Bandar Assouleh & Kish (Qais), Iran
There was no hotel in Siraf so we had to go to Bandar Assouleh to spend the night. This is one of Iran’s new industrial areas and is a center of oil and natural gas refining. We first of all could not find the exit off the highway and in fact we never did – we had to cut across a dirt track to enter the town which was utterly nondescript with the exception of the esplanade.
The esplanade of Bandar Assouleh - the flares behind the streetlamps are oil (and/or gas) refinery flares.
We could not find our hotel and hard as this may be to believe, the guide did not have the phone number. He only had the name. The hotel had changed its name. We drove around for two hours, nobody knew where the hotel was – everyone here comes from somewhere else as they come for work – and eventually the driver, by now furious with the guide for being so incompetent, said he would drop us off at a restaurant and he would try to find it. Because it was Friday the office was closed and the guide did not want to call anyone at home..........
The driver came back and took us to the Persian Gulf hotel – nothing to do with the name we had which was the Bandar Assouleh Inn. The guide had been telling me it was a government-run tourist inn such as we had stayed in the night before. It was not. It was filthy. It was apparently the best hotel in town and you would not have put a rabid dog in it. Nobody could use the loo, the cockroaches were the size of small birds and they were legion. I tried to pee down a drain and one leapt up, followed in rapid succession by me, so that was the end of that. I closed the door and slept with all my clothes on, on top of my silk liner. The next morning I peered cautiously into the bathroom, the repulsive creatures were still there. I went to a gas station to use the loo. I did however have one of the best meals for breakfast I had yet had in the entire country – a plate of beans from a tiny hole-in-the-wall that had workers lined up down the street. That and a cup of strong tea did the trick. And thus fortified we set off from the unforgettable Bandar Assouleh……..