Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran By Lois Pryce

Lois Pryce made me sit on her motorcycle and made me ride from Tabriz to Shiraz and I could see Iran through a woman's eyes. I really admire the fact that a woman rode a bike in Iran and write in detail such lucidly about her journey without using a cuss word in her text. Its a must read for all travelers who want to experience a country called Iran.
Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran

Visit the locations in the novel

One of the most interesting and honest travelogues I’ve had the pleasure to read. Riding through the Iranian desert on a motorcycle is not the kind of thing I would ever think of to do but it would be an epic experience to do it. I now feel I have as Lois is as affable and as friendly as I hope any travel companion would be.

She questions her own beliefs about the Muslim culture and religion, her Western values, her new discoveries, the new people she meets and her sense of adventure is great. Some strange experiences and some somewhat dangerous ones mingle with moments of amazement and sheer delight.

Most of people she meets are lovely and it’s great to meet such colourful characters. There’s lots of moments of history, anecdotes and insights into her doubts and misgivings which adds to the tension of the whole journey. I found this honest and raw, and I’m impressed with this traveller’s taste for the unknown and an affinity with her surroundings.

Have since been lucky enough to meet Lois and she’s as lovely as she comes across in this book! A real explorer with a heartfelt desire to see the real country and she succeeds. The face of Iran is not one we often get to see in this way but this book really shines a light on its beauty. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran Ein toller Reisebericht einer Frau, die in der Lage ist, ihr Abenteuer im Iran reflektiert wiederzugeben. Sie ist sich bewusst, dass die Menschen, die sie offenherzig mit ihrem Motorrad aufnahmen, nur ein Teil der iranischen Gesellschaft sind. Der Teil, den die momentane Regierung nicht unterstützt. Price ist sich aber bewusst, dass es auch Hardliner in der Bevölkerung des Iran gibt. Leute, die eine allein reisende Frau mit Motorrad skandalös finden, was sie am eigenen Leib erfahren muss. Ein Aspekt der im Buch „Couchsurfing im Iran“ beispielsweise gänzlich ausgespart wurde. Die Autorin ist demnach in der Lage ein sehr diversifiziertes Bild der komplexen Bevölkerung darzustellen. Die einzigen, die als durchweg positiv erlebt wurden, sind Irans Frauen. Aber was will man auch in einem feministischen Reisebericht anderes erwarten 😉 Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran Finished: 22.08.2018
Genre: non-fiction travel writing
Rating: A
#20WorldFromMyArmchair
Conclusion:
Traveling is always an adventure
but Lois Pryce has taken it to a new level:
a woman on a solo motorcycle journey
...through the Middel East, Iran.
What will she come up against? How will she cope?
This is an impressive piece of travel writing!
Trivia: Shortlisted E. Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2017


Review


Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran I felt an immediate affinity and kinship with Lois Pryce. While this subsided slightly at times, I still finished the book wishing she would be my travel companion one day.

Revolutionary Ride is an honest and unabashed journey through Iran, from the pov of a white, middle class British woman. She is adventurous, open-minded, and honest about her own prejudices and fears about her journey.

It's a remarkable journey (I so want to go to Iran now!), and Pryce handles herself (and her biases) well, even when it would be easier to just give up or hang out in a more comfortable setting a few days longer. She pushes herself every day to really learn about the people and the culture around her, and while she and the people she meets along the way usually walk away the better for each interaction, us readers are the real winners every time.

The Persian people we encounter throughout the travels/book are almost all wonderful and friendly people. But most have a thoroughly depressing air of hopelessness around them: they have resigned themselves to life under a leader they hate, having to follow archaic rules they disagree with, and being viewed by an outside world that seems to be increasingly uninformed and uneducated, about the region and the people. In many ways the ennui that sets in is a global epidemic in the modern world,

They are scared, but it not just that. Life in Iran is bad in many ways, but in some ways, for many people, it is quite comfortable, just comfortable enough for them to not want to, how would you say, rock the boat? (p78)

This is how tyrannies are built, and this is how they remain in control. And it's very depressing, not just for the wonderful people we meet in Pryce's book, but for the world as a whole. Pryce's journey was remarkable, and it is good that she made it, wrote about it, and published it. And while I was enchanted by the amazing people and culture of the Persian country, I also found it depressing that most people she talked to had simply given up - decided that nothing was going to change, so why bother (a feeling I, as an American, have been feeling for too many years as well).

If I have one complaint about this book, it really was an inevitability: she tries to understand the 21st century Persian culture and people through the analytical framework of a 21st century UK-citizen. Insisting on viewing the world (or at least Iranians) through the filter of British customs and etiquette comes across as foolish. Often (too often) she will marvel at what she sees as irreconcilable contradictions in the people and customs she encounters - muslims eating bacon and drinking, most often - and she doesn't understand how such a paradox can exist. This seems like an out of character naivete, and one rooted in ignorance about one specific religion/culture. I take it as fairly common knowledge that some catholic people eat meat on Fridays, and that often non-orthodox/conservative Jewish people don't keep kosher. Many people I have met consider their religions to be more a cultural identity than a strict code of mandates; I have met catholic and jewish people who, while identifying as catholic or jewish, are athiests or agnostics in their religious convictions. This inability/unwillingness to separate the muslim culture from the muslim religion was frequent throughout the book, and it was annoying that Pryce did not even consider this a possibility in the Muslim religion. This doesn't detract too much from the book overall (still 5 stars!), but it was distracting and disappointing. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran

This book worked well for me in the sense that I could pick it up and put it down at various times over a few weeks. Unfortunately, that makes it more difficult to review afterwards. My inclination if possible would have been to give the book 3.5 stars, based on a feeling that it moved more slowly than it should have? Can't really put my finger on that though. Anyway...


Pryce is a very good travel writer, which I knew from enjoying previous books. She has a terrific sense of place, so that one doesn't need to visit Iran directly to feel themselves in the moment with her. If you feel it seems like an interesting book that you think you'd like, you probably would.

Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway, which, I suppose, may bias me in its favor. Or rather, favour, since this is a British book.

In 2011, shortly after the British Embassy in Tehran had been stormed and set on fire and the staff evicted from the country, Great Britain ordered the closure of the Iranian Embassy in London by way of retaliation. Lois Pryce returned to her parked motorcycle to find a note on it that began, Dear Sir. I have seen your motorbike and I think that you have traveled to many countries. But I wonder, have you been to my country? That is Iran. It is very beautiful and the Persian people are the most welcoming in the world ... The note mentions the Embassy closures as a matter between governments, not the people, and urges her to visit the country and see for herself.

Obviously she ended up going. The note writer (who signed himself Habib) was not exaggerating. Despite being a female traveling by herself, she was welcomed almost universally wherever she went. There were occasional spots of trouble, but they were notably rare. She traveled to Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, rode along the shore of the Caspian Sea, visited the ruins of Persepolis ... The people she met were spirited and fun-loving, warm and friendly, not at all the picture of a people repressed by religion that many outsiders would picture. Be warned: reading of her adventures will give you itchy feet.

One quote that I greatly enjoyed: The similarity [of the desert along the road to Yadz] to Utah or New Mexico was uncanny, but it wasn't the only aspect of Iran that reminded me of America. The two countries had far more similarities than either would care to admit; both maligned and misunderstood, tarnished in the eyes of the world by a minority of religious fundamentalists and obstreperous politicians, but in truth, populated by generous, hospitable people, endlessly innovative and industrious with a truly astounding capacity for vast portions of food. She has a way of writing that makes you feel as if you're there with her, and her vibrant portrait of the country is a welcome antidote to the fear mongering rhetoric that seems all too typical these days. Highly recommended! Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran Pryce takes us on an interesting motorcycle ride through northwest and central Iran having mad ea decision to travel the country after finding a passionate note from an Iranian pinned to her motorbike whilst outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

Navigating the all too real difficulties of procuring a Visa for a British national at the time (in 2014) and the madness of Iranian driving, Pryce's at times unnerving journey is well written and does a nice job of illustrating the wonderful hospitality showered on travellers to this amazing country. Also relayed is the general sense that most of whom she meets are anti the current political establishment, yet down-trodden to an extent that little can be expected to change in the near future.

A good read that provides some insights into the current climate in Iran, its people and the sights on offer. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran Britain and Iran have always had a turbulent relationship, and in 2011 just after the latest tit-for-tat diplomatic storm Lois came back to her motorcycle and found a note stuck to it:

... I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,

Habib


Being the adventurous sort, she has ridden across down through Africa and all the way up from South America to Alaska, this unofficial invitation to a country that very little of us know anything about, was too much to resist. Perhaps, she might even be able to meet the man who wrote the note. When most people think of Iran, the things that come to mind is the Iran – Iraq war and the boggle-eyed fanatics that seem to delight in setting western flags alight. Against the official advice of don’t travel there and to the horror of her friends and family, she applies for a visa. Amazingly, it is granted. Crossing the border from Turkey by train, her first Iranian city was Tabriz and the beginning of her 3,000 mile motorcycle ride around the enigmatic country that is Iran. The people that she encountered on her travels came from all walks of life; there are students, soldiers, housewives, teachers and even drug addicts.

It is a country of stark contrasts; ancient and modern, pragmatic and whimiscal. She comes to understand the juxtaposition between the strict Islamic control that the mullahs and Revolutionary Guards enforce, and the warm, welcoming and generous people who share their homes and lives with her and we learn how the real people live behind closed doors and how they feel about their country. It is a brave journey too given the attitude towards women, in particular solo Western women. There is one heart stopping moment in the book, though thankfully Pryce was seen as a curiosity and a welcome visitor to the country most of the time. Pryce immerses herself in the country and the warm, welcoming experience of Iran that she brings us is rich and engaging, making this well written account an excellent travel book. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran Incredible insight into what Iran is really like, written in a fun and heartfelt way. As an Iranian, it was particularly interesting to read and I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the country. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran

Revolutionary

A proper travelogue - a joyful, moving and stereotype-busting ride. - National Geographic Traveller, Book of the YearIn 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:

... I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,
Habib


Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel (and the warnings of her friends and family) and sets off alone on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. Along the way, she meets carpet sellers and drug addicts, war veterans and housewives, doctors and teachers - people living ordinary lives under the rule of an extraordinarily strict Islamic government.

Revolutionary Ride is the story of a people and a country. Religious and hedonistic, practical and poetic, modern and rooted in tradition - and with a wild sense of humour and appreciation of beauty despite the comparative lack of freedom - this is the true story of real contemporary Iran. Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran

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