Backpacking 70-year-old hitchhiking through Iran video

Mahvash Ali/ Fairfax NZ

70-year-old Ahmed Asgher is getting ready for a hitchhiking trip through the Middle East.

Knitting, gardening, golf, bowls - not for Ahmed Asgher.

The 70-year-old retiree is an unlikely backpacker.

And his latest trip was going to be his most dangerous yet - with plans to try his luck at hitchhiking from Kabul in Afghanistan to Aleppo in Syria.

Ahmed Asgher says he is not worried about his safety because he only expects the best from people.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

Ahmed Asgher says he is not worried about his safety because he only expects the best from people.

But a mate has gone away, leaving him without a place to crash in Kabul so the Kiwi is settling for a three-month sojourn from the Persian Gulf through to southern Iran.

The Auckland local says all he needs is inner peace, his passport and a change of clothes.

It's his sixth hitchhiking trip. His list of adventures includes two hitchhiking trips to Europe and three in the Middle East. 

Never underestimate your potential. "There is a tree in this acorn," says Ahmed Asgher.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

Never underestimate your potential. "There is a tree in this acorn," says Ahmed Asgher.

Asgher says he prefers to hitchhike because it puts him close to the locals. 

"I love being around people and finding out about their stories."

Asgher says he came closest to "what people may consider dangerous" while travelling through Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1976 when he was shot at by the guards at the border.

Ahmed Asgher says he is looking forward to hitchhiking through parts of the Middle East and south of Iran.
MAHVASH ALI/FAIRFAX NZ

Ahmed Asgher says he is looking forward to hitchhiking through parts of the Middle East and south of Iran.

But despite his close encounter with bullets at the border he is not afraid to set off to the turbulent region again.

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"Everywhere is safe. Peace is not outside," he says.

 Asgher says he rarely stands on the side of the road signalling for a lift.

"You put word out and someone who knows someone will talk to someone else and there will be a ride ready and waiting for you." 

Asgher says he has an idea of his itinerary but will do most of the planning while on the journey. He plans to use a map, but does not believe in using GPS and he also prefers not to stay in tourist hotels.

Asgher will begin his journey through Iran by paying respect to his grandfather's grave in the Pars region of Iran. 

But first he will start off in April by heading to Dubai, before hitchhiking his way to Oman and from there he will take a boat trip to the island of Kish in the Persian Gulf. He will then return to land in Iran.

Next he plans to travel 500 kilometres to the the southwestern city of Ahwaz.

After Ahwaz he hopes to meet local gypsies and travel with them to Tehran.

Asgher says he cannot imagine his life without travel.

"I love travelling - it is in my blood." 

And he's not giving up on Afghanistan or Aleppo.

"I will still do that trip, but I need to have someone to put me up."

 - Stuff

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