Monday, April 13, 2009

Hotel Farabi

The tallest, most expensive, grandest and most luxurious hotels in the world can be found in Dubai. It has actually become such a common sight that writing about it will provide no more surprise and excitement. So, I am writing something about a hotel in the little island of Kish in Iran, a hotel that doesn’t even comes close to that of Dubai’s in terms of scale but certainly it’s something closer to all Filipinos, something that they know, by heart.

Hotel Farabi. It’s not just your ordinary hotel. For most Filipinos, it’s a hotel of dreams, where hope floats, fate hangs, friends are met and memories are made.

Hotel Farabi is located in Kish Island in Iran. Prior to 2008, it’s the favored hotel destination of Filipinos whose tourist visas in Dubai expired and they needed to make an exit. Back then, processing of return visa took only a day and normally, Filipinos stayed in the hotel for up to three days before going back to Dubai. The hotel hosted for the Filipinos, what indirectly seemed to be a vacation, an opportunity to meet new friends and a chance to break away from the comforts and discomforts of Dubai life. Today, the hotel still exists, though with less men and might. The new immigration laws in Dubai and the current economic crisis has greatly affected the hotel’s profitability. What is left of the Filipino transient tourists who used to populate the hotel are those who still hope to get back to Dubai in search of work despite the longer waiting period. The hotel that once stood for fun and pleasure is now taking a bow to mirror a new face for its guests, dreams and aspirations.

Front Desk. Hotel Farabi is located in the city center of Kish Island, approximately 600 meters from the beachfront and the Kish boardwalk. The hotel compound is divided into two: the cluster buildings and the villas. There are 135 rooms in the cluster buildings and 20 villas. Each room has 4 to 10 bed spaces depending on the room size. Hotel Farabi is more of a transient hotel and when you check in, inevitably, you have to share the room with people that you don’t even know and sometimes with people that don’t even want you to be there. Room rate, well I mean bed rate is 35 AED per day and it comes with a free daily complimentary breakfast. A refundable deposit of 100 AED must be made upon checking in and hotel payments are due every 10 days.

Amenities. Aside from 4 channel TV in each room, a telephone station, an internet cafĂ©, a restaurant and shishahan, the hotel has nothing else to offer. And didn’t I just say that all these services don’t come free? A bakeshop and a billiard hall have already closed down its operations. If you expect hot and cold water or at least 1 24 hour water supply, well, dream on! If you wish to be spared of bed bugs that usually plagued Dubai’s boarding houses, well, you better keep on wishing! And if you hope to give yourself some good movies to watch over their in-house movie channel, well, I suggest you bring your own laptop and a handful of DVD to avoid the great frustrations!

The Daily Bread. The daily complimentary breakfast is consisted of the tsinelas bread, a tea, a strawberry/carrot jam and sometimes with a boiled egg. The tsinelas bread is a foot long and as stingy as a rubber. When frozen (pag trip mo lang naman), it becomes hard as a wood and ca be used as a pamalo, chopping board and as a pamukpok ng labada. Its unique feature always amuses its first time customers, asking the perennial questions why is it so hard and ductile. The explanation could be simple, so you won't have a second try.

The Restaurant. One good thing about Hotel Farabi is, when you are planning to shred some extra pounds off yourself, eating at their restaurant can proved to be such an effective way. The food there is awful that you’re going to lose your appetite and force you to find some better alternatives. If chips and cookies won’t suffice, surely there is a way for Filipino resourcefulness and practicality to work.

Filipinos passion for cooking has found its kitchen in the sea shore. In addition to cost savings and group bonding, our Kabayans can still manage to prepare our favorite putahe just the way we know how despite lack of proper utensils and limited ingredients. Compared to the unknown dishes in the hotel’s restaurant, what our kabayans cook is way better in all respects.

Things to Do. What the hotel is lacking in its amenities, it doesn’t compensate in any other services as well. The hotel is just as good as a bed to lay your lazy body to rest. To spend your time with a little worth aside from sleeping, you can do check a whole lot of other activities within the hotel’s vicinity, all for your eyes to see and feet to walk.

Tales of Discomforts. Hotel Farabi is a bad hotel, if only we had a better choice. People working in the hotel are rude and ill mannered, from the manager down to the hotel staff. They treat Filipinos not as visitors but as refugees, that we owe them so much for staying in their hotel though we pay for every single minute of it. They manifest their rudeness by their:

1. Irritating way of informing you that you are due to pay your hotel expenses: an early morning call, then a hotel staff visiting your room if you don’t come to the reception on time, finally their last resort, security guards ready to bring you out of your room and telling you that you’ll be deported if you don’t settle your bills. They are inconsiderate and cold blooded.

2. Housekeeping services in the morning. They will just break in to your room without a knock. They’ll muff the floor, collect the garbage and arrange the things, without any regard if you are dead salivating in your slumber.

3. They disallow cooking even outside of the hotel premises because their restaurant is getting empty and unprofitable. They raid rooms and confiscate cooking utensils, materials and ingredients at sight. Then you’ll also be the first to know that the confiscated items would be sold by the hotel staff to your neighbor room, which will be the subject of another raid the next day and the cycle just goes on and on.

Salvation. But amidst all the discomforts the hotel provides it guests, none could ever be more resilient and understanding than we Filipinos could be. For the sake of family and dreams, we are ready to face all the hardships and endure the sacrifices of living far away from home. One good thing about Hotel Farabi and living in Kish in general is, people who share common longing for company find each other to share their stories and enjoy some happy and sweet moments, too.

Many relationships have blossomed out of Hotel Farabi. Some have ended in the altars, some were just flirt affairs lasting during the duration of the stay, and others were just plain friendship and camaraderie. Whatever way it may end up, it only care to show that we Filipinos strongly value relationship and that we can still embody positive attitude in depressing times.

For all of Hotel Farabi’s unworthiness, it is the joy of newfound friendship and time etched memories that ultimately save the day. The thousand miles that separate its likely visitors from their families and loved ones is understated by their dreams and aspirations for a better future despite all the hardships. Hotel Farabi may have sheltered that dreams for the Filipinos, but it is their faith that keep it soaring.


  1. Hahaha, nakakamiss din sa Kish. This is a classic blogpost for most of us who had the 'fortunate'chance to experience everything that revolved around Hotel Farabi :-)

    1. 35 pa rin ba ang per day sa Hotel Farabi? how about kish visa? how much?after 14 days of staying in kish need daw kumuha ang visa.

    2. yes of course you need to change your visa as a iran visa i dont knowand i dont having any idea for how much the price for that

  2. hello, may I ask how much is the kish visa after 14 days of staying in Kish? Is it still 35aed per day in Farabi hotel? Thanks much!

  3. Hi, magkanu po ba ang kish visa? sabi po kasi nila after 14 days of staying sa kish, need mgbayad at kumuha ng visa doon. at 35aed pa rin bo ang per day sa Farabi? Salamat po.

  4. nasa 40aed na per night dun aside from the free first night... yung visa is i think nasa 200, not sure though :)


  6. hahahahaha.... prang masaya duan ah....

  7. Hotel Farabi is more of a transient hotel and when you check in, inevitably, you have to share the room with people that you don’t even know and sometimes with people that don’t even want you to be there.

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  8. What?! Bed bugs? Yun yata ang di ko kaya...unless magdala ako sarili bed sheet. Ilang days n lang kailangan ko na exit.

  9. warzone ba haha! see you soon farbi hotel