Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Departure

May 5, 2014 

I hate airports, but to use the word "hate" for Imam Khomeini Airport is an understatement in every sense. First, there is not enough parking space at the airport, so if someone is dropping you off or picking you up, they should park their car in a parking close to the airport and take a shuttle bus to the terminals. This can ruin your trip right from the start. 

What is more, the inadequacy of the staves for check in, passport control, and making payments. By the way, all Iranians have to pay about $23 if they are flying overseas. So... If it is high season, you are in to waste 3 hours for getting through passport control. Don't forget to save some more time if you have to pay for your excess baggage. 

I was lucky to enjoy the "full" experience at IKA! By the time I checked in, paid the tax for flying overseas, paid for my excess luggage, and went through the passport control, The gate was almost closed. The only good thing was that I used the letter I got from the cycling Federation to get 10 kg off of my excess baggage.

The airport in Dushanbe was such a small airport! The whole passport control, baggage reclaim, arrival hall, and what have you, was as small as a basketball court. 

I did not have a Tajik visa, so by the time I did the paper work and got the stamp on my passport, my pick up from the hostel had already gone. As soon as I stepped outside the airport, a crowd of taxi drivers surrounded me and wanted to take me. A 10-year-old boy kept holding my luggage as if he were protecting them! I told the drivers that I had a ride, and should wait for my ride to arrive. Then the taxi drivers got disappointed and let me alone. But one driver did not believe me and still insisted on giving me a ride. The boy still was holding on my baggage.  The persistent driver had a private car not a taxi. So told him, "I will only take an official taxi". 
" My car is a real taxi"
"Is it? Where is your 'Taxi' sign?"
The driver, then, grabbed a "Taxi" sign from another taxi and put it on top of his car and said, "you want an official taxi? Here it is". I had no choice. He had a station wagon. Other taxies would not fit my bicycle. So I agreed to go with him. The boy then asked me for money for holding on to my luggage. I asked the driver to give him some money as I did not have any Somoni, Tajik money. 

The taxi driver had to call at least 7 times to find the building in which there was the hostel. The building? It was so spooky from outside and in the hall way, but inside the hostel, which was an apartment, was fully renovated. Fausto, my riding mate, had been outside looking for me. 

Immediately after checking in the hostel, Fausto and I went to get GBAO permit. We applied at 2 pm, and we got the permit at 4! Very efficient. After that, we went to a restaurant and had Kabab. 

The hallway 

The building of the hostel

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