World cycling hints
We've had many many questions during our trip so far. And way too often we couldn't find answers. So here we are collecting detailed info about border crossings, visa applications etc. that we were particularly worried about at one point :). Click the buttons to find the information you need - hope it helps you!
However, if you want to know something else, feel free to click this button to ask us:
SPACE FOR MORE TO COME!!
The ferry from Bandar Abbas to Dubai in 2018!
We took the overnight ferry boat called "Sunny" on December 2nd in Bandar Abbas and arrived on December 3rd in Dubai. Taking the ferry was a really good experience!
To buy the ticket you have to go to a travel office in Bandar Abbas. We went to different ones but liked the one at the big roundabout (green mark in the map) the most, because they were really helpful and kind. For a ticket without a bed you have to pay 3.6 Mio. Rial, for a bed it will be 3.9 Mio. Rial - we took the bed. Note that there are two ferries: the new and cheaper ferry "Sunny", which used to work between Germany and Sweden and only takes passengers and cyclists, and another old one that is also taking trucks and cars onto it and is more expensive. So if you can - take the newer one! And don't take the last opportunity boat if you have to stick to a schedule. Ferries, especially the old one, are often canceled (also spontaneously on the day of departure), which happened to us as well... So come with patience and flexibility! :D
On the boat you first have to go to a reception to "check-in". You also leave the passport there and sign the rules of the boat, one whole page written in Arabic letters, haha. Then you will be able to go to your room. Until you get the key card for the room you will have to ask several times, the distribution of the cards is a real mess.
Our boat should leave the harbor at 18:00, and we were told to be there at 14:00. Actually we arrived at the harbor at 15:30, and invested the last Iranian rial into some food in the entrance hall. On the boat, however, you will not be able to pay in Rial. They have an exchange office on board though, changing Rial to Dirham. At 15:30 in the harbor hall it was really busy. All the luggage has to pass through a security scanner to enter the second hall. So many people, bringing 200-300kg of luggage or grocery in paper boxes. It takes ages, so you better come earlier than we did and get the bikes and your luggage on the boat before everyone else arrives and people queue up. In the second hall you will queue up again, to give your bike and the luggage (only what you don't need on the boat) into the cargo. No need to deflate the tires or anything. But take care to not put any valuables or fragile things into the cargo, because they do not handle it with too much caution. After giving everything into the cargo you can say goodbye for the last time to the Chomeinis before your passport will be checked again and a bus brings you to the boat.
When you take the ferry, strange things and procedures will happen. So here are our experiences, just to prepare you a little and reduce the confusion we experienced, haha:
As soon as the boat has left the harbor of Bandar Abbas, women are allowed to take off the hijab scarf. Don't worry if you're the only western girl. Just do it, it is fine and no one will say something about it or look strange at you.
But the rooms are cool, they have windows to the sea, nice beds with blankets and everything, in the wardrobe you'll find even a toothbrush and some (old?) soap. There is one shared "bathroom" for two rooms, which has a toilet and even a shower. By the way on the boat there is a cinema, that will show a movie. And you can buy food, but no alcohol (as you might have wished for after crossing Iran, haha). And the food is not good and expensive. The water dispensers were empty after a short time, so better bring enough food and drinks for yourself.
On the next morning you will be told very early to empty your room. No need to do so. Many Iranians stayed in as well until the boat really reached the harbor. So don't get stressed. Before leaving the boat you have to bring back the key card to get your passport at the reception again. Then men and women will leave the boat separately, which takes ages again. But: Ladies first! And no idea why, but you won't be allowed to take the stairs. Instead, all passengers will be brought down in groups of five or six with the elevator. It will take a while until you can leave the boat.
After the boat arrives in the harbor it will take another 2-3 hours until you will be able to actually go. When you leave the boat, there are a pick-up truck and a bus waiting and you are told to put your hand luggage into it. REFUSE THAT! The things on the pick-up will be gone for some hours and you won't have access to them. We even heard from other cyclists that valuable items were missing after they got the hand luggage back. When you are insisting on not giving away your things to the pick-up, you will not have to do it :).
When there are more cyclists, you don't have to hop onto the bus like all the other passengers. Instead they will bring the bikes and you cycle, accompanied by a car of the harbor police to the immigration office. Make sure to not lose sight of the car. We did so and it took us a while to find the immigration office on the huge harbor area.
In the immigration office men and women are separated again. You'll sit on chairs until all the passengers are there. Then the console will randomly take a bunch of passports, asking "Mochim?". Just tell him you don't understand what this word means and give him your passport as well, then it will be much quicker. After the passports are stamped bunch by bunch they are given back and the guy carefully checks if the faces fit to the passport. A funny thing to observe is that the hijab ladies with covered faces have to lift the "curtain" for him to check.
Next to the immigration office is the luggage room, and you'll hopefully find your luggage somewhere in the chaos, send it again through a scanner and then you'll be finally set free. Welcome to the Emirates!