First impressions from Iraq – a personal love letter

First impressions from Iraq – my personal love letter

Leaving Silopi – Turkey

After my hard days in Turkey and all the bad happenings I was a little bit afraid to go to Iraq. I was not sure if everything for me becomes better there.

I went up very early in the morning to start the way from Silopi to the boarder, about 10 kilometers and reach the city of Soran on the same day, another 200 kilometers. I got directly a border crossing taxi before the hotel. It is not allowed to cross this border by walking, you have to do it by car.

Border Turkey - IraqThe last time I got cheated by the Turks. I had to pay 40 Liras, that’s about 14 Euros and a Turkish guy who stayed in my Taxi had to pay 10 Liras. But I didn`t cared in this moment. I just wanted to leave Turkey.

Crossing the Border to Iraq

The crossing on the border was easy – I just had to wait more than one hour because something with the papers of the Taxi was wrong. The customs put a stamp in my passport after asking me what I want to do in Iraq and after I told them I am just Tourist. It was OK for them.

Border Turkey - Iraq 2I went on by hitchhiking to Zakho, the first city after the border went directly in the arms of the Iraqi police. After my happening in Ankara I was really scared – but the police was just interested what I want to here and they were totally friendly and heled me to get a cheap Taxi. A Taxi in Iraq from one city to the next costs between five and ten Dollars.

Iraqi Police

This is the difference: Turkish police controlled me more than two and a half yours and thought I am an ISIS/Deash sympathizer. The Iraqi police wanted to connect me on Facebook and helped to get a cheap taxi. My fist impression was very good and I become more relaxed after this happening.

Traffic Police DokhaThe city was not really different to the last ones in the southeast of Turkey. Very busy people walking around, and everyone is looking to you but on a much more friendly way. There are much more open shops and a very good smelling of chicken and a lot of spicy food.

After I arrived in the next city Duhok I got directly a new taxi and could go on to Akre. My break was not more than two minutes. On the way I saw the nature is changing extremely. A lot of hills and all are covered green. I was so surprised. The nature looked very similar to south of Germany. When I saw pictures before from Iraq in the television there was only desert with burning oil fields to see. I felt like at home. I couldn’t stop to watch out of the car window.

Iraqi Check points

In Akre I went out of the Taxi on an empty place in the city. It was Friday and the time of the most important pray for the Muslims. The Friday pray. But I just waited another two minutes till the first car what was coming stopped and the driver asked me where I want to go and if I need help. After I told him I want to go on to Soran he offered me a lift to the next checkpoint.

There are all couple of kilometers some checkpoints on the street to control the cars. I knew this already from my visit in Israel and was not afraid about it. They check if the cars are coming from the Daesh (ISIS) area and if the drivers are Kurdish of Arabs. Because the militaries there are so friendly you don`t feel bad because of this checkpoints. It gives you a real feeling of safety.

SamanSaman brought me to the next checkpoint and talked with the military guys there. He was also a military teacher and this guys are his friends. So I should sit down at the checkpoint, was invited to eat, got a lot of tea and a lot of their thin cigarettes. For them it was a nice experience to have me as guest and we had a lot of fun for about two hours. The most of them were very young, all about 20 years old. They helped me to stop a car and go on by hitchhiking. It is easy for them, because every car has to stop at the check point and so they could ask every driver were he wants to go and if he can take me. It is so funny if military guys with heavy guns stop cars for you and help you. A great experience for me.

Arriving to Soran

A Christian guy with his new pick up took me for the last 60 kilometers to Soran and brought me directly so Samuels house, the place I will stay now for more than one week.

Here my drivers:

My lift to SoranDriver of my lift to SoranThis house is full of English teachers from England and the USA. They all work on the University of Soran.

Shayne, Rachesl and SamuelSoran is surrounded by green hills overall and some big ones they are still snow covered. A beautiful and peaceful area.

Soran2 Soran1 Soran4The people who are living there are so unbelievable friendly. Everyone is greeting you on the street and want to know where are you from. When you walk along the road some cars are stopping to ask you very friendly questions. Everyone is smiling and so welcoming. “You are from Germany, really? You are not a foreigner, this is your home county – fell like home and if you need help here is my mobile number, call me whenever you want – do you have Facebook?” This is a typical conversation like I had a few every day. I was just walking around with a big smile in my face. I really was feeling like in a new home country. No other place in the world I was before the people where so nice and friendly to me.

Soran5 SoranPopulation of Soran/Diana

Soran3The most of the population in the new part of the city, called Soran are Kurdish people and in the old part, called Diana, the most are Christian – Assyrian people. In Diana you also can buy alcohol – there are a lot of shops.

Boyka and alc shop ownerIn Soran you have the main street with all kind of shops, cheap places for eating, buy internet ant telephone cards, change money to a fair course and a typical Bazar for everything else. One of the crossing streets is for all the vegetable shops but also there is a big supermarket for international stuff, like in Europe.Soran1Rich Kurdistan

I was really surprised that the city and people are not so poor like I thought. Everyone is driving big and new cars, mostly off road cars and pickups. You can also see on the clothes they wear and the watches they have, that the people here have money. Maybe this is also the reason why no one want to rip you off or is just friendly to get your money and sell you some bull shit. The prices also for me as foreigner were good. I love Kurdistan – northern Iraq so much 😉


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