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  • Shelley Dark

#2 packing for Iran and Oman

Go> silk and cotton jersey top, Moschino scarf, Marc Cain track pants

Dear travelling buddy,

That headline was on the website a couple of weeks ago - I'm hoping it cools off before we arrive on Friday when it's forecast to be thirty-six degrees celsius. I keep telling myself that's better than forty! It's a dry heat which has to be better than humidity.

Iran is mostly composed of quite a high central plateau: Tehran has an elevation of 3665 ft, Shiraz 5200 ft, Yazd 3990 feet, Esfahan 5200 feet and Kashan 3000 feet. Where normally you'd expect those elevations to mean cooler temperatures, in Iran these cities are all hot in summer and temperatures will be in the thirties while we are there.

Women in Iran have to wear a hijab at all times outside of home (or hotel room) so I'll have a fuller appreciation of what they put up with in summer. Which brings me to packing, more complicated for women than men. And probably of more interest to women than men, sorry boys.

I've googled dressing in Iran and wearing a hijab or head covering - what they are, what they cover, how to wear them. And we've had a leaflet in our tour papers called 'dress code'. This is my interpretation in a nutshell:

  • the hijab is supposed to cover the head and shoulders so that no hair or skin is showing

  • Iranian women risk being stopped by the morality police and told to cover up if they aren't dressed appropriately

  • In Tehran women often show quite a lot of hair, and in photos I've seen the scarf draped loosely under the chin rather than pulled tightly under it

  • some wear their scarves in a triangle tied under the chin like the Queen Elizabeth II rather than swathed around the neck

  • scarves can be large squares (some as big as a small tablecloth) folded in a triangle, or long and wide

  • the further out of the big cities you go, the more conservative the dress

  • arms must be covered, with 3/4 sleeves acceptable in the cities except for mosques, longer sleeves may be required in the country, no transparent fabric

  • tops should be long: hips and bottom should be covered with a loose top or tunic, or long dress

  • pants should be loose and legs must be covered down to the ankle - definitely not capri pants

  • some women in the city wear leggings and long tunic but it may not be acceptable in country areas

  • hats or visors go over the scarf

  • sandals are fine, nail polish is fine, makeup is fine but less is worn in the country areas

  • no shorts for men

The last thing I want to do is stand out, so I'll be dressing as conservatively as I can, although within the confines of my wardrobe - I don't usually wear long tops, and I don't want to buy clothes I won't wear at home. If I'm desperate I'm sure I'll be able to buy very light loose cotton tops if my longish long-sleeved t-shirts are too hot. I've read that scarves are best to be light and flowing without being shiny/silky which tend to slip off the head. Cotton scarves and tops will be coolest, although I'll take some silk scarves in case the temperature is moderate. At least scarves are light.

If you click on the first photo above it will bring up a slideshow and under each photo you can read details of brand and fabric etc.

The gallery shows a few outfits I've put together - I still have to cull them. The main aim has been to keep things light and cool. All the pants are lightweight - the double-skin pair are made of a satin fabric (I know, woo hoo!) that I found excellent when we were in a very hot Istanbul last year, and the Verge ones are an incredibly light fabric.

I usually only pack grey and taupe colours, but this time I've added in one blue outfit and one black (won't wear this if it's really hot) as well because I have long l/s t-shirts in both those colours. I'm not taking anything terribly smart and if I need to dress up, I'll wear the long dinner shirt over a pair of pants. I might put in a pair of white linen duds and also a light jacket just in case of a cool evening, perhaps in Oman. You can see I have too many outfits, so I'll be paring it down when I'm packing. Especially since I'll be taking my tripod which weighs a few kilograms.

Necklaces are lost when you're wearing a hijab, so I'll take a couple of bracelets instead. I don't have a pair of sturdy sandals apart from the Reikers - mine are all too flimsy - so if I find them just too hot, I may buy a pair there. But I don't like wearing bare sandals when I'm travelling because I really don't like getting my feet dusty and dirty. I'll wear the loafers at night. I'll put in 'mosque sox' as well to wear when I have to take my shoes off. And a big white cotton hat by Helen Kaminski. The band is adjustable to fit over a scarf. Nightie, undies, makeup and toiletries, a few pills and potions, and I'm done. Plus camera, phone, mac laptop and chargers. It's a lean suitcase this time!

If you'd like to read the finer details of my packing you can always go back and re-read the Style Guide to Packing Light Look Good (click here).

I've registered our travel details on the DFAT website (Dept Foreign Affairs) - it's something I've got into the habit of doing so that if anything ever goes wrong, the local embassy knows where we are supposed to be at any given time. It's quite user-friendly doesn't take long. I've made sure all of our e-tickets, hotel bookings, and apps (one with Farsi translation and pronunciation) are on my phone as well as computer.

I must tell you something you may not know if like me you are in the habit of using the complimentary travel insurance which comes with a platinum credit card. I always read the latest version of the terms and conditions booklet to make sure we're covered for everything. This time when I downloaded the latest, I noticed that it said very clearly that we are not covered for a terrorist event. When I phoned Allianz, who supplies the insurance for the bank, I was told that we would not be left in the lurch if anything happened. Hmmmm. Likely. So I've taken out proper travel insurance which clearly states we are covered for a terrorist event. These days you just never know.

I've just ordered an el cheapo battery-operated spray water fan from Ebay - if it's 36 degrees centigrade we may just appreciate it. I can leave it behind when we're coming home. Hope they don't send purple! I've packed a small hand-held fan which has been rattling around in the boot of my car for years. I imagine I'll use neither.

I'm off to check my list of chores to do before we leave. You won't hear from me again until I start posting in late September. But I'll be thinking of you as I write each night and edit my photos as I always do. And if you are on Instagram, I'll be posting photos there while I'm away so you can keep track of me. I'm @shelleydark.

Until late September buddies, take care......

shelley dark, writer 

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