4 Things Someone Should Have Told Me | Before Visiting Kurdistan

Hello Dreamers, I think there is always things that happen in your life and you’re just like “I wish someone told me this”. Well thats why I’m here, I know theres still a lot of Kurds and non-Kurds alike who really want to see Kurdistan for the first time, but have no idea what to expect. This is why I’m here… hello… hi.. My name is Alê and Im here to tell you 4 things someone should have told me before visiting Kurdistan.

These 4 things are from my own personal experience of traveling there four times already with family, which I stayed for a span of 2-3 months. I feel like I have a lot of experience on this subject, which is why I want to help others out there who really want to see the world and the beauty of our homeland.

  1. Different Societal Rules

    This can be a positive and a negative thing when you really think about it. I wanted to include this in the beginning because it is something that I definitely struggled with when I visited in 2012 with my father. As a teenager I was asked to pack “appropriate clothing” and nothing “too westernized” because I would be meeting a long list of family members that I haven’t seen in years or have not met at all. Though I was still not prepared for what I witnessed when going. Certain things that I’ve learned because I was told that is not right after doing it is what I want to talk about. Playing soccer on the streets with your cousins (couldn’t do it), sitting outside your uncles house for too long (couldn’t do it), going to the mall with a group of your friends (absolutely not), and going to the parks with a group of your friends (absolutely not). These are just a few examples (in the city of Duhok) that I’ve personally witnessed, however the positive thing that is attached to this is it has definitely changed over the years. As Kurdistan continues to become progressive and more modernized it slowly continues to accept certain activities. For instance, in 2014 I went to the mall with my cousins by ourselves, I went to the arcade with my cousins and went bowling, and went to Azadi park and dream city. This is something that everyone needs to understand and help change the stigma around females going out by themselves or with a group of their friends. Societal rules are constantly changing and restructuring for the citizens of the country or city, however just by being aware is what will definitely help you in the long run.

  2. Best time to learn

    BEST TIME TO LEARN, I think this is the best thing to do when visiting such a historical, and cultural area. Though your trip may be for vacation, but the easiest thing to do is be open minded and hear stories about Kurdistan and the different cities while experiencing them yourself. The best thing to do is ask and I bet there will be a historical story with it, if its about the era of Saddam Hussien or even years before that. When I went in 2012 as a young teenager I learned so much just from my family members that I didn’t know before. that I’m a very strong believer that just simply asking questions you can learn so much that you did not even think you would have learned. Driving with my dad from Duhok city to the village of Babirê I would just sit there without any music playing and listen to his stories. Stories about which mountains he fought on as a peshmerga and which cities he was in as a child and what he did. You learn so much just by simply listening and being present in the moment, which is something I learned over the course of my visits.

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3. be adventurous

This goes hand-in-hand with being the best time to learn. I have always had trouble with this because I am just normally a lazy and tired person that could sleep all day. There were times in Kurdistan that I would get forced by my father who would call me and tell me to get dressed not telling me where we are going just so I could leave the house. It definitely gets hard especially going during the summer and it being extremely hot outside, but you are not going to see and experience the full beauty of Kurdistan from your home. My dad definitely forced me to step outside and experience Kurdistan the right way because he has always been the adventurous type. My parents and I would often just leave the city of Duhok and drive to the villages and stop wherever we wanted and experience each area for what it was. I remember, my parents and I went to various villages and then we ended up on the edge of the south and north of Kurdistan where there was a village that we sat by the water and had our dinner. It was very spontaneous, but those are when the best adventurous happen, and for me the most memorable moments.

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4. Life changing

I wish someone would have told me how life changing it was going to be for me. In 2012 when I was going to go with my father I was not a 100% sure I wanted to. I was forced by my dad because he really wanted me to see Kurdistan just like my brother did when my father took him the year prior. I was sceptical about it and did not want to spend my entire summer in Kurdistan, however when I got there I automatically fell in love with it. The experience is definitely life changing for me and I hope for all of you because I found who I was when going on that trip, this is where my love for Kurdistan grew to what it is today. Just by experiencing the culture, family, language, history, and various cities it made me think about my life in Canada and how grateful I am. I hope before you go you are aware of the life changing experience you will have and that you are accepting and opening of what might change for you.

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If you have any other things that you wish someone told YOU before you left for Kurdistan comment them down below!!

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What I got from Kurdistan | Gifts
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Hey Dreamers, there is always someone you know that has gone or is going to Kurdistan every year. This year was definitely no exception. Though, the best part of having someone go to Kurdistan and come back is what they bring with them. Gifts, stories, food, and sweets. Continue reading to find out what gifts I received from amazing people in my life. 

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Kurdish belt | I was gifted with this Kurdish belt to wear on top of Kurdish dresses during celebrations. This belt is very different from the regular belts Kurdish women may wear over their clothes. Its a belt that does not have the large middle piece and only has the side pieces all around the belt. As Kurds call it the "Rakta" that holds the belt together is that the belt only consists of. This is something different for me because I do not have this type of belt. Im looking forward to trying it and seeing how it looks compared to the original style belts that Kurdish women often wear. 

Shîtka | This piece of jewellery is something Kurdish women tie around their waist when wearing Kurdish dresses. The black string you use to tie around your waist with the design hanging off your dress. For this design it is the large coins that are a big theme in the gifts I received. Now you know the style in Kurdistan currently (pretty much go big or go home). I love wearing this type of piece over simple Kurdish clothes and when you don't want to go all out for small celebrations. 

Kurdish shoulder jewellery \ This piece of jewellery is something that is common in Kurdish traditional style. It is a long piece of jewellery that the women will place on her shoulder and it will be placed across her body. This is shown while the coins that are on this piece hangs down perfectly on top of the Kurdish dress. This piece is heavy and very long I don't usually wear these pieces that much anymore, but I'd love to give it another try. Maybe this piece of jewllery will come back in style again. You never know!

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earrings | I got different pair of earrings with the same style, but different colour. These first three earrings are gold with different colour jewels in them. First the blue jewels then the green and lastly the yellow. The other pair of earrings that I got was the longer ones with the coins ranging from small size to bigger size. As you can tell the style of coins is something you currently can't run away from in Kurdistan. Im obsessed with these earrings not only are they beautiful, but I also can have a variety to choose from to match what Kurdish dress I will be wearing. You can also wear these without having to wear Kurdish traditional dress with it. Bring some culture to regular everyday looks shall we? 

Bracelet | This bracelet was gifted to be by a very good friend and I'm obsessed with it. As you can see the coin style is back and it works perfect with everything else that I was gifted with because they match perfectly. the earrings with the bracelet and the Shîtek (is that a little too much?). 

 

 

Im obsessed with everything that I received

Thank you to my family and friends. Love you!

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My Top Three Favourite Things To Do In Kurdistan

Hey Gûls,

If you're like me and cry pretty much every day because you miss being back home where ever it may be, and you're dying like me because you want to visit as soon as possible. then this blog post is for YOU. Continue reading to see what things I LOVE to do when I'm back home in Kurdistan with photos sharing with you guys my experiences and memories...just scroll down!! 

I've visited Kurdistan four times in my 22 years and I've been extremely grateful I had these opportunities to bring me closer to my culture and the history of my people. By experiencing Kurdistan as many times as I have I have been able to figure out what my favourite things to do are. I've already talked about my favourite places to go are I might as well talk about my favourite things to do. Granted the only times that I've been to Kurdistan are during the summer when school is out, but summertime is one of my favourite times to go.

My First Favourite Thing That I Love To Do In Kurdistan Is

EAT!!🍕  🍔 🍟🤤

I love trying new foods and over the years I've found my favourite snacks to eat and meals to pick. The best thing in Kurdistan is the amazing food that is given to you anywhere you go. Someone's house, restaurant, parks, shopping centers. 

Here are some pictures of the amazing foods that I took the time to take pictures of so I could remember and relive those moments, because trust me I am dying to. 

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Im telling you, eating in Kurdistan is probably my favourite thing to do. If its going to someones house and having dinner, walking to the convenient store at 1 AM and buying bags of junk food or going to a restaurant and eating anything thats available. Those pomegranate drinks and slushes are my favourite thing ever (ezbarî) the ones at the convenient store are ARE EVERYTHING! theres this specific one that I would get every night during the month of Ramdan after breaking my fast. This is probably the thing I miss the most. 

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The next thing I die for is the watermelon ice cream that they have at the convenient store I would have the ice cream and metro late at night when I was suppose to be sleeping being on my phone and enjoying the summer nights int he front yard. IT WAS A GOOD TIME. 

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Having food at restaurants is something that I enjoy too. Though I didn't have it as often as Id like. I enjoyed the restaurants I went to and the people I was with. The chicken, kebab, fish and the salads AMAZING!! I love the Kurdish food and the fresh fish that they make. Though, fast food restaurants are by far the best ones. They didn't have Popeyes (cause you know I die for my Popeyes and chicken) but they had Texas Chicken (kinda the same thing), which I went to every night with my uncles. Their chicken was amazing and really good, it was really cool seeing westernized fast food chains in Kurdistan because in pervious years I visited they did not have it. 

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The next food that I will always die for is the shawarma sandwiches there (lefa). The best Lefa's I've eaten is Lefat Zultan by Parka Azadî in Duhok. I probably ate like 5 of their Lefas when I went, but any Lefa place is a good place to start and to try out. I love trying new places that sell Lefas just to see if they can beat Lefat Zultan, but I have yet to find one that does. 

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My favourite (healthy) foods are Figs (hejîyar) and black berries (well in this case red). natural figs in Kurdistan are the best thing to eat. In the villages and picking them off the trees and eating them is what I love about Kurdistan. Not only that but the berries, my favourites is when they were red and sour. I dont even think they are fully done, but if you havent tried them when they are red you are missing out. SOOO GOOD!

My Second Favourite Thing That I Love To Do In Kurdistan Is

VISIT NEW PLACES 🏞 🌄

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One of the best things about Kurdistan is the amazing view that you experience anywhere you go. The city life, the village life, the mountains, animals, sunset, sunrise and so many others. I've experienced waterfalls in Gundê Bêshîlê, animals surrounded by the mountains, the life of Amedîye, the landscape that is in Zaxo, and the sunsets shadowing the mountains. All new things that create a place within my memories that will definitely last a last time. I will never have a bad day or a boring day in Kurdistan because every where you turn you experience something new and see something beautiful. 

My Third Favourite Thing That I Love To Do In Kurdistan Is

Create new memories with my family💜👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🌸

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Through, experiencing new things and seeing new places I've always experienced it with people I love. This is why my favourite thing to do is traveling and taking on new adventures with my family. in previous years my dad was the one I traveled with the most. The times I've been to Kurdistan it was always with my dad either by ourselves or with our other family members. In Kurdistan my dad is always up for adventures and seeing new places, we would go to different villages, and try new restaurants. While driving to these places he would tell me stories of life in Kurdistan and as a Peshmerga fighter, which has become my favourite memory. All of these photos that I've shared with you were with my father there. Some I had my mom and siblings too, but my father has been my go-to travel buddy when traveling to Kurdistan. It has become our thing (siblings don't get jealous he likes me more, we've established this already).

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences, and what my favourite things to do in Kurdistan are. I know there is someone out there who agrees with me because who doesn't like these things especially when you're home in Kurdistan.

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My Top Five Favourite Places In Kurdistan

I have been to Kurdistan a few times and throughout the times I have spent in Kurdistan these places most definitely have to be my favourite places to experience.

There are five places that I definitely want to experience again. Read below to find out what they are!!

1. my first favourite place in Kurdistan to go to is Gundê Wermelê. This is where some of my family members are from. I had spent my time in Gundê Wermelê and enjoyed the incredible view that allowed you to see Gundê Babirê as well. The village was very quiet when I went because most of the male individuals in the village had gone off to fight as Peshmerga, but the view over the hill was amazing. This is why it has become one of my favourite places to visit. Not only that, but I had ridden my first donkey there so it became a memorable moment for me. 

2. my second favourite place to visit is my grandpa's rez (garden). His land or garden that he plants is near the town of Qadêshê. Here you can see the most incredible view of the mountains. I am always so amazed by the mountains here that I used this picture for the original style of my website when I first started. I can't get enough of the views of the mountains, pretty much all my favorite locations are because of the view of the mountains. These pictures down below showcases the true beauty of Kurdistan on an everyday basis. The mountains are really my favourite places to be at I cant get enough of the view even in these pictures.

so beautiful

3. The third place that I cannot get enough of is probably one of my favourite places out of all the ones I have mentioned in this blog post. This place I honestly don't know it's exact location, but whenever I travel from Duhok to reach my father's village of Gundê Babirê we always go through this area. I fall in love every time because I am so close to the mountains than I've ever been before. I love how close the mountains are whenever my family and I drive through. It makes me so happy to be so close to the mountains because we cherish the mountains so much. As you can see in the photos below when the car goes in between the mountains it's such an incredible up-close feeling I don't think I have felt before. You can almost touch the rocks as you drive past, which is why this has become one of my favorite places to see. I have memorized the journey to my father's village just so I can prepare myself when we reach this part of Kurdistan. This is so I can just stick my hand out and try to touch the mountain. I've taken so much videos and pictures driving past it I fell in love with it.

4. The fourth place that is my favourite places in Kurdistan. This is Gundê Eradina, as Gundê Eradina represents the Christian side of the village and the Muslim side of the village. The Muslim side of the village (where my mother lived) was up the mountain and the Christain side was below the mountain. The waterfall and glass structure is placed below the mountain on the side of the street. I love what they did with the village allowing individuals to stop and reflect. The waterfall is beautiful bringing fresh water from the top of the mountain allowing individuals to drink and refresh themselves. As well the structure that was built in Gundê Eradina represents all the individuals who were from Gundê Eradina that sacrificed their lives to protect Kurdistan. Their names are embedded in the structure with Mullah Mustafa Barzani and Masood Barazni picture in the middle and the Kurdistan flag on top. This structure that was created made this my favorite place to see and visit. Cherishing the moments of sacrifice the peshmergas have done for the people of Kurdistan allows me to continue to love my country. It's crazy looking at the all the names that are from this village alone and thinking about the ways they protected my family in Kurdistan. I love going there and praying that God gives the peshmerga the highest levels of heaven. 

5. The fifth and last place that has become my favourite place in Kurdistan is a place that my family and I came across when we went to visit a village on the edge of Bashurê Kurdistanê (South Kurdistan). It was seen as the last village before you reached the man made borders of Bakur (North Kurdistan). While we were driving back to Duhok we came across this secluded area that almost looked like it has not been touched by humans. We arrived during the perfect time too, while the sun was setting. We stopped and took videos and pictures, I fell in love with the moment and the nature of Kurdistan. It was so quiet and almost felt like time had stopped for a moment because we did not see anything but a beautiful sunset and mountains surrounding us. I definitely cherished this moment and memory with my father. I hope I can go back soon and visit not only the village that we saw that day, but end up traveling down this path again. 


I hope you enjoyed this blog post of my favourite places In Kurdistan. If you ever have a chance visiting Kurdistan I would definitely recommend these areas if you are like me and get lost in the sight of the mountains. Anything that has an amazing view and feeling are places that I want to visit and experience.

Thank you for reading and experiencing these moments with me. Let me know what you think down below. 


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Surviving Eid In Kurdistan

As Eid passed us not too long ago, I want to recap my Eid experience in Kurdistan. I had gone to Kurdistan for the summer with my father and soon my mother had joined. We had experienced Eid together with our family. This Eid created a lot of happy and sad emotions within my family, but I'd love to share the happy moments with you.

I'm very grateful to have experienced Eid in Kurdistan three times already. I have learned a lot on how Eids in Kurdistan are much different than the ones in Canada. As well I've learned a lot of tips and tricks to prepare yourself for Eid in Kurdistan and I'd love to share them with you. 

TIPS TO HAVE AN AMAZING EID IN KURDISTAN 

  1. This seems like a weird one to start with, but if you were fasting during the month of Ramadan and you'd stay up late then you know getting enough sleep to wake up EARLY for Eid is a big thing. In Kurdistan, they will wake you up at 6 a.m to prepare for the day.
     
  2. The second tip is to make sure you have your clothes laid out before hand because when you wake up at 6 a.m you will be too tired to even think about what you are going to wear.
     
  3. The third tip is for females or even males if you are into that, is to apply minimalistic makeup. This is because during the months I was there it was extremely hot and you will definitely sweat during the day.  
     
  4. The fourth tip, which is a warning is DO NOT STEP OUTSIDE DURING THE HOTTEST HOURS OF THE DAY. especially barefoot lol. Wait for the sun to start setting before you try spending your day outside in the heat, or if you know you are spending your day in the sun just make sure to prepare for the weather and protect yourself.

What you do during Eid In Kurdistan

Eid in Kurdistan is exciting because unlike Canada a large majority of the Muslim Kurds are celebrating. During the days of Eid, you would spend your days getting dressed up often times in Kurdish clothes and visit your family. During this Eid, I was In Kurdistan my father and I had gone to our families house and celebrated Eid with them. Taking pictures, and giving out candy was seen as a normal day during Eid. It was amazing because we knew everyone in the neighborhood and all the little children came and asked for Candy.

Not to mention, during the night before the kids in the neighborhood will go in the streets making noise and declaring that Eid is tomorrow for everyone to hear singing songs, and playing. That was probably my favourite thing to see, the kids on the night before excited to get up and celebrate Eid.

Eid In Kurdistan is very different than the Eid's I've experienced In Canada. Eids in Canada is not that exciting or celebratory for the Kurdish community. often times my family does not really do anything, but my parents do go to Kurdish houses for Eid. However, Eid in Kurdistan I definitely enjoy it more, because more people are celebrating.

Though this Eid was little weird because as I was going around saying hi to people in the neighbourhood I ran into a guy holding a monkey from the Duhok Zoo that was across the street. The monkey was able to shake your hand, give you a high five and take your candy from you lol. He was the cutest thing ever.  

What I Was Wearing 

For Eid I had bought Kurdish fabric that was made specifically for this day. The fabric I got is from Duhok (Siîka Duhokê). I had the dress made and wore it the first day of Eid. 

The Dress is a gray colour with purple designs with purple beads embedded with it. I loved this dress and the style of it, as I made it a Bahdini style dress (there is a string attached to the front of the dress). Unfortunately, the individual who made the dress made it a lot bigger than my actual size so the chest area was bigger than expected lol. 

Here are a bunch of pictures that I took from that day. I look so young because these were taken with my shitty ass iphone 4s in 2014. LOL 

Traditions 

During the days leading up to Eid, there are traditions that are often times practiced among the Kurdish homes. First being that people within a home make kadaz (picture shown below) 

These Kadaz are made with either coconut, walnuts, and dates. They are delicious and are often times made for Eid when people come to visit. During this Eid, all of the ladies in the house went in the kitchen and started making the Kadaz. I obviously had the best job ever which was to place the Kadaz on the tray. 

Another Tradition is....

another tradition that we have is adding Xena to our hands. This I've been doing ever since I was a young girl living in Winnipeg Manitoba. My mom used to add xena all over my hand and wrap it in cloth until the next morning, but I remember whenever I woke up the next morning my hands would feel like they are burning all over. My mom stopped putting it all over my hand and started just putting it on my finger tips (shown below). I did this in Kurdistan too with my cousins it came out really nice. I love this idea of xena during Eid because it is another way to spend time with family and celebrate. 


This recaps my Eid experience in Kurdistan, and all the things I saw, did and went through during the day. I hope we can all experience Eid in Kurdistan and continue to share experiences like this with family.

I hope you enjoyed a recap on my Eid experience in Kurdistan. 

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If you guys want to see a minimalistic makeup look that I mentioned as a tip when you are celebrating Eid in Kurdistan let me know down below and I can possibly start a new series on the website! 

Your comments are always appreciated.