All posts by F and K Khan

Furniture Stores in Dubai

When we first started looking for furniture stores to furnish our apartment, the same names kept coming up on internet searches and blogs. We were not very keen on the couches/sofas and beds we saw at IKEA, Home Center, Homes r US and any other large furniture stores, so we did a lot of research and visited many of the shops (online and physically). They all have furniture at different price levels and stuff that looked really good. Nonetheless, we wanted to make all our research available to YOU! The Dubai newbie, looking to furnish their place and not sure where to start.

The list below is in not particular order and we are in no way advertising for any of these stores. This is purely a list of shops you can look at when making your furniture decisions. If we have purchased from or interacted with any of these stores we will provide a note on this.

Important things to keep in mind

  • If you are visiting a smaller store’s website, don’t get excited by a piece and think that you will get it. These websites are often not updated with latest stock so often we would like something only to find out they don’t stock it any more, or they will have to order it from another country which can take anything from 3-8 weeks.
  • Of course if you like a piece and the shop has it in stock, go and check it out! Test it. Get a feel for it. Find out the warranty and guarantee available and whether it is valid internationally. Also confirm that they have brand new piece in stock that they will send you.
  • On warranty, if you get this response, “Don’t worry, if there is something wrong we will fix it”, then there probably isn’t any and you should be very sure that you want that product.
  • Its worth checking out reviews on Google Maps. Of course you will always see both negative and positive reviews, but try a get a feel for where other customers have had keys issues. e.g. faulty products, after-sales services, missing part with no corrective actions.
  • You can pick up some great deals during sales – and there are sales very often but also beware of some websites that always seem to have a sale price. They may be comparing the price of the original designer piece to their replica and advertising it as a huge saving.

Okay so here is our list of furniture stores:

Store NameGoogle Maps LinkWebsite Notes
IKEALinkLinkLarge store with almost everything you need for your home. Prices are great.
Home CentreLinkLinkLarge store. Can find some nice stylish pieces here.
Homes R Us LinkLink Large store. Some nice pieces. Affordable.
DanubeLinkLinkLarge store. Saw some nice beds here. Affordable.
United Furniture
LinkLinkDecent variety. Affordable prices.
Al HuzaifaLinkLinkThey cater for all tastes. They have different sections for different styles of furniture. Prices range from affordable to higher ranges.
EbarzaLinkLinkPurely online store – no showroom. You can arrange a visit to the warehouse to view specific pieces. We did not have a great experience with them but others seeemed happy with the service.
Muji
Link (Dubai)
Link (Mirdif)
Link (JBR)
LinkWe bought our low table and floor chairs from them and we love it. They are Japanese a store and keep everything from furniture to household products and clothing, all designed on the principle of simplicity.
Fusion by The OneLinkLinkWe have not visited this store. On the website they seemed to have some nice pieces.
ID DesignLinkLink They have some nice pieces on the website. When we called to enquire about one of them, they said it was not in stock anymore. Google Maps reviews are not great.
Life InteriorsLink LinkThey have some very nice designs on their website but they don’t have much of a showroom – its more of an office with some pieces displayed. They get their furniture made overseas so if its not in stock there will be a lead time. Prices seem affordable.
Bo ConceptLinkLinkThey have some very nice modern designs and prices are in the mid range. We bought our bed from them. Their service was professional and after sales services was good. There was some lead time on the side tables and headboard. Side tables were delivered exactly as promised and we expect the headboard in a month.
NatuzziLinkLinkVery beautiful Italian furniture! We bough their cheapest 3-seater couch on sale but the service was still great. Hatim was our sales person and we would suggest talking to him. There was another lady there that assisted with invoicing who insisted that Farhaan did not know how to spell his own name correctly and went on spell it her way on the invoice! Prices are in the higher ranges.
Objekts of DesignLinkLinkTheir website isn’t great so its best to the go the showroom. They have nice furniture in the mid price range.
GautierLinkLinkImported French furniture. They had some very nice beds in the mid-range pricing – but that was during the sale period. If they don’t have stock of what you want there will be a lead time on delivery.
CasanovaLinkLinkWe only saw their website and enquired about a couple of their couches. Their prices were way out of our range but they have some really beautiful furniture!
Ambiance FurnitureLinkLinkWe only saw the website which says their furniture is 100% Italiand. We would therefore assume that it is in the higher price range
Indigo LivingLinkLinkWe have only seen the website. Reviews on on Google Maps are not great, specifically around product quality and after-sales service.
Marina Home InteriorsLinkLinkWe have only seen the website and there are no prices provided there. They seem to have both modern and classic pieces. They are also mentioned on other lifestyle websites as one of Dubai’s top stores.
Pan EmiratesLink LinkWe visited their Fesitval City branch which felt a little crowded with all the furniture crammed into a small shop. They did have some nice pieces at affordable prices though.
The Comfort StoreLinkLinkPart of The Mattress Store they specialize in reclining couches and chairs. We bought our Lazy Boy recliner from them. Service was good and we got a very good deal on sale.

There obviously many more furniture stores in Dubai but this list is by far the most comprehensive we have seen on the Internet.

If you would like to contribute to this list, please send us the name of the store, the website address and some comments either through the comments below or through our contact form here.

One year ago today…

#RamadanMemories

On this day last year (23 June 2015) at 2 am in the morning we drove into #AlQuds (#Jerusalem) completing the #Joburg2Jerusalem leg of our #overlandjourney.

We didn’t know much about the city layout or where exactly our accommodation was located, just that it was in the #oldcity. Looking at the old walls that envelope the old city of #AlQuds, we realised that cars cannot go in.

We parked outside and found the Damascus Gate – the gate that would become our main portal between the outside world and the walls that had witnessed millennia of communities, trade, prayer, unity, conquests, hatred, bloodshed, peace, love, tears, laughter, bonds, rivalries and footsteps of prophets, believers, soldiers, priests, rabbis, imams and kings.

To know what it feels like to walk these old stone streets you actually have to walk them.

To feel the weight that the walls would have felt when Jesus (peace be upon him) rested his tired palm against them with the cross on his back, you actually have to put your hand on the indentations into the walls along the path to his crucifixion – called Via Dolorosa.

To imagine what it must have been like when all the prophets of God prayed together led by the last of them to be sent to humankind – Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him), you actually have to pray in Al-Haram Al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary).

To feel the constriction and the suffocation that a people feel when they are not free in the land they have called their home for generations… you actually have to live there.

This old city of Al-Quds became our home for almost 2 months and before we left, the locals started calling us “Qudsi” – those who live in Al-Quds. It was hard to hold back tears as I wrote this because the mark that this blessed land leaves on ones heart can never be erased. So we hope and pray to be Qudsi’s again very soon.

23 June 2015 at 2 am we arrived in Al-Quds. Earl II is parked outside the old city near the Damascus Gate.
23 June 2015 at 2 am we arrived in Al-Quds. Earl II is parked outside the old city near the Damascus Gate.

In Search of Derawar Fort

The fairly new tar road that we were driving on came to an end at the Abbasi Mosque in the village of Derawar. We were greeted by beautiful white minarets and domes invoking memories of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. A man walked out of the mosque courtyard and Farhaan went to greet him. He asked the man about the graves of the Sahaba that we heard were in this area. He told us to follow the same road towards the exit of the town and we will see water tanks. There we would see the mazaar of the companions of Prophet Mohammed (Peace and blessings be upon him).

Sukkur was the last town of the Sindh province of Pakistan that we were staying in. Next was Punjab. Everyone that heard about our travels up North had told us “Drive though Sindh in one day and get to Punjab”. The lack of speed in our car coupled with our enviable ability of getting delayed when leaving in the mornings meant that this would be impossible. We ended up spending three nights in Sindh stopping to see Kot Diji Fort and Mohenjo-daro. We also got the opportunity to cross the Indus river a couple of times.

While at the guest house in Sukkur we started researching points of interest near the next big city of Bahawalpur. We came across Derawar Fort which was some 170 kms before Bahawalpur about 70 kms off the main highway. We thought of leaving Sukkur and spending the night somewhere immediately after entering Punjab so that we could visit Derawar Fort on our way to Bahawalpur. After speaking to Farhaans uncle we booked a guest house in Sadiqabad.

The drive from Sukkur to Sadiqabad was a mere 170 kms and we planned to be there at around 3pm so that we could get some time to write a blog post. And 3 pm it was, when we entered the town of Sadiqabad and reached the point on Google maps marked with the golden star that tells you that you saved this location.

Umm... Where is the guest house?
Umm… Where is the guest house?

Nothing. Just a few old structures and empty pieces of land. We drove around a little in the streets off the main road but only saw more empty plots and private houses. Attempts to call Jovago and the guest house were met with a very calm lady on the other side of the line telling us that the number was not available. We asked a few men sitting in front of a newly built building and they said they do not know of any guest house and gave us directions to another hotel and offered us tea and food which we kindly declined.

Just a side note here, where ever we stopped to ask for directions or chatted to people at a filling station and they heard that we were travellers they would offer us a cup of tea, cold drink or food. Such is the hospitality of the people of Pakistan.

We then went to a shop further down the road to buy airtime for our phone. The man there informed Farhaan that the said Guest House had closed down and directed us to a new “very good” hotel. We decided to check it out and after a wrong turn ended up driving next to a very smelly canal. As we took the U-turn to track back a maroon Suzuki Jimny overtook us on this single lane road with richsaws and taxi’s coming from the opposite direction. A few meters later the said 4×4 suddenly took a sharp turn blocked the road ahead of us and came to a halt. Out came a man with an official rush in his walk to Farhaans window, introduced himself as an intelligence officer, announced that the rest of the team is on their way and asked to see the car papers. By his nervous nature, we knew he was bluffing about the team.

Now, over the 15 countries that we have travelled we’ve been stopped numerous times by all kinds of scary and official looking blokes and we are kind of used to this. So Farhaan casually asked to see his ID and after perusing it showed him the papers. He made a phone call to someone and then told us that it would be best that we leave Sadiqabad and travel to the next town Rahimyar Khan, which we did.

The next day we left for the city of Bahawalpur but with the firm intention of going to Derawar Fort along the way. We only took the turn off for Derawar around 3pm. We couldnt find it on our GPS so decided to use google maps which, for Pakistan, does not give you voice navigation but will provide the route. This meant that we had to watch our position on the map and take the correct turnoffs.

The plan didn’t work out very well when the very first turn was closed off. We looked at the map and found another route to the correct road. As we travelled further the vast green fields, the mustard plantations and desert sand that appeared in between them totally distracted us and very quickly we forgot about the map we were supposed to be keeping an eye on.

Somwhere in this picture, Farhaan is buying our samoosa and pakora snacks.
Somwhere in this picture, Farhaan is buying our samoosa and pakora snacks.

“Are we on the right road?” Farhaan asked waking up from the dreamy drive that we were enjoying so much. “Oh no”, said Khairunnisa, “we left our turn behind”. So we took a U-turn and drove back through the little village lined with fruit stalls, meat shops, samoosa and pakora (chilli bites) stalls and many more. We were quite hungry so Farhaan pulled up at the samoosa and pakora stall bought some snacks and confirmed directions to the fort.

A couple of wrong turns later, feeling satiated with the very tasty snacks, we were on the straight, fairly recently tarred road to Derawar. The road again was lined with bright yellow mustard plantations on one side and green meadows on the other. These would abruptly give way to desert sand with shurbbery and small dunes and that would suddenly turn back into alternating green and yellow fields.

The road took two bends and we saw a big sign across the road announcing our arrival at the Derawar Fort. We continued to drive and the road wound through a sparsely populated village with neat mud houses and a few grocery shops. The road ended at a spectacular but not huge white mosque reminiscent of Mughal style architecture with a courtyard that has 3 entrance doors. This mosque, also called Derawar Mosque is apparently built as a replica of the Moti Mosque in Delhi, India. The main entrance faces a body of water that according to some, was once a large river whose banks use to be quite close to this entrance. It enters into the courtyard of the Abbasi Mosque with the white domes and minarets greeting the visitor.

From here we drove our car a very short distance through a large entrance gate and along a narrow path that led us to the Derawar Fort. The fort stood in front of us in its former glory but showing definite signs of ageing. Many of its forty bastions towered over as we stopped our car and took in this magnificent sight. There were parts where bricks had fallen off and the entrance gate was closed. We later learned that visiting inside is not allowed as the building is vulnerable to the elements given its age and lack of restoration efforts.

We now feel honoured and sad to have visited the endangered site that stands like a shining jewel in the Cholistan desert. If attention is not given to the restoration of the Derawar fort, future generations will not get to experience this piece of historical architecture.

A few photographs later, we went in search of the Sahabah that we had confirmed lay near by. We drove through a small patch of desert sand back on to the only tar road of Derawar and after a couple of minutes saw a white structure with green flags denoting the resting place of those close to God. We turned of the tar again and drove a few meters to towards the Mausoleum.

Graves of four Sahaba (Companions) of Prophet Mohammed Peace and Blessings be upon him.
Graves of four Sahaba (Companions) of Prophet Mohammed Peace and Blessings be upon him.

As we walked through the graves outside and came closer to the white building we were stopped dead in our tracks by the most beautiful sweet fragrance in the air. We stood there for a few moments just taking in this scent and then went inside. We spent a few minutes in silence and offered our supplications for the Sahabah that lay there and left feeling blessed and happy to have stood in their company.

The sun was starting to set as we made our way to Bahawalpur city but that did not deter us from stopping to take some photos of the mustard fields and the beautiful sunset.

Sleeping on a hammerhead in Balochistan

It has become somewhat of a travel custom during our nine months of overlanding that we end up in the lesser known and perhaps even less enthusiastically visited places. So when Farhaan’s cousin Rahil bhai suddenly asked: “Gwadar chalna he?” (Do you want to come to Gwadar?) Farhaan automatically responded in the positive. We had only heard of Gwadar from Rahil Bhai as he is often there for business. We soon realised that there was much to see and even more about Gwadar that added to a new perspective on Pakistan’s development.

The road to Gwadar
The road to Gwadar

We drove from Karachi crossing a starkly contrasted densely populated metropolis towards the Makran coastal highway about a hundred kilometres away to an isolated semi desert. The drive is a roughly 650 kilometre stretch mostly along the Arabian Sea and runs through the Sindh and Balochistan provinces passing smaller port towns of Ormara and Pasni. What makes this drive most interesting though is that it passes through Hingol National Park, which is the country’s largest. It is mainly coastal semi-desert with the most intricate and unique rock formations that keeps your head moving constantly from side to side so you don’t miss any of it.

Untouched beaches in Hingol National Park
Untouched beaches in Hingol National Park

The rock formations intermittently give way to views of kilometres of unspoilt uninhabited beaches which reminded us a bit of Kosi Bay and surrounds in South Africa. At some points in the park one gets the sense that you are lost in a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. It is maze after maze of natural formations along steep and winding roads. Fauna includes a number of mammals, amphibians and birds including the Ibex, Urial (a sub species of wild sheep) and Gazelle.

Despite our best efforts, it was impossible to view any of the animals as the dunes and rock formations present ample opportunity to be furtive. Amongst the formations, some of the most popular include the well-marked “Princess of Hope” as well as another that resembles an Egyptian Sphynx.

Not the conventional petrol station
Not the conventional petrol station

The entire road is good tarmac with military check-posts and smaller villages spread about a couple hundred kilometres apart. The journey that takes 1 day today used to take 2 days a few years ago. The name Gwadar is made up of two words – ‘Gwa’ referring to wind and ‘dar’ meaning ‘door’. Thus Gwadar is the door of the wind. We were shown a deep cut in the hills of Gwadar which gave the city its name.

Located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, this small fishing village was owned by Oman until 1958. Since then it has grown into a port city due to its unique hammer-head shaped peninsula protruding into the Arabian Sea. It has been earmarked by the Governments of Pakistan and China as the coastal start of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and is therefore destined to become both a business and tourist hub of Pakistan within the next 10 years.

The PC hotel on the Hammer-head of Gwadar. The hill is called Koh-e-Murdar
The PC hotel on the Hammer-head of Gwadar. The hill is called Koh-e-Murdar

On our weekend visit we were treated to a stay at the Pearl Continental Hotel, tours of Gwadar and traditional Baloch lunch followed by a fishing trip. Pearl Continental Hotel is built on the edge of the hill that forms the Hammer-head shape, seen in the picture below. It boasts views of the sea on one side and the city of Gwadar on the other.

One of the main projects of CPEC is the building of a road that will link Gwadar to the Karakorum Highway in Khunjerab. This will allow Chinese imports from the Persian Gulf countries to travel to China through a sea, road and rail network over only 2000 kms instead of the current ship journey of 12900 kilometres.

If like us you are the kind of overland traveller, that is looking for picturesque, out-of-the-ordinary places that are not frequented by many travellers then Gwadar is the place to visit. It is however important to note that there this region is known to be dangerous for foreign travellers so try to get a Pakistani friend or tour guide to take you.

Brown People Do Overland

As we get closer to Pakistan, we thought it would be a good time to tell you this story.

People respond with amused curiosity and mostly disbelief when we introduce ourselves as overland travellers. It seems that “brown” people are an unusual demographic in the South African overlanding community which could explain this reaction.

Farhaan however does have the land travel bug in his family blood from way back in the 60’s. His grandmother Zaynub Bibi, grandfather Goolam Rasool Mia and their three daughters Rabia Banoo, Hasina Banoo (Farhaan’s mother) and Mehmooda Banoo embarked on an epic overland journey in their Land Rover Defender from South Africa in 1964 to perform their pilgrimage (Hajj) and finally ended in India with the return journey being completed by ship in 1966.

Their journey was unique and we draw inspiration from it. We cannot speak of their experiences on their behalf as we fully understand that each persons journey has it’s own purpose. The challenges faced during that time would also have been vastly different. In short there can be no oversimplified comparisons.

Countries such as Iraq and Syria were definitely on our wish list, but given the geo political state of the region, were completely out of bounds for us. They travelled through East Africa, Middle East and Asia and recall fondly their travels through Iraq and the Sham region.

Navigation would also have been a completely different excercise on the road then – compasses and paper maps vs. Garmin GPS and iPads. Add to that the fact that in those days tarmac in Africa was as easy to come by as good South African chocolate in Kenya. A hand drawn map of Africa on the side of the Defender by a kind gentleman was the result of one such routing encounter.

On the return journey when their ship docked in Karachi, Rabia Banu (aged 13) and Hasina Banu (aged 7) were betrothed to two sons of Abdul Jabbar Khan, a family friend who hosted the travellers when they drove through Pakistan. These two unions not only resulted in a gang of rather good looking ‘real’ cousin brothers and sisters with roots in two continents but also serves to question our modern stereotypes around arranged marriages.

So there you have it, the short personal story of how brown people do overland and sometimes they even bring back extended family. Farhaan’s overlanding genes, combined with Khairunnisa’s love for change and new experiences made The Khan Playground inevitable and we look forward to many many more adventures to come.

Goolam Rasool Mia posing with their Defender and Caravan in a village in India.

 

Ummm… We’re in Georgia?!?!

Three Customs officials, came to our car, started asking us where we were from and if we were here on business. We explained that we were on a safari all the way from South Africa. One officer explained South Africa to the others as “Waka Waka”. There was a quick search of our car, a dog sniff and with smiles we were welcomed to Georgia. We are still asking ourselves how did we end up in this small country in the Caucasus when we had never even thought about going this far north.

Our plan to enter Iran was completely different to the way it is turning out. While looking at the map and deciding on countries, we spoke much about going to Turkey but agreed that it was too far out of our planned route. But as our good friend Moulana Junaid Kajee always reminds us: “Things may not be going well in your plan but in Allah’s plan everything is going swimmingly well!”

And things were not going according to plan when we couldn’t drive our car in Saudi Arabia and then had to leave Jordan immediately after receiving it there. In Palestine, after mulling over our route for the next leg of our journey we realised that to go back to Jordan would be a dead end. So we looked at options and the only other country that was not at war and through which we could to get to Iran was Turkey.

We received our car in Jordan after it was trucked from Saudi Arabia. We waited 10 days in Aqaba.
We received our car in Jordan after it was trucked from Saudi Arabia.

A few emails and phone calls later, we had a shipping company that could ship our car, a customs agent to put it on the ship and a 30 day e-visa for Turkey that took all of 5 minutes to get and was free!

On 15 August 2015 we were in Istanbul, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our car to Istanbul.

Earl II waiting for us at AutoPort
Earl II waiting for us at AutoPort

Arrive it did, but 10 days late. This gave us an opportunity to spend some time exploring Istanbul and applying for our Iran visa. On the 3rd of September with the car in our possession and Iran visas in hand we started a slow drive east-ward along the southern coast line of Turkey towards Iran.

We still had 2 problems.
1. The delay in Istanbul meant that we would run out of our visa before exiting Turkey.
2. The Auto-mobile Association of South Africa (AASA) does not validate the Carnet de Passage for Iran.

After much research and visiting the Police Station and Department of Foreign Affairs we learnt that Turkey does not do visa extensions. We had to apply for a Short-term Residence Permit – called Ikamet. We completed forms and booked the interview in the city of Izmir.

In Izmir we were told that we cannot be given a 15 day residence permit, we should rather overstay our visa and pay the penalty at the border when exiting – problem number 1 resolved!

On the Carnet issue, research showed that it was both possible and impossible to get into Iran without a Carnet. We had no other option but to try entering Iran without a Carnet, hoping that we would be given an alternative option at the border.

Due to the political issues in Turkey only one border crossing out of three with Iran remained open. We were warned by many locals along our route that given the tense political climate, this border crossing was best avoided.

Across that gate is Iran!
Across that gate is Iran!

Other overland travellers we spoke to, were adamant that the crossing was far too difficult to get through and suggested we reroute via Georgia. Given that we were in violation of our visa period, as well as the impending end to our driving permit, we proceeded with uncertainty towards the much dreaded Dogubayazit border crossing.

On the 26th of September the alternative option provided by the Iranian customs officials and fixers or “companies” as they are called, was way too expensive for us and they expected us to drive across Iran to Pakistan in 10 days max. This after we had negotiated them up from their initial offer of just 3 days. After much discussion with Iranian customs, we decided to go back to Turkey.

We had previously read about a guy in Iran (www.overlandtoiran.com) used by most overlanders for Carnet services who could provide a Carnet for the period of the visa but only with entry from Armenia. We contacted him and he confirmed this option. Since Turkey and Armenia did not have an open border crossing, we would have to go through Georgia and being South Africans, we did not need visas for Georgia – Bonus!

We reapplied for Iranian visas, flew to Ankara for Pakistani visas, returned to Trabzon and started our journey to Georgia.

On 17 October we exited Turkey for the second time to enter the border control offices of Georgia. The border post looked like an airport terminal for passengers on foot and a high-tech toll plaza styled building for vehicles. The processes were quick and efficient and we were welcomed with smiles by Customs Officials and Police. One official even showed us the score of the latest rugby match between South Africa and Wales, which South Africa had won. More smiles and stamps and we’re in Georgia!

Day 2 – Dog pee and police clearance

We woke early with the sound of the Adhaan, prayed Fajar (morning prayer)  and went back to sleep. We woke up again much later and had to rush as checkout time had approached. Being stressed about not getting late for checkout, K began taking the bags to the car and left them next to the car.

As we started packing everything into the car, to our horror we saw that one of the dogs from the lodge had peed all over our stuff!! Great start to an epic journey!! hmph! With a bit of anger and a hint of depression we rinsed our stuff before packing it back into the car.

During check out we asked the receptionist about the closest border crossing to Botswana. He advised us to use the Skilpadshek border crossing as it was less busy and not as frequented by trucks.  But before we headed to the border we had some admin to take care of.

We drove to the Zeerust police station where we needed to get some documents certified and get a police clearance for Earl II. At the station we got reprimanded for trying to park our vehicle in the parking area that said “visitors” so we promptly reversed outwards and parked across the road.

Officers at the station were firm but professsional, and the officer helping us warmed up after K struck up a conversation.  We understood his initial irritation due the large stack of papers we gave him to certify. We left there with certified documents but without the police clearance as the relevant officials were on sick leave. Officer Lekgoba advised us to proceed to Lehurutshe police station to get this. It was quite entertaining getting the pronunciation right (or wrong).

Nicely built and good service. They helped with a print out of our vehicle to serve as clearence.
Nicely built and good service. They helped with a print out of our vehicle to serve as clearence.

The Lehurutshe police station was a huge police compound with several buildings. People there were extremely helpful and one lady officer even walked to us to the correct building. At building two, the friendly ladies gave us a place to sit while they organised the relevant office to attend to us and discussed quad bike with us that was for sale from theft stock. An officer who was on leave that day was around and kindly agreed to assist us. With police clearance in hand, smiles on our faces and the dog pee in distant memory we made our way to Skilpadshek border post.

 

Road sign to the Skilpadshek Border
Road sign to the Skilpadshek Border

 

The very shnazy and efficient Skilpadshek border crossing. Thanks to the guy at the BnB we stayed at for sending us here.
The very shnazy and efficient Skilpadshek border crossing. Thanks to the guy at the BnB we stayed at for sending us here.

Border processes here were extremely efficient and we were on our way within minutes. It was hot day but not unbearable. From the border office we proceeded to the last couple of gates that marked the end of South Africa. As came to the first gate, we came across what would be our first and only encounter of officials demanding something from us (at least in Africa). The officer insisted we give him something to drink. In our panic, we parted with one of our two precious bottles of ice cold Coo-ee Lemon. A few meters down the next officer who noticed this, insisted on getting something too and we handed over a R20 note. That is SA we thought as we left our homeland for over a year.

At the Botswana border they were a little more thorough and asked K twice why we were visiting and the exact names of people we were visiting. Luckily we had been invited by the Peerbhay’s to stay with them in Gaborone so providing those details wasn’t a problem. As we got back to the car after the formalities, a kind man next to told us to go back and pay for our TIP – Temporary Import Permit – for the vehicle.

#Lesson: we learned that if we had kept the TIP from our last trip to Botswana in December we could have reused it. It is valid for 12 months.

With all the border admin finally completed we made our way to Gaborone which was just over an hour away. We relaxed for the next two days at the Peerbhay residence and completed some final outstanding items on our checklist.