Funny (and sad) to think that when I started organizing my trip which end up being a 3 year long journey, the “Muslim World” wasn’t really a priority since has never been high on my list.
Even tho I have visited and enjoyed Muslim countries before, such Turkey when I was a teen, Morocco a couple of times and even Egypt which I choose to go during the Spring Revolution (I know I know, I have always been attracted to trouble) I guess the brainwashing and formatting that we all go through in the Western world, made me not prioritise any Muslim country when I draw my first map of the places I would like to visit back in 2013.
However, the beauty of travelling is that opens your mind and broads your horizons.
I am so glad and even relieved that I made the conscious decision to turn back and visit the Middle East and other Muslim countries while I was wander-lusting around Asia. End up being one of the best surprises and pleasant experiences of the entire journey.
You see, while travelling, there’s was a lot of knowledge you will accumulate that would be difficult to experience if you weren’t there, witnessing different cultures and how they behave with your own eyes, live, not out of a screen. Interacting with them, feel their warm personalities, see their kind smiles and smell & eat their foods.
And after travelling over 55 countries, I must say that not many cultures come as close as the Muslim one when we are talking about hospitality.
I could write for hours about the countless situations where Muslims have treated me as a Queen.
Been treated nicely in Asia is normal, however, most times you do feel like an ATM! Most time you know people are being kind to you out of interest! But that’s not how I felt in the Middle East… it wasn’t about my money, they were genuinely kind and wouldn’t never want anything back.
I could talk about that time I end up traveling for free on a long journey on a fully booked train because the captain let me in and use his seat for 7h – and even gave me free food and drinks. Or could tell you about the countless families and people that offered me accommodation and their food. Oh, and let me remind you all that I was even invited for a weeding… of people I didn’t knew!!!! Free tours, showing me around was a constant, offering me their cars to drive, etc etc etc, list goes on and on. Muslim hospitality truly is life changing.
If we take in consideration on how stereotyped and scrutinized the entire Muslim World is by our media, governments, society in general, its understandable why people would avoid it. I remember when I announced that I got my VISA for Iran, how people reacted on my blog and social media pages…I was literally attacked. I was called crazy (it is true tho), in how I should be super careful and most said I shouldn’t even go. When I asked why, they told me I should watch TV. I don’t.
Well, I didn’t listen. And I went. Spent roughly a month in Iran and you know what? Iran is by far one of my favourite places on Earth. And I have been to a few…
In fact, during this trip alone, I visited Oman, Jordan, Malaysia, UAE, Iran and even end up living in Indonesia, which has the largest muslim population than any other country in the world.
And I loved it. Absolutely LOVED my experience in each one of those wonderful countries.
On top of that, lets not forget that Muslim World has much more to offer than just amazing hospitality. They also have some of the most stunning and mesmerizing natural and man made beauties in the world: from some of the most beautiful mountains, to oceans and seas covered in coral to the most exquisite architecture, which no traveller should ever miss out. And of course, they also have one of the World Wonders, Petra.
I hope somehow I inspire you to be open minded and visit the Muslim World, and feel their people warm. You will not regret.