Why I chose to travel to Iran with mum

I was lazing on my bed, scrolling my news feed on FB until an advert caught my attention. “Free Seats to Iran! Now Everyone Can Fly!” it said. Without any hesitation, I called my mum right away to see if she was cool with the idea of me going to Iran by myself.

Also without hesitation, she said no. 

I knew that there was meant to be a never-ending persuasion before she would let me go to this beautiful country by myself. To bolster my argument, I Googled eye-popping images of Iran and told her how safe Iran is. I even lured her with all the tantalising Persian food. However, mum still gave me a dead set “no”. Convincing this lady was not a cakewalk at all. 

For some reasons, mum was ingrained with the picture of Iran being a place where missiles fly around freely in the sky; Kidnaps and homicides happen every 2 seconds and every Iranian has a gun to protect themselves when they go out.

Unless a miraculous force intervenes, I doubted that my mum would even give the slightest thought to letting me go to this untouched land.

She was really scared of sunburn.

Maybe Jesus intervened. Mum called me back and said I could travel to Iran. I was overjoyed, until she added “Can I come with you?”

I mean this woman just told me that this is a country where people could be killed in any second and now she wants to go with me?! That must be a real miracle.

If you know me, I really enjoy travelling solo. So instead of a good news, this news came more like a wrecking ball to me. There’s no way that we could travel together. I love to hike and she loves leisure walks; I fancy local food, she is fine with comfort food; I am a total extrovert and she is an introvert. Even our walking paces are different, and both of us have limited patience.

I felt like we are gonna pull each others’ hair out after this trip and hate each other forever. We haven’t had any long trip together (just me and my mum), and I thought we should go to somewhere more relaxing first before coming to this country with such great outdoor pursuits. There are a thousand (legit) reasons to turn her down.

Mum's first attempt on selfie-ing! Don't cringe.

But, I couldn’t turn Mum down. She seldom asked me for things and I knew that she would be devastated if I refused her from going with me. Therefore, after agreeing on a long list of terms and conditions, we decided to go to Iran together.

Our flight to Iran was around 8 hours from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In mum’s opinion, sitting in a cramped airplane waiting for long stretches of time to dwindle is the harshest fate a human could endure. As the weather was bad, we couldn’t land at the intended airport. We were trapped in the airplane for another 6 hours. I had to force all my positivity out to endure the nonstop complaints that my mum was making. Both of us were already annoyed with each other. That was only the start of the trip and I could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Featuring mum in red! It's her first time seeing so much snow in her life!

After our relationship crisis in the plane, we had a talk the very next day. That talk actually changed the dynamic of our subsequent weeks travelling in Iran.

I would let her choose the restaurants she wanted to save me from the dire mortification of walking out of a restaurant after being seated. Mum would tell me if she was feeling tired and we would find somewhere with a seat. I would wait for her to take photos of every single flower / shrub / bush / tree that she saw and in return, she would wait for me to take that Insta-perfect photo. Both our kvetches stopped.

I walked slower and she walked faster. We were both at the same pace. I would tell her which guy was checking on her and she would tell me which girl was pretty (which was really, really weird). When we are in some souk or bazaar, She would come in right away to haggle over the price if I had my eyes on something. I would make her join my conversation with the locals. But if we were annoyed at something about the local tour or the people, we started to bitch about it in our own secret discussion in Mandarin. We hiked up the volcanic rocks, walked the sand dunes, played with snow, cooked Iranian food, explore the ancient citadel, rode camels and so many other things that wouldn’t be so much fun if I were to do it alone.

A woman has to cover herself prior to entering any religious premise in Iran. And I think my mum looks really cute in that!

We started to have a stronger bond with each other which we never had after I left home for college when I was 18. Our conversation evolved from the didactic “Do this or I will (insert punishment)” to “Do you think that tour guide was hot?”. Mum became more like a friend.

Perhaps the stupidest thought I had in that entire trip was that “Mum is not cool at all”. This woman, who raised me to be who I am today, tried her hardest to ensure that this Iranian adventure will be a memorable experience for both of us. And I was there complaining about every single difference between us. 

Mum didn’t have much chance to explore the world when she was young due to the precarious financial situation in her family back in her days. And now when she is financially able, she is contending with the reality that her spine is turning stiffer, her legs ache more often and her heart that is not serving her well.

Wasn't an easy hike for her but she made it!

I have been telling people that Iran is the most beautiful place that I’ve been and I don’t think it was the destination that mattered. Mum added so many colours to our trip to Iran and she was definitely the highlight of our trip. 

I know that there are still a lot of destinations that you fancy, Mum. Let’s plan for our next trip, shall we?

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Spoiler alert: it's complicated at first, but turned out to be one of my most memorable journeys of my life!

Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical school student that is crazily in love with travelling. He loves to inebriate all his readers with the crazy travel stories and personal travel tips that he has gathered throughout years of travelling experience. Learn more about him here!

Categories: IranMy Story