In an interview with the Iraq International News Agency, British citizen Alex Reynolds, who earlier this year took on an epic journey across the nation of Iraq by motorcycle, spoke about her experience.
Why did you choose to visit Iraq?
I was curious about the history of the region, and wanted to know more about the Middle East, especially as it has become easier for tourists in the last couple of years to visit the country. The difference between the regions in Iraq is what stood out to me the most, also, seeing ruins from less mainstream sites.
What were the greatest challenges you faced?
I did not face many issues, the language barrier was the hardest to overcome, but that is not unique to Iraq. Checkpoints were also very time consuming. Another obstacle was finding historical sites, there were many sites that I only found through small Facebook groups, or suggestions from locals, which typical tourists would not be able to find. Overall, my experience from travelling to countries with similar infrastructure definitely helped me.
I spent a month in Iraq, where everyday was different from the other. I expected to encounter more difficulties, but the remarkable hospitality also helped, as people often offered to help me. What was most surprising to Iraqis was that I solo on a motorcycle, I would often have to remove my helmet to show that I was indeed a woman.
Were there many sites available for motorcycle repairs if needed?
Baghdad and Erbil were very accessible, with many sites available for motorcyclists. There was not as much availability in the Kurdish region, but local people were always happy to help, making it easier if I ever needed repairs. However, what I found unusual was that you could not fill up the tank with fuel directly, and this was applicable everywhere in the region, but it was not too difficult to work around.
A lot of people are concerned about the heavy military and police presence, as it suggests the region is unsafe. However, since there are restrictions to enter, it means the country is safer.
Readers can find out more on Alex’s adventures on her blog, Lost With Purpose.