After a whole night spent in the car and a ferry passage, we have finally reached Qeshm Island (which is the largest island in the Persian Gulf). It greeted us with a true summer holiday atmosphere – the sea, the beaches, the sun… Which was great, as just a few days ago, back in Palangan, we had to wear our winter coats, and when we left Cracow, right after Christmas Eve, it was snowing.
Qeshm Island is a remarkable place – rife with stunning, pure landscapes and traditional fishing villages. And – what’s most important – there are no tourists. First we visited Laft, which is but a small village, rather than a town.
Though I was quite surprised to chance upon a cow chowing down a plastic bag, it wasn’t exactly what we expected. Thus, after having a glance at the town, we moved on. The island is famous for its’ mangrove forests. It is a type of ever-green tropical forest, commonly found around the coasts of seas and oceans, which are being flooded and dried again, according to water tides. In order to survive in sea water environment, the plants developed an unusual system of roots. For us, it presented an extraordinary sight. There’s another reason, why these plants are worth seeing. Namely, in other parts of the world these forests are being cut down, in order to accomodate the ever-expanding seaside tourist resorts. Among the trees lives a myriad of animals, which we could see from our boat. It was like a paradise for ornithologists, especially since the Iranian helmsman made sure, that we see all the curious specimens – whenever we happened upon some kind of bird, he showed it to us.
However, the landscapes were more to our liking, than the avian fauna.
The island’s biggest attraction is its’ canyon. There were some tourists around, mostly Iranian mind you, to whom we were a far greater attraction, then the surrounding landscapes. The very moment, we’ve parked our car, we were approached by an Iranian family – a young mother of two charming little boys, who both looked at us with great interest, much like their father. The mother looked a bit shy, but finally her curiosity took over. She approached me, while barely acknowledging my firend.
„Where are you from?”, she asked in perfect English, „You don’t look like locals”.
We’ve been getting that question a lot in Iran, so I told her we’re but a couple of Polish tourists spending their vacation here. Surprised, the lady aksed, who is our tour guide. I pointed at my friend, quite amused. The lady was beside herself with surprise. Her husband was listening to our conversation, while the kids mustered their courage and kept eyeing us curiously. The lady went on:
„Where’s your driver?”
My friend just pointed at me. We were getting more and more amused, while the family became even more confused. Smiling, we explained, that we’ve reached Tehran by plane and managed to rent a car, to move around Iran.
„Right.”, she said, „but how did you find out about this island? It is a great attraction for the locals. We came here with our kids for the long weekend, but what are you doing here?”, she kept asking, still quite puzzled.
That was quite unexpected – that we had to explain to people lucky enough to live in such a beautiful part of the world, how much we appreciate their culture and heritage. We told them, what we’ve visited already, which places we liked the most, and what we’re planning to see. They were glad to hear it. And for once, we were the ones someone took photos of! Then we went to see the canyon.
On our way to the cave. Beaches covered with salt.
It was a wonderful day. While marvelling at the beach in the sunset, we wished we could stay here a bit longer.
But before we embarked on a journey back to the mainland, we’ve decided to eat something. We continued east, along the beaches, to reach hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. Seeing the mall, crawling with popular brand neons, we kind of felt like home. Imagine our surprise, when we entered, only to discover merchandise, that had nothing to do with said brands and was more like the stuff found at local bazaars and marketplaces. The only difference was the logo.
We’ve visited Qeshm during winter. I think it’s the best time of the year to go there. In warmer seasons, high temperatures and overwhelming moisture makes the sight-seeing a less pleasant experience.