for a group tour -- say 3 days in Tehran -- then take off on their own to visit the rest of the country. Supposedly, once you are in, you are in -- and the visa is good for up to 30 days.

Edited by ben2world on 01/29/2010 11:45:40 MST.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Ugly not blind or stupid on 01/29/2010 11:58:56 MST Print View

Benjamin Tang says:

“It's a different culture there. The incessant need of a people who by and large don't travel outside their own soil and thus have little to no first-hand information of the world outside -- to resort to knee-jerk judgments of others is -- I repeat -- ignorant, arrogant, and offensive.”

Are you suggesting that Iranian culture being different to your own makes it acceptable for the state to imprison and execute innocent people? My Iranian friends would suggest otherwise. I believe it to be cowardly to condone or remain silent on that issue, whether the act takes place in Iran, Guantanamo Bay or your own Southern California.

I’ve lived outside of the Untied States in places as terrible and beautiful as Sierra Leone and Mali, so I do have some first-hand experience of what it takes to try to obtain permission to move freely in countries governed by oppressive regimes.

Again, I am happy to offend your comfortable armchair sensibilities, but I am not ignorant of injustice.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Ugly, Blind and Stupid (But Not You Personally) on 01/29/2010 12:10:13 MST Print View

Considering what we did just recently -- raining death and destruction onto Iraq -- just to reshape it more to our American liking -- maybe the whole world should stop visiting the US?

Considering that we now hold hundred(s) of people indefinitely (seven or eight years now and counting) -- without trial -- and have even contracted with Syrians to help out with "interrogations" -- maybe Europeans should consider whether they are "selling out" -- if they buy a tarptent from Henry Shires or Ron Moak?

Finally consider that many Europeans view capital punishment as completely barbaric. Umm, should they stop coming to the US because that would be a "sell out" against the sanctity of human life?

Aside from your knowing nothing firsthand about Iran, your penchant to judge others using purely your own standards, your third problem is this:

You have an inability to distinguish between government and people! You essentially want to boycott Iran because of their government policies. But you must realize that boycotting is collective punishment!!!

What have the Iranians done to you that you want to deny them business and contacts? You see Iran as one big blob -- and utterly fail to see the millions as INDIVIDUALS! If you have your way, then nobody will travel to Iran. So hotels and restaurants close. Folks get thrown out of work. Maybe some kids will have to leave school and work in sweat shops instead!

Why so quick to boycott? Methinks it has much to do with stroking your own ego (woohoo! I champion world justice) -- and little with even seeing the Iranians as individual human beings -- who really are just like you: wanting a good job, put food on the table, see the kids go to school and just live life everyday.

Still want to boycott an entire country and punish millions just because you don't like their government? Then I ask you to apply THE SAME STANDARD to your own country. Next time Obama (or whichever president) promulgates something you dislike -- DO NOT deal with any Americans or buy anything made in America. And Joseph, how stupid is that?

Edited by ben2world on 01/29/2010 13:02:17 MST.