Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 192-193 Bandar Abbas - Sharjah - Dubai

Khoda hafez Iran, hello shining plastic city of Dubai!
Today the ferry ticket booking system problems were gone, so around 10 I had the ticket. I had a lot of time - the ferry was supposed to leave at 9pm, checkin at 6pm. Except for shopping for smuggled goods there is not much to do in Bandar. I just relaxed at the hotel and the waterfront. Nevertheless I managed to be a bit late for the ferry check-in: just when I was about to leave the hotel Internet came back to Bandar, so I quickly wrote to some couchsurfing hosts in Dubai. After the 8km ride I arrived around 6.20 at the port. There two other cyclist were also waiting for the ferry: Iranian Mousa and English Dean, along with Italian backpacker Giorgio - all of them more or less on the way to India.
Some minutes after 9 we could board the ferry - which was very nice! We locked our bikes at the car deck and went up to the passenger deck, which had 3 areas: one with soft benches (good for sleeping), one with comfortable Airplane-style chairs and an open area with more seating. The ferry was not full at all - one of the two car decks was empty and on the passenger area everyone could easily find a bench for sleeping on. On the bench area dinner was served.
Mousa had a Ney (kind of flute) on his bike - around 10 we left the port while playing music.
Between Bandar and Qeshm many ships were anchored - very atmospheric in the night with the quiet sea and all the illuminated vessels around.
We had a lot to talk and some music to play, so it was long after midnight when I tried to find some sleep. I slept a bit, but woke up a few times to look at the nearly full moon over the sea - it was just too nice to sleep. Around 7 breakfast was served - I had it outside, combined with the sunrise over the sea. Travelling by boat is just so beautiful - I really don't want to take an Airplane to get to India, but I fear there is no other affordable way.
We arrived in Sharjah around 9 and that is were the trouble began:
10:00 we could leave the ferry and followed a police car to the immigration hut.
10:15 all Iranians were sent to an 'eye-check', which was not necessary for Europeans - I have no idea what this was about
Then a long time nothing happened
11:30 two cocky Emiratis appeared who:
- looked like they had way to much opium last night
- really seemed to hate their jobs
- thus were very busy smoking and keeping their agal (that black thingy holding the headdress) in place
- finally started to stamp a few passports until
12:15 their computer broke down - they had managed to get maybe 10 passports stamped until then
12:30 after some discussion the Emiratis just left and nothing happened for some time
13:00 a bus appeared, brought everyone to another passport control building. Here everything went surprisingly comparably fast.
14:00 We could finally collect our bikes and get on the road!
We had the following objectives: money, food, mobile internet, beer, place to sleep - it took us some time until all of them were accomplished. Both Dubai and Sharjah look like a big disneyland, quite a difference when coming from Iran! It took us some time to get to Dubai - theoretically it is only about 25km, but as we wisely decided to the highways it was more than 50km for us. While waiting for our Emirati mobile to get activated we searched for and finally found a beer, the first one for two months - and, as it is Dubai, pretty expensive: 5€!
I could finally check my mail to see that couchsurfing did not work out. Furthermore, the couchsurfing website is blocked in the Emirates! I guess it is seen either as a dating site or more likely as something unwanted in a city relying so much on up-price tourism.
We all had different plans, so we decided to split: Dean would be collected by a friend, Mousa did not want to spend more than 10€ for a room (impossible in Dubai) so he went searching for a place to camp, I wanted to have a bed and a safe place for my bicycle.
I tried to go to the Dubai Youth Hostel about 10km away, but heavy traffic incl. road construction and tiredness made me turn back and search for a place to stay in the Deira, the old town of Dubai. I was very happy when I found a room at Al Uruba Hotel in the middle of the gold souq - only 170Dirham (more than 30€} /night, that is cheap in Dubai!
The room and hotel staff however are very nice. That was the point when I actually started to find some likable things about this crazy city: the gold souq area has some athmosphere (if you can ignore the constant fake-watch offers) and there are many Indian restaurants around. Fully veg.! And real Indian! Very tasty and very spicy! That is were I met again Yannik - he had taken another route from Yazd to Bandar and has been in the Emirates for some time already.

1 comment:

  1. great story.. and to meet up with yannik again.. cool..

    the world, definitely is a small place :)