Western girl in the eastern world. How to survive and explore on your own?

Western girl in the eastern world.
How to survive and explore on your own?

I am a lover of solo travelling.
Sometimes people ask me – what’s your point with Muslims?

You definitely have to do with the eastern world.
Why are you so hooked on Arabic countries? Seriously, going to Iraq/Tajikistan/Kazakhstan alone?

Western girl in the eastern world. How to survive and explore on your own?
Standing near Iraqi white pickup

So, what I want to do is to share my “survival guide” and break some stereotypes based on my experiences.

1. Being a girl who is travelling to a Muslim world alone is not that dangerous

If you’re eager to explore the East on your own, but you’ve heard horrible stories about aggressive men, who are willing to rape you and kidnap you… hold on. The truth is that in conservative countries man keep a way more distance with women than in Europe, so if you get hosted by someone expect that you’ll have a separate room and you going to as little physical contact as possible if any.
With a local near bazaar in Erbil, Iraq

2.Know the clothing and behaviour rules

Modest style is highly adviced!

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to cover yourself in burqa or abaya, but it does mean no-no to sexy shorts and tight dresses. If you’re into opened and sexy style of dressing, expect to attract a lot of unneeded attention in the Muslim world. Before going to a certain country, google the images of local women, to understand what’s their style. Blending among locals is always a safer option.

Western and eastern Turkey
Western VS Eastern Turkey clothing

3. Expect attention and hospitality

Accepting guests culture in the east is very generous. If you’re a traveler, forget about being hungry, forget about searching for a place to sleep, forget about being alone – locals are willing to give you all their generosity and welcoming vibes. They’ll probably take you to the best restaurants, drive you around the place, and make sure each of your wishes comes true. Yes, east is heaven for travelers, hospitality-wise.

With my local family in Tajikistan

4. Expect weird questions

– Who is paying for your trips?

– Do you work? really?

– Are you a virgin?

– Do you have a boyfriend?

– You don’t travel together?

– You’re not bored?

– Where are you? I am coming!

5. Forget about independence

Sometimes, when going for long-term exploration, you need some time alone. But on the east, the “personal space” is not what westerners are used to. When walk on your own, people will either wonder why are you alone or offer you their company to spend time together. Somehow community-spirit is very common, so being on your own is not very normal.

Iraqi carpets

6. People are going to be generous to you: accept and smile

Great food in the restaurant — accept.
Introducing you to the whole family — accept.
Driving you for a factory tour — accept.
The whole village is making food for you — accept.

East — is for Extreme generosity for guests. Accept and smile.

Generous invitation in Uzbekistan
Food for the traveler in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

7. Don’t be afraid, but be smart

If you know the clothing and behavior rules…if you know some locals, traveling to a Muslim country can turn out as rich cultural experience and can make you more generous. Read Kuran, understand the culture, and go explore. East is for adventurous travellers!

On the border with Syria

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s better to start exploring the Muslim world from a light conservatism level culture, like Turkey or Albania, before moving to Islam-sharks like Saudi Arabia or Iraq. It’s safer to travel with a guy, and it’s a good idea to get acquainted with locals before you’ll be heading to your next destination.
Dress modestly, keep some distance, accept the lovely hospitality and get ready to share some space. 
The more you know about the culture before, the better!

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Wonderful article! To which Muslim countries have you been too? My favourite one is Yemen.

    1. Thanks, Mohamed!
      I’ve been to Albania, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Yemen is on my wish list.

  2. Very Nice Article Iryna… Really gives an insight about the experience …. Looking forward for your next article

    1. Very pleased you’ve liked it, Viraj! Next ones are to come 🙂

  3. Interesting article. In Japan, in general, we have very little knowledge about Muslim culture and the way of their live.
    In general, according to my experience as an ordinary Japanese, we Japanese conceive them as extremely conservative people with religion with so many rules or concepts which are very hard to understand from our culture. Then, normally we stop trying to understand them and leave those Muslim countries out of our scope of interest.
    ( Normally, Japanese have no restriction on alcohol or food and don’t have religion. It even makes it harder to understand Muslim people and culture)

    In this article, it is especially interesting for me to know how they treat a guest ( from different cultural background). I didn’t imagine that people in Muslim countries treat guests so nice.
    It get rid of my fear and made me feel like visiting Muslim countries.
    I felt that this treating-guest culture is the key to the prosperity of Muslim countries in desert for hundreds of years.

    1. Thanks a lot for such a long and informative comment, Mitsuo! It would be my biggest pleasure if you would break the stereotype and try to dive into the
      the aythentic charm of east 🙂

  4. Thanks for finally talking about >Western girl in the eastern world.
    How to survive and explore on your own? – yaminska.com <Loved it!

    1. Glad you liked it 🙂

  5. It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us.

    1. Thanks, Khan.

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