We see trucks lined up in a huge queue leaving the duty free port zone
Then is is back down the heat as we approach Bandar Abbas. Bandar is a ferry port, a very large cargo port and a very large Iranian navy port. It is right on the narrowest parts of the straights of Hormoz separating Iran from the UAE states. A huge chunk of the worlds oil passes in ships close to here. In history the Spanish, the Portugese and the East India Company from England have all established bases here.The United States patrol the straights constantly. That might not necessarily be helpful!
We find a hotel right in the centre of town. From our bedroom window I can see the Persian gulf just a city block away. I sniff the air. I smell a familiar smell. It is the smell of fresh gin and tonic wafting across from the fleshpots of Dubai about 100 km across the straights from where we are!
And now today is ferry day. Will we or won't we get on the ferry? . Does it still exist? I take a taxi out to the shipping company office. Yes, it does exist, Yes, is sails tonight. Yes, there is room on it! So a ticket is bought and the bike booked, too. Note to self, don't do what I did on the ferry to Iceland and forget to book the bike! I rush back to the hotel. We pack up, and off we go to the ferry terminal to do all the bike paper work, customs clearance etc
What a process. Lonely Planet warned us and they were right. Customs and Shipping combined took me 4 hours and involved vists to 12 different officials, two bike inspections and a mountain of photocopies. It made border formalities in Central America seem like a walk in the park.
At one stage the shipping man asks if I "would like a young boy?" I do a double take! At 10.00 am in the morning! However the offer is one of assistance from a young man standing by and I am helped by him as a "fixer" or guide and because many of the offices are well separated and not sign posted it would be impossible to do it alone. I am relieved that unlike Central America there is no bribing of officials, everything is absolutely above board and his fee seems to be built into the reasonably light wharfage and handling fee. In spite all of the bureaucratic hurdles to jump through everyone is hugely pleasant and helpful. In the terminal several locals insist on buying us cold drinks even though we still have plenty of Iranian Rials left.
I get the bike parked in front of the boat ready to go even though it is 9 hours to sailing time. I see the boat. The Interislander ferry it ain't! The Iceland ferry it ain't ! A cruise boat it ain't ! It looks not much bigger than the ancient dhowls tied up at he wharf. There seem to be no cabins. It might be a sleep on the deck for the 10 hour crossing. The guidebook suggests helpfully that we sleep in our vehicle! Anyway I console myself that whatever it is like it can't be any worse than being down the back an overnight economy seat on United Airlines!
We then wait at the terminal for 5 long hours to loading. Then the formalities of emigration. Then we are on Board. At 11.30pm ( 2 hours after sailing time!) I am allowed to put rage bike on the boat. I am not the last vehicle. The ramp comes up after me. 10 minutes later we are sailing. And thus we are off to Dubai. Hooray!