Dec 17, 2009 at 7:38 pm #1252879
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
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?Dec 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm #1555107
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..Dec 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm #1555123
YAMABUSHI !BPL Member
Respect.Dec 18, 2009 at 3:15 am #1555150
Jim ColtenBPL Member
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".Dec 18, 2009 at 5:03 am #1555159
Jonathan RyanBPL Member
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
phew, would not be my first choice but you have to respect the courage that takes.Dec 18, 2009 at 5:19 am #1555161
Arapiles .BPL Member
In contrast there was Rory Stewart's walk across Afghanistan … in midwinter, no sponsors and no blog.Dec 18, 2009 at 5:54 am #1555164
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
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!Dec 18, 2009 at 4:52 pm #1555318
"This walker comes across as an apologist for the Iranian government, perhaps so he can enjoy the scenery. He sold out."
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?Dec 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm #1555320
"In contrast there was Rory Stewart's walk across Afghanistan"
Rollicking good read, wasn't it? Talk about brass balls…Dec 18, 2009 at 5:03 pm #1555322
"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!"
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 2:16 am #1567536
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 2:30 am #1567537
.Jan 29, 2010 at 4:29 am #1567543
@rasputenLocale: West of the Great Smoky Mtn's
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!Jan 29, 2010 at 8:33 am #1567581
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…Jan 29, 2010 at 9:21 am #1567597
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 9:29 am #1567601
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 10:23 am #1567613
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 10:32 am #1567614
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 10:58 am #1567626
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.Jan 29, 2010 at 11:10 am #1567630
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?Jan 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm #1567666
If you read my previous posts you would understand that I am committing on the Iranian Theocracy, not its people.
I actually do think this country would have been better off if other nations had boycotted the Bush Regime after the illegal invasion of Iraq. No invitations to world gatherings and a blanket "no" to any visit by Cheney. I'd suggest the same for the current administration if the U.S. stays in Afghanistan, considering the viability of that nation's supposed government.
Your previous commentary was directed at me and my comments so I find the title of your last post disingenuous. You were referring to me personally, which is not the level of discourse commonly seen on this forum.
I'm going backpacking for the rest of the weekend, enjoy your rant…Jan 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm #1567672
Your judgment and condemnation of what's just a person's trip report is not the level of discourse commonly seen on this forum. Mine was just to put you back in your place — and maybe educate you a bit — although the latter was obviously wasted.Jan 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm #1567676
.Jan 29, 2010 at 2:53 pm #1567682
John DonewarBPL Member
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Texas
For anyone and everyone.
MYOG project. From nothing assemble a tree that lives and grows, produces fruit and shade. This tree should also with a backdrop of a morning sunrise in a clear blue sky provide the beauty of nature and home to its sweetly singing feathered inhabitants.
Can anyone on this site provide a link or help to get this project done?
IMHO; Oh that's right it was done many many many years ago for us. Never mind. I will just be thankful and continue to enjoy the beautiful gifts of this world.
Party On ! 2010
NewtonJan 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm #1567716
Many thanks Mark, for a sensitive, spot on perspective on Iran told as only one who has spent time there could do. I lived there in the mid 70's for 7 months, and your impressions mirror my own. I hope everyone who reads this thread pays very close attention to what you have written. That would give me hope for a better future for both our peoples now face.
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