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Benyamin Rezaei; Traveling with a World of Adventures
What you are reading is an interview with Benyamin Rezaei, an Iranian traveler, conducted in by “Deutsche Welle Persian”. Benyamin Rezaei, also known as Benyamin Marco, is a traveler, documentary maker, travel writer, and Iranian author who has journeyed to more than 80 countries and over 630 cities across 4 different continents. He has often traveled alone, embarking on journeys that have been mostly enriching, although at times, they may have come at a personal cost. We sat down with him on the occasion of his recent trip to Europe to learn more about this Iranian traveler, his motivations, and his travel experiences.
About His Latest Journey
He states that for his latest journey, he began traveling from Iran by car. During this time, he passed through countries such as Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Balkan countries, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, Belgium, covering a distance of around 14,500 kilometers in about 40 days. Now, he has arrived in Germany.
Where Did the Travel Story Begin?
He says: When I was in the third grade of elementary school in Iran, one day the geography book was placed on my desk by the teacher. I opened the book, and inside were mountains, rivers, plains, and of course, a world map. This world map was so fascinating to me that when I was in the fifth grade, I could draw all the countries from memory.
Benyamin Rezaei has gone through difficult times in his youth. He was 15 years old when he lost his father. He had to work alongside his studies to support his family. After obtaining his high school diploma, at the age of 22, he migrated to Istanbul with $110 and worked as a tour guide for tourists for four years.
After a while, he returned to Iran and studied tourism management at the university. Following that, he opened an airline agency but realized after two years that he wanted something different from life.
Beginning of Traveling
He says: I sold the entire agency for around 5 to 6 thousand euros and took the biggest risk of my life. I bought travel gear, loaded my belongings in the car, and began my journey. A journey for which I had no prior information. And that’s how Benyamin Rezaei became a traveler. He sleeps during his travels in tents, train stations, hostels, or at his friends’ homes, and he funds his travels through Instagram, writing travel books, bringing tourists from Iran to Europe, or working in exchange for a place to sleep and food.
Strangest Travel Experiences
Benjamin Marco says: The strangest travel experiences for me are a mixture of joyful and sorrowful moments.
When I was in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and East Asia, I encountered many unusual foods such as scorpions, snakes, frogs, and even duck embryo, which is served like boiled eggs. In Africa as well, I came across plenty of unusual dishes like rooster combs or cow blood.
There was a tribe in Africa that served fresh cow blood to guests as a beverage, and as a guest, you had to drink it. Or another tribe that spat on each other’s faces every morning as a greeting. I even saw a tribe that urinated in each other’s homes every morning to ward off evil spirits.
South Sudan: Love and Hate
But among all these countries and strange occurrences, there’s one country that I both love and hate.
It’s South Sudan. There was a tribe in this country called Mundari that I was very eager to see up close. I have fond memories of South Sudan because of this tribe and its kind people and lovable children, but due to an incident that happened to me there, I also have a bad memory of this country.
When I was in this country, I went to the city to change my ticket. I got on a motorcycle and was taken hostage by a group of people. They pointed a gun at me, and this experience was very painful for me. I thought the world was ending, and I wouldn’t make it out alive. In those moments, I thought about my mother, family, and friends.
I was held hostage for about 5 hours in a dark, room-like place. Those 5 hours felt like 5 years to me. Benyamin Rezaei says he was finally released through the mediation of the son of a local tribal chief, ending this few-hour-long nightmare.
Journey to Switzerland
He is now waiting for a group of tourists from Iran to join him on a trip to Switzerland. After that, he plans to travel to Norway with his own car. Benjamin intends to fulfill one of his future dreams by traveling to South America.