It was time.
I heard many stories about Kish and I was both scared and excited see them with my own eyes. To all of you who don’t know, Kish is an Island in Iran, 30 minutes away from Dubai. If you plan to go here in Dubai, you’ll be soon acquainted with Kish because when your Visit Visa or Tourist Visa expires, you have to exit UAE and then enter again with your new Visa. As of writing, UAE doesn’t require you to exit to your home country yet so it’s customary for expats to exit to Iran or Oman.
My new colleagues and I booked our ticket to Kish from a Ticketing Agency near our office and left Dubai 3 days later. It was really exciting. It was just us girls, pulling our luggage at the airport, off to new adventures and looking forward to our new job once we get back. The plane was small and we were near its tail so it was noisy all throughout the flight (I still had a good nap though!). We were given snacks on the flight before we landed 30 minutes later. The first time I landed my eyes on Kish, all I thought was “Wow, it’s quiet”. We were taken by a transport bus from the plane runway to the airport building and the moment we entered the door, we have to go to the changing area at the right and don our Abaya and Shella. The Abaya is free from the airport, but the scarf is not so you have to bring your own. If there’s one thing you need to know about Iran is they are strict with their dress code. You cannot go outside of your hotel without proper clothing – Shella covering your hair, Long top falling mid-thigh with long sleeves, long bottom near your ankles. We were warned that the Police roaming around the street won’t tolerate people who disrespects their dress code so, you have been warned.
After we were properly dressed, we fell in line at the immigration booth as they stamp our passports and then went to claim our luggage after. We were told to sit at the waiting area and wait for everybody else to finish. We were then gathered and ushered to the buses waiting outside. They will be the one who will transport us to the hotels. You can research about hotels in Kish and you can choose any hotel you want if you like so you can ask the drivers which bus can take you there (You don’t need to pay for that bus ride by the way). It was like they were waiting for us, there were no questions asked, as if we were students done with the field trip ready to go home.
Our group was sent to the Farabi Hotel’s bus first, which was also fine since it was where we wanted to stay, not because it was the best hotel but because Kish Air Ticket Agency is just beside it.
On the way to the hotel, we were amazed by the island. Kish is a quaint and quiet and would give you the idea that it was a little rural area, just beginning to become urbanized. The little island was almost like a ghost town. You will not see a single soul on the streets, the houses look closed and empty, there were no kids outdoors or on school buses or other cars for that matter. Even the malls are closed. The place was so surreal. It was too quiet and most of the buildings are under construction as if everybody got abducted in the middle of the day.
Upon arriving in Farabi your passports will be collected. Though we were hesitant to hand over our passports (consider it gold the moment you leave your country), it was a requirement so we did. You will only get it back once you check out. You will have to give them a 100 AED down payment which will be given back to you if you would not consume its value. My colleagues and I requested to have the same room and luckily, there was an available room that has 5 unoccupied beds — luckier still because one of our colleagues who’s flight was later that night was still able to stay with us.
There are no single rooms in Farabi, as far as I know. There are 10 beds in one unit and 4 of them are inside a separate room. There’s one small kitchen on which no cooking is allowed, there’s one bathroom and there’s no dinning table so you have to settle with the coffee table to eat your food. The TV has no cable and there are only local channels so it’s no use, there are no places to visit during the day so you’ll be stuck in your room the whole day, counting the hours until your new visa arrives. The only thing you can do is to rent a (slow) computer and chat with your family and friends to pass time.
Lucky for us, we were to take an exam when we get back to Dubai so we used up all those empty hours to study. It was like we were on jail. We were all so homesick.
When the days rolled and we finally got the hang of it, aside from sleeping and eating, we took the time to know each other. We had varying ages so there were lessons learned, stories told and new found friendships started. And for all that free time we had, we were thankful because we had the chance to know each other.
Waiting for a Visa is like waiting for a rain in a year-long drought. It’s like waiting for a sip of water after a long starvation. It’s like a cure after a plague. It was that one thing that keeps people from sleeping and wakes people up in the morning. Each person in Farabi hotel has their own stories. Sad, scary and humbling stories. There were murders and suicides. There were hopelessness and desperation. And to hear them all from your fellow Kabayans is just really depressing. There were people who were already staying there for months, some were forgotten by their employers and some were left by their loved ones. Some people had nothing else left with them and nothing else to wait for.
Indeed, Kish was a place of expats’ dreams and nightmares.
Days rolled off when we finally got our Visa. It was an amazing feeling! — only our Visas had one slight problem, which I won’t discuss here. But it was amazing nevertheless. It was an experience I’ll never forget and I promise you won’t too. Just keep in mind to stay safe and stay in group you’ll be fine!:)
Extra Things to Bring in Kish:
- Small water heater if you have
- Patience and Hope