Published: August 5th 2010August 5th 2010
Packing the coach
Day 24 Esfahan to Tehran (Tues 27thJuly)
Up early for a 0800 start today. Heading back to Tehran for one night - our last in Iran. Since we have already travelled this leg, there were no real stops this time and the day went by rather quickly, with only 6.5 hours spend on the coach.
We made it to the hotel (the same 4 star hotel we stayed in just a few days ago) by 1500. However, despite the fact that we were in so early, we found that by the time we settled and ate, we were just too weary to go out anywhere. Tehran is not the friendliest feeling city in the world though so we weren’t really feeling any great desire to go out anyway.
We do know that tomorrow will be a very long day with our evening flights to Karachi (Pakistan) via Bahrain, and we are also very aware that our hotels in Pakistan will not be 4 star...
Day 25 Tehran to Bahrain Airport
A later start today. Our transfer to the airport is at 1400, so that leaves us plenty of time. After a nice long sleep
View from the hotel balcony
in, a group of us met LJ and Hamad (Iran tour guide) in the hotel lobby at 1100, to head down to the post office. There were 6 of us who wanted to post some stuff so we don’t have to carry it any further.
I had the most entertaining hour in Esfahan the other day watching as Jo went through her backpack to cull her luggage. I can’t believe how many clothes she had! In the end she just looked sheepish every time she pulled out one more garment... It was hilarious, and I have no idea whatsoever how she managed to fit it all in. I think in the end she sent home about 4kg just of clothes...
I just wanted to send home some souvenirs but since it was going to cost about €30 to send less than 2kg I ended up leaving it. In the end only 2 of the group actually sent their stuff off - for the rest of us it wasn’t worth the cost. Although of course it still took us over an hour to sort this out...
No one in these countries knows the meaning of the word queue,
Waiting... and waiting... and waiting...
and of course any Iranian’s who came in were promoted ahead of us in the aforementioned non-existent queue as well which didn’t help. The foreigners here stand out rather dramatically!
I did manage to finally send my postcards though, and if some of my family and friends receive cards with pictures of Brugge, but postmarked Iran - well, that just adds to the character...
I managed to get back to the hotel in time to have a quick shower and pack all my stuff for the flight. The weight limit is 30kg, so that wont be a problem, but I had to pack for ease of carrying. And since I didn’t send the stuff I was planning to post, that too had to fit in somewhere.
So we departed the hotel at 1400 and headed for the airport which was an hour away. We had originally been going to fly direct to Karachi with an Iranian airline but apparently Iran wouldn’t let in an outside party to verify their compliance with international safety regulations for their airlines and so we had to change to Gulf Air, which fly via Bahrain (because its pretty sure the insurance wouldn’t
The 8 Euro pint...
cover it otherwise...)
Our flight wasn’t until 1850 but we had to be there 3 hours early, especially being foreigners. And I must say it’s very nice not to be the one singled out for not having an EU passport. Now we are finally all in the same boat!
Security came first. They put everything through an x-ray scanner thing - main luggage and hand luggage. That in itself is interesting but the guys watching the monitors were actually chatting away with each other instead of actually watching - and I’m not sure what they were watching for as absolutely everything had to be scanned. Then there was a slight detour behind a wall for the women to go through their metal detectors (men’s was right out in the open) and the woman there had her baby asleep in a small basket by her side. As I walked though the detector, she said “check, check”, asked me to hold out my arms (as per usual) and seemed to decide that checking to see what my cup size was would be a good enough check. Or maybe she was just checking to make sure I really was a woman...
Our first glimpse of Pakistan
So after that rather bemusing security point, we headed off to check in. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the desk to open, and in that time a big party of Arab nationals came in. I think they wanted to check in first, because they lined all their trolleys up right at the desks with no room in between - and man did they have some luggage!! There seemed to be at least 2-3 suitcases PER PERSON. Clearly they don’t have a limit on number of bags...
The security is pretty lax, but then again I guess they dont have quite the same terrorism concerns as the western airports I am used to going through.
We decided to have a bit of a competition to see who wisely had the lightest bag - it seemed to be a unanimous assumption that mine would be the heaviest. And it very nearly was! However LJ’s just pipped mine by 0.5kg and that made me feel a bit better. And everyone was certainly less than 30kg! I believe mine was 23kg. And yes, I know that that is rather a lot - but hey it included 2kg of
View of Karachi from the Mazar-e-Quaid
souvenir stuff. Okay, okay, I know I have too much stuff, but it isn’t really all that heavy once it’s on the back, so I’m not too concerned. I have plenty of clothing that will be chucked as soon as we are through the Middle East and west Asia and are able to wear slightly more revealing clothes again.
In the end our flight was delayed an hour but since we have a 5 hour stop over in Bahrain, it wasn’t a big deal at all. Apparently there was bad weather in Karachi earlier that day and they weren’t even sure we would be able to fly in.
We finally boarded and our seats were all over the place. I have no idea of how they assign seats, but I don’t think there is any particular order to it all. This flight was only about an hour and we even got a nice little snack on the flight.
Arriving in Bahrain, our clocks were backwards again by 1.5 hours, which was fairly important considering we had another flight to catch. In the airport, we managed to find an Irish pub - I mean hey, what other kind
of pub would you find in such a place? After a week without a drink, everyone was happy to stop for a couple. Not even the prices kept anyone away! Although I cringe to think I could actually spend €8 on a pint of beer...
Day 26 Bahrain Airport to Karachi
Our next flight was at 0045 but they didn’t announce the gate until just a few minutes beforehand. So we all made a quick trip down to the correct gate for our shuttle bus out to the plane. By this time we were all rather tired and poor Jana nearly fainted which caused everyone to worry she wouldn’t be allowed to fly. Fortunately she managed to get on without too much difficulty and we all settled in for a slightly longer flight this time. I'm not even sure how long it took, since I was asleep before we even took off.
Arriving in Karachi we were met by Amjad, our Pakistani guide and shown to our coach. The hotel was not too far off and we quickly settled in before grabbing a quick breakfast and then some sleep
We all slept until 1400,
A beautiful Sunset
when we met up for a quick trip to the money exchange. Always good to have the right currency...
At 1600 we met up in the lobby for a drive around Karachi. First we visited the Mazar-e-Quaid, which is the tomb of the founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was an amazing structure and you could see the city skyline from the doorways. We had to take our shoes off before we went up the hill and we saw the changing of the guard as well.
Actually I think here the other visitors took more pictures of us than of the tomb! And people kept asking if they could get a photo of their children with us! It was the most bizarre feeling! Apparently it is something we will have to get used to though.
Our next stop was the beach where we watched the sun set over the Arabian Sea. It was beautiful, if a little on the aromatic side...
And here the beggar children had fun climbing all over Stephen, who was taking pictures. Real little posers they were.
And our final stop was for dinner. Unfortunately everything except the bread was spicy - so guess what I had for dinner? Even the yoghurt dip had copious amounts of pepper (well, perhaps the others would describe it as a slight taste of pepper - but certainly too much for me)! Oh well, at least the view was stunning, as we were on the rooftop terrace.
Heading back to the hotel, we managed to get a crate of beer, and so all hung out in the "snooker room" playing pool and enjoying a few drinks. And yes, these were a bit cheaper than at the airport!