TRAVELING ACROSS IRAQ FOR a week

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iraq has for my entire life only been a

synonym

of one thing american and coalition

forces are in the early stages to disarm

iraq it is now a full-scale

invasion we didn’t find any weapons of

mass destruction the militant surge

continues men took to the streets with

every weapon they could

find the u.s is continuing the war

against isis

yet recently as i’ve grown more curious

about world history

i connected two dots that i never

connected before

that the mesopotamia that i studied in

history class as a kid

considered one of the most ancient

civilizations and in fact often referred

to as the birthplace

of modern civilization was in fact

located in what today

is iraq but unfortunately iraq’s highly

complicated history has made most of the

world forget that

and sadly a large portion of the

country’s historical places haven’t

survived the countless wars

the nation has been subjected to over

centuries

but there are a few hidden places and

ancient traditions in

iraq still standing today notably the

yazidi religion

hidden in the mountains of northern iraq

they are considered one of the oldest

religions

likely originating all the way back

seven thousand years ago

some of the oldest christian churches in

the world still stand in iraq

and the brave local population still

living there are said to be incredibly

welcoming

and generous to go on a trip like this

you need an experienced team the person

who first suggested this trip to me was

drew binsky

a travel storyteller who’s been

documenting stories from every corner of

the world

for the past 10 years i’m getting

cultured here in equatorial guinea

exactly then lexi limitless who is in

fact

the youngest person to have traveled to

every country in the world and is coming

back to explore more of iraq

with us then corey martin who captures

some of the best cinematic travel

content and also directed the iceman

documentary we helped produce

last year and last but not least our

wonderful local friend and guide for

this trip

buttercup buttacon was born and raised

in iraq

and is on a mission to show his country

that you can travel even with the worst

passport in the world he’s already been

to more than 70 countries even though

getting visas anywhere with an iraqi

citizenship

is very difficult although the earliest

memory from his childhood

is living in a refugee camp he’s one of

the most positive and goofy people i’ve

ever met

and i cannot wait for you to see that

[Music]

i got the rack stamp and my passport the

custom guys were like

youtuber youtuber for the first time

in our lives entering the country of

iraq

where is this

when i was here a year and a half ago he

showed me around he has the world’s

greatest

since badakhan doesn’t live in the city

he had asked on his instagram if someone

would be open to hosting some strangers

over for dinner and when angie answered

little did she know that she’d be

hosting her favorite creators

at her house

[Music]

hello hello welcome

that sentence doesn’t make any sense

settle everything in

okay good here take all the time every

meet and greet like your phone number in

usa

everything is just like i’m never gonna

meet these guys

well like impossible and like right now

you’re here in our house

that’s so weird

[Music]

[Applause]

where we going man excuse me

[Laughter]

which troop you want to go mars moon

[Laughter]

i’m laughing because of weather

tomorrow we’re gonna leave um ariel

i feel sorry for the little guy like

give me

this [ __ ]

uh i suggest you guys to sleep when you

go back to your countries like use all

our energy here

or we can sleep when we die yeah

at this point you’re probably wondering

how dangerous

is a trip like this and the truth is

that in a country like iraq

things can happen at any moment northern

iraq although relatively stable still

sees weekly attacks from

various militia groups from the region

they fought a gruesome war against isis

and just

recently fought them off with many

refugee camps still existing

in the area however it is not as

dangerous

as the rest of iraq you see in 1991 the

northern part of iraq also called iraqi

kurdistan has been a semi-autonomous

region with its own border rules

technically the kurds are the largest

ethnic group in the world

without their own independent country

the other half of iraq

however is almost impossible to get into

and

is much more dangerous our plan was

therefore to do a week-long

loop around the northern part of the

country in the search of this region’s

hidden history

and tomorrow on our first day we are

going to have to get dangerously close

to the border to try to get access to

the most ancient christian orthodox

church

in the world and little did we know that

would be much riskier

than we thought

oh my god we’re gonna go deep in

kurdistan like we’re not lots of stuff

yeah we are so lots to learn and lots to

see

how do you feel about it i feel good

[Music]

we will leave the last kurdish personal

checkpoint

we will go an area which is kind of

buffer zone between peshmerga and

iraqi military hopefully they will let

us leave the last checkpoint because

mosul’s right there and we’re going like

almost to it and then we’re turning off

to the right

it’s right there at checkpoints thomas

don’t film like obviously that’s like a

reason for them to not let us pass

wow yes they’re playing soccer down

there

is there another we should go back this

way this is

  Travel In Chernobyl for a week

[Music]

right

yeah because of you for me it’s fine but

for you guys they will take you to the

court and like jail and

long process because you got into iraq

illegally my heart dropped when he was

like

yeah that was the arrest yeah that was a

lot

we passed the border right yeah at the

checkpoint

and then we’re gonna take another road

and end up in the buffer zone again

the curtis dropped yeah maybe you should

hold the steering wheel

you know

[Music]

after successfully treading close to the

iraqi border

we finally made it to marmatai built in

363 it’s recognized as one of the oldest

christian monasteries still standing in

the world

today most ancient places like this have

been destroyed over the years but

there’s a few and this one in particular

still standing it is the oldest orthodox

uh christian monastery in the entire

world survived

countless wars and more recently attacks

from isis

who tried to enter these small christian

villages

down in the valley you know minority

always live in fear

so they try to protect themselves it’s

so hard to be

a minority in the middle east a lot of

massacres over centuries but they

survived imagine

this is telling the story wow

so some people think about christianity

that it’s born

somewhere else but it born here in the

middle east

when was this founded in the 4th century

imagine

[Music]

there’s very very few people here

walking around and naturally it’s

because it’s protected

but also i mean how many people make it

all the way to this part of iraq

[Music]

oh

[Music]

although i felt like we had seen nothing

but the beauty and openness of the iraqi

people

on the drive we also couldn’t help but

see some scars

from wars past and present so i wanted

to get a better understanding of the

situation here from someone who’s been

living

through it what’s the first memory you

have for me and

for a lot of people who born here my

first

childhood memory on the border we flew

from saddam regime troops to the

iranian border i was just four years

old kid and we were scared that um when

saddam hussein regime

troop get in they will massacre everyone

so your first

memory was basically in like a refugee

camp

on a border and i’m very thankful for

what i saw

what i experienced how long were you

there for uh

it was couple weeks but it was very hard

because there was no enough food

that was just the beginning of more wars

saddam again the kurds

were and also again the international

community against saddam

and later on iraq war and we continue

with al-qaeda

and then isis so we adapted

all these struggles and we made

fun of it in order to live and build our

country and be better version of

ourselves

we made fun of and made a lot of jokes

about our situation

is that why yeah that’s why i keep

laughing when you give energy you will

get it back

so if you keep laughing believe me you

will get

a lot of laughters

when i talk about it i get a little bit

emotional because

because we should make sure that our

next generation will not face the same

thing

[Music]

so in 1991 we kicked

out saddam regime from kurdistan since

1991 we are ruling ourselves by

ourselves

we have our own president our own

parliament

so when you guys overthrew like the

saddam regime these kind of prisons and

everything

became abandoned so at the beginning

people used it as

a shelter because of the war and later

on

uh became a kind of refugee place for

displaced people

so some of them turned into museums so

we will not forget what happened

so this is one of saddam hussein’s

abandoned prisons

yes like even now i get what you call

goosebumps

because of what we went through

[Music]

some other things written in arabic

praising the regime saddam regime

back in time is it weird for you to be

in here

yeah it’s very weird

a lot of people lost their lives in here

and it’s uh it’s a very emotional

place to walk around for buttahn when i

think of a prison i think of people like

in a cell like being being fed and stuff

but they can’t like leave

when you think of prison is it like

they’re being tortured yeah torching and

killing

wow so they came here to be killed yes

or maybe if they were lucky enough they

could get out but

after uh getting horrific trauma

but so hard yet to be here also

[Music]

wow

[Music]

whoa these are bullet holes

pretty crazy walking around here

especially because when you’re in the

city

and you’re with people like badar khan

you can forget about

all of the really intense history that

happened

really not so long ago how do you feel

being in here

i don’t feel good actually because it’s

so hard to see like um

your relatives your people

got killed here or got tortured but also

on the same time it’s good to be here to

see to not forget what happened and make

sure to work hard

to not repeat it again for next

generations

life is beautiful

you said that you’re happy that it

happened is there a part of you that’s

sad when you think about your childhood

i get emotional and i say

i ask myself should i start crying and

they say oh no time to cry let me

continue

you know for being a kid seeing

a lot of hate and racism

it’s really hard like we introduced to

hate and racism before even knew the

what does it mean

like later i figured out oh there’s a

word for racism

there’s a word for hate when i travel

people told me like

why you want to go back to iraq why are

you going to go back to kurdistan

it’s war zone it’s unstable area but

believe me

we born here and we will die here if we

don’t be part of

changing the society changing our

country

to and develop it and construct it to a

better

thing then who would do it we bring like

random people to

fix things no it’s not about just

surviving

it’s about education it’s about

progression

it’s about becoming better person

building so i’m so happy that our

people are adopting all these things and

going through

stronger you know like when someone

tries to push you

you stand up stronger we shouldn’t just

wait for a miracle to happen

people will are the miracle people are

  Exploring Dubai

doing those things

changing um one mentality

changing one stereotype slowly slowly

the changing will

the circle will grow more and more and

more and later on

people will not call me a terrorist they

will call me a tourist

[Laughter]

[Music]

we’re on our way to see the citadel in

the center of herbal

and uh it’s friday which is uh the local

day off

and we’ve been completely stuck in

traffic for past 30 minutes

so now we’re gonna have to walk to the

[Music]

citadel

[Music]

i think most people when they think

about iraq they just think of war

and of isis and conflict but the truth

is

this is where civilization started and

this citadel is the testament of that

and it’s also fascinating the fact that

they’ve

preserved it and been able to sustain it

and the fact that there’s still a family

living here

six thousand years after it was

estimated that the citadel was built

all right let’s go catch up with the

group

[Music]

are people usually allowed in here no so

even if it wasn’t

a pandemic if it was not closed down no

one is allowed to get in here

[Music]

[Music]

before we continue with this video i

just want to mention that the only way

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more videos like this one

then go to seekdiscomfort.com now back

to iraq

[Music]

on our third day in iraq we drove to the

city of duhok

to explore the local markets and try

some let’s just say

interesting cuisine this city is so safe

they

literally leave 100 bills just

behind a glass shelf on the street

everywhere this is crazy we are

exploring

and discovering markets here in duhok

[Music]

the best part about walking around here

is the incredible smells from all of the

spices and the tea

[Music]

whoa i’ve never tasted anything like

this what is this

magic drink it’s not every day that you

get a flavor that you’ve never even gone

close to tasting before

one thing that the guys probably haven’t

noticed since

we’ve been walking around this market is

that

it is probably 90 90 percent

all men in these markets on the street

it’s very rare to see women if they if

there are women there’s a lot of them

with

uh their families with children and it

just shows that

like while we’re traveling especially

solo the

experience can be very different for a

solo female traveler

in this region of the world than it is

for a man

i feel so unattentive for not having

noticed that

now we are heading to get some

traditional lunch let’s go check it out

and see uh what strange foods kurdistan

have to offer

[Music]

dude what is that why is it dripping

[Music]

many jokes i can make right now but yeah

we’ll save them out there

[Music]

[Applause]

[Music]

[Laughter]

dude

[Music]

pretty good oh there it is there’s the

balls

i’m not a fan of that i don’t mind i’m

not a fan of that

round two

yeah you have a lot of options a lot

well we’re buying some clothes for the

uh

we’re going to tonight we’re on a

wedding yeah

yeah i’ve never seen the female kurdish

clothing before but if it looks half as

good as

buttercon’s clothes does it’s gonna be

pretty great

look at this guy look at here

[Music]

[Music]

we are on our way to crash a kurdish

wedding i don’t know what’s happening i

don’t know i don’t know whose wedding it

is i don’t know where it is

i don’t know what we’re supposed to do

we’re questioning a curtis wedding

[Music]

well we crashed the curtis wedding at

least we didn’t put these outputs on for

nothing

exactly good that’s exactly the kind of

moment we want

to end our trip we decided to visit the

4 000 year old city of lalish

the holiest city and home to the ancient

yazidi religion

although there’s only about a million

yazidis in the world we had heard of

a yes fam member who was a yazidi and

decided to surprise him

with a call what’s up bro oh my gosh

thomas i’m doing very well can i take a

screenshot

yeah absolutely yeah he said the stories

on instagram you have even fans

in lalesh imagine wow i mean it’s

unbelievable from

for me to think that there’s people that

watch yes theory

in kurdistan in iraq

so we have to remove our shoes because

we are entering

uh the holy place for the acd’s you have

uh

long yeah yeah yes i haven’t worn pants

in like

months i haven’t worn anything butt

pants this entire trip

thomas oh my gosh

is that you yeah what made you to come

here

i can’t believe it that one day you

would be hearing kirsten i can’t believe

it was sick discomfort

how’s your english so good just from

your story videos and movies

oh that’s great what’s your name my name

is

zayn yes spam all the way out in lalish

yeah

you want to take us around should we go

around yeah

[Music]

thank you very much

thank you for taking us around this is

so great

oh my god you can only be born into the

yazidi religion

yes there is no like entering to the

yazidi religion and there is

no going outside it’s actually

like a grave for the religious guy that

i’ve

talked about each color belongs to a

tribe of yazidis

he’s hoping that all your wishes come

true he’s kind of praying for you people

they hope to get married and

they don’t find the right girl this

guy’s praying for you

to find the right girl what’s your name

corey

[Music]

as i told you we think as yeti we think

that the first place which got created

after the big bang

was slavish and this is the main gate

in lavish we are yazidis are living

peacefully with our

muslim brothers and there’s no problems

actually all of my friends are muslims

all of my best friends are muslim are

you worried that the religion is slowly

phasing out because you have to be born

yazidi

uh actually all of these idiots are

worried about this

especially when isis came they killed

thousands

thousands of yazidis because yazidis

were their target because they were from

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minorities and a different religion how

many years ago did isis

uh come in 2014. so six years ago yeah

very recent there was so you can say

everybody has family and friends that

were affected

everywhere even when isis came i was

affected by them

i left my school i left my house i left

so many things

we went to the turkish border we stayed

there for two months and after isis was

beaten by peshmerga

we went back i left my school i left my

dreams behind

i remember this i was in school okay

listening to the teacher

and the strike bombs of the of the

strike the shock waves

like my desk was shaking my window was

shaking and we got used to it

there are people who are still not in

their houses they are staying in camps

until now and what’s the situation right

now that the isis is gone

and most of the yazidis are returning

back to their houses

but the sinjar city because it’s very

destroyed

people cannot go back because their

houses there’s no house if he goes back

there’s just the

flat earth we’ve gone through a lot man

so from this story you will figure out

that people of the middle east we suffer

from terrorism more than anyone

else around the world so don’t sterotype

us with terrorists

so no matter if we are yazidi muslim or

jewish

we all pray for the same god mashallah

peace

so when i came up to ask this woman for

a

photo she invited us to try some of the

food that she just made

so she’s going and getting it right now

if you want more she can

bring more food if you want thank you so

much thank you is that

he’s got a very great

he’s saying that give what you have to

other people

because there is heaven and hell waiting

for you and

at the end you’re going to go there so

just give what you have the money all

the things that you have

give us

[Music]

so actually brought this for you i

forgot thank you

take it to the yes house please

well we are rolling into one of the more

scenic

parts of the trip so far and honestly

one of the most beautiful places that

i’ve ever seen

this is absolutely gorgeous when you

think of northern iraq i mean

nobody really thinks about beautiful

nature and mountains and waterfalls and

rivers and

that’s exactly what we’re seeing right

now get ready to

enter one of the most beautiful places

we call the los

eden we welcome our beloved tourists it

says on the sign

beautiful man like who would have known

that this exists here

right now we’re like higher up in the

mountains and it’s actually it’s

actually cold and this water

looks incredibly cold all right william

time for me to prove that i learned

something

oh

the water is so pristine though this is

absolutely gorgeous

i was not expecting to find this in

northern iraq

[Music]

as our time in iraq came to an end as

this trip happened before afghanistan i

realized that this was the first country

i’ve ever traveled to that ended up

being completely different from the

stories i’d always been told yes

there is war but in the news that’s the

full picture

rarely do they talk about the generosity

of the people the inherent kindness

and the depth in the culture once again

i gained a whole new perspective

of what travel can truly do to one’s

perspective of the world

some trips are for joy some are just for

pure adventure

and others like this one challenge our

ideas of what the world and its people

are like spending time with butter khan

who is roughly the same age as me but

grew up in a completely different

circumstance

taught me that the greatest power we

have as humans and the path to reaching

our full potential as a species

is through empathy for each other and

staying open to those who may at first

seem different from us we are different

from outside but similar from inside we

share more things together that things

which make us a part

nowadays politicians they just spread

hate

to divide us in order to rule us easily

but if people of the world they just

come closer to each other

then they will realize how ignorant we

were before sitting next to each other

people think that on middle eastern

people hate americans no

we don’t hate americans we are humans we

just don’t like politicians no matter if

they are american

they are french they are kurds or the

arabs or iraqis or anyone

every year you check on the internet

they show iraqi passport the worst

passport in the world

they just brainwash us so that we cannot

leave the imaginary walls which they

built but believe me it’s not like this

we can travel outside so far i have been

to 75 countries

with iraqi passport and believe me we

can

double it but it’s not about numbers

it’s about

experiencing new things what do you

think iraq needs today

to heal like what do you think love

love because with love we can

change everything to better virgin if we

change

the mentality about how international

communities

look at us then they will understand we

are real people

don’t judge us come visit us and then

have conversation

with us have tea with us nowadays we

have islamophobia in the world

there is two billion people following

these beliefs we get judged

because of our religion before they knew

who is badar khan before

they knew who these muslim people they

judge us

directly oh he’s a muslim so he should

be a terrorist believe me

we suffer from terrorism more than

anyone else check the statistics how he

pronounces

statistics yeah you see where the

biggest

terrorism attacks happening it’s

happening here our people are dying so

we are not the terrorist people

we are just human just like like you and

i

but i’m really happy nowadays uh we get

we get a lot of positive messages from

all people from around the world from

different ethnicities different race

people showing love

and this is give us more energy to

continue

and to never give up and never look back

we might walk slow

but we will never stop

[Music]

i turn i didn’t hide that right there

here we go

you

 

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