Posts in Kurdistan
The Reality of Traveling To Kurdistan | As A Kurd

Probably the most difficult thing to do and explain to individuals who are not Kurds is the reality of what we as Kurds go through just to simply travel to the place that birthed our culture, traditions and even parents stories. Here are some of the reasons and the harsh reality of Kurds traveling to Kurdistan. These things I’ve experienced myself (and probably most of the diaspora population) or family members when merely just wanting to visit the homeland.

If you are a Kurd and experienced similar situations comment your experiences down below. If you are someone who isn’t Kurdish, but wants to get a small glimpse into this reality here you go… and thank you.

Traveling through turkey (its obvious)

No disrespect to the Turkish people who support the Kurdish cause, but the worst thing any Kurd can do is try to travel through Turkey. We probably all know why, or will find out soon. I’ve traveled through Turkey twice to go to the Kurdistan region and it was probably the worst thing in my life. Not only do you have to visibly hide any sign you are Kurdish, but when they ask you where you are traveling to you can’t even tell them you are traveling to the Kurdistan region. They will automatically make things a million times harder for you. I remember having red, green, and yellow Kurdish fabric tied to my suitcase just so I knew which one was mine, but right when we got into the Turkish airport my father made sure to tell me to take it off and not to speak Kurdish or tell them that we are Kurdish. It was probably the scariest reality I’ve had as a Kurd. Simply wanting to travel to Kurdistan, but in the back of your head fearing that something will happen while you’re there.

The checkpoints in and out of the Kurdistan region into Turkey is probably another one of our realities as Kurds. I remember waiting for hours with my father and this Kurdish driver to drive us back into Amed (Diyarbakir), but waited because the guards didn’t believe us. I don’t even have an exact reason to tell you because I don’t have a sufficient reason for why they did this. Making traveling hard for Kurds just because they are Kurdish is what happens in Turkey when you travel through there, the reality of traveling to Kurdistan.

My father and I told each other that we will not go through Turkey ever again, and its been years since I’ve done that and probably never will. Besides the fact that they will automatically interrogate you if you’re Kurdish, but I’ve had multiple problems with the mistreatment of suitcases and the long car ride that I had to take just to get to Duhok.

Airport shutdown??

Imagine traveling to Kurdistan just to be stuck in the region fearing for your wellbeing if you leave through Turkey or Baghdad. When the Iraqi government closed the Erbil International airport in 2017 a family member of mine was stuck there for 8 months. Not wanting to travel through Baghdad during the time because of the countries condition and the government ban and not wanting to go through Turkey because of past experience. He was stuck there hoping that the promises of the Iraqi government to open the airport again in the up-incoming months is true this time and they wouldn’t go back on their word, the reality of traveling to Kurdistan.

I’d definitely rather be left in Kurdistan with family than having to deal with those who oppress us on a constant basis to try and get back to the country you reside in.

No Kurdistan passport!

Anytime I tell someone that Kurdistan isn’t technically a country and that southern Kurdistan is only seen as a region they are shocked because I talk about Kurdistan as if it is, which is something that I do on purpose. But with no official country (YET) comes no official passport to show and hold that says Kurdistan on it. As a dual citizen It is definitely hard for my parents who escaped their home because government of Iraq to hold an Iraqi passport to use to get into Kurdistan. This is the reality for Kurds holding on to a passport that tries to identify where you belong, but can’t seem to accurately represent what is in our hearts and what we constantly show to the world, this is our reality.

How many plane rides??

For any Kurd living in North America the reality for us is the amount of traveling we need to do just to simply get to Kurdistan. I don’t mind the traveling because I know that Im traveling to where I want to be, but the amount of lay-overs, plane rides, and dealing with security if you live in North America is the worst. I remember we would take a plane from Toronto to Istanbul (this is when I traveled through Turkey) then from Istanbul to Amed then took a car from Amed to Duhok. I probably cried on the drive to Duhok because of how exhausted I was. Another time my family and I traveled was from Toronto to Frankfurt Germany (because of family reasons and the cost). Then from there we traveled to Istanbul, Istanbul to Amed and from there to Hewler (Erbil). After that we then drove back up north to Duhok, just writing this sentence gave me a headache imagine actually traveling like this.

Our reality is harsh, but I wouldn’t change who I am for anything. If you want to share your own stories about our reality traveling to Kurdistan comment it down below. I will share your responses on my Instagram and respond back!

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My Top Five City Destinations I Want To Visit | Kurdistan

Dreamers, Im here with another Kurdistan blog post and I know what you are thinking ANOTHER Kurdistan blog post, but its me Alko it shouldn’t be that shocking. I want to share with you all my dire need to visit these cities in Kurdistan that I have not yet seen. It’s crazy to me because for someone who was fortunate enough to visit you would think that I would have seen some of these cities, but nope. When I go back to Kurdistan these will be the first spots I travel to and finally experience for myself their beauty.


Akre during Newroz is probably my dream destination, I will make it happen. Akre is such a beautiful and historical city the photos I’ve seen of Akre during Newroz and during other months makes me fall in love with Kurdistan because of its beauty. I want to experience all that, especially during Newroz. To see the fire and everyone there celebrate, theres no question that I will be in Akre when that happens.


Rawaendez is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. The photos I’ve seen of Rawendez is the only reason why I want to experience it for myself. The unquestionable beauty that this place holds and the beautiful people that I know who are from there. If there are mountains and beautiful scenery Im already sold on the idea of visiting and this place has all that. I can’t wait to see it for myself and the amount of pictures I am going to be taking of this place is no joke.


I think that Halabja is the one place that I always wanted to go to even when I was a kid. Learning about Kurdish history and the what this beautiful city went through at the hands of Chemical Ali and Saddam Hussien gives me this need to see this city still standing. I want to see the museum and experience the people of this beautiful city. As a Kurd I think everyone should visit this city not only to see the museum, but to pay their respect to those who were affected by what had happened in 1988.


Lets just say that most of my visits to Kurdistan were strictly in the Duhok province, which I hated. I did not experience other parts of Kurdistan because of a simple excuse of “Theres only men going you can’t come” when I would ask my Dad. This is why once I am back in Kurdistan I will make sure I visit these cities and not take any excuses. Slemani is a city that I’ve heard a lot about, but never been too (duh). The city life of Slemani definitely what attracts me to this place, also because of the openness I’m guessing wont experience in other parts of Kurdistan. There are a lot of places within Slemani I want to visit and gain a better understanding and knowledge of Kurdistan’s history. I’m excited to see a whole other side of Kurdistan that I have yet to experience.


Yes, that is right I have not experienced Hewler yet. Well if you count being at the airport and getting in a car experiencing the city than okay. I wouldn’t really consider that experiencing, which is why I added this to my list. I have not truly experienced the oldest city in the world yet and I am ashamed. My dad has been, but never took me because (yes you guessed it) “Only men are going”. I want to experience the bazar and city life there, I want to see the Citadel and the cute book stores and coffee shops. I want to meet new people there, and practice my terrible Sorani.


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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.


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.


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

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. 


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!


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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



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💜👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🌸


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.