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Bandar Abbas


Bandar Abbas. Iran's largest port with a reputation for smuggling activity, it was the most South I had been to date if not quite the furthest East, and with the Gulf States just a short hop away across the Straits of Hormuz the population was an eclectic mix of Persian, Arab, Indian and local Baluchis too. Waiting for the sun to come up over tea and ommelette, I spotted the first public display of prayer at 20 past 5 in the morning, a whole 4 weeks into Iran. The area is also synonymous with the Burqa and sure enough, 2 of the first women I saw were wearing this most unusual and slightly unnerving face mask with slits for eyes. It was normally complimented by tight leggings in very bright colours and black stripes, and they were undoubtedly the most striking people I had witnessed to date. Surprisingly the Burqa has no religious connotation and is thought to be a throwback to the Portugese who wore it as a fashion accessory. I could also guess that it had to have been adopted as a sun shield in part. Perhaps the melting pot was to be expected in a port town but there were hints of the subcontinent to come in the variety of dress, with some women notably devoid of the Chador in bright see-through saris and more people in open sandals. Melons and corn on the cob were now also on the menu. After checking that the post office was indeed closed there wasnt much to do except check out the fish market, with Burqa covered women proferring tuna, snapper and 6 foot long flying fish. Next, a walk along the waterfront and the pier where many small motor boats offloaded travellers laden with I guessed duty free goods from nearby Qeshm Island. The waterfront also offered al fresco tea and qalyan, and as the tide came in and the sun went down I tried lemon flavour for a change. The evening promenade then ensued and in response the seafront became a street market with snacks, cheap smuggled cigarettes and all the finest tack that China could offer (sic). Ships sat out at sea lit like Christmas lights but others also unexpectedly materialised, just visible as pinpricks. It had to be the islands of Qeshm and/or Hormoz which had lain undetected on the horizon in the full glare of day. Even at night women wore the Burqa so my newly formed sun shade theory was already struggling, many also carried heavy looking sacks or boxes on their heads in a style more akin to Africa, another first.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Iran

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