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A bed by any other name

Sometimes the body is just so tired it doesn’t seem to matter where I bed down for the night. In the past three months I’ve slept on charpoys, in a tent, a prison, abandoned buildings, police posts, a few lovely guesthouses, the odd memorable hotel and a few establishments that are struggling to reach even a one star status.

I’ve shared my space with other travellers, lain in the desert under the stars alone and been ground to a paste in a sandstorm during the night. I’ve had a whole dormitory to myself and slept in a room so small it contained only the bed. When the urge to crash hits me, forget looking for a hotel…it’s hard enough to find one at the best of times.Sometimes anything that even barely resembles a bed can be inviting enough to crawl into – a roadside culvert for instance.

Mattresses have ranged from comfortable to hard as concrete. I’m not an overly fussy person and I appreciated the times when sheets were snowy white. I’ve been grateful I had bike cover to put on the bed before spreading out my sleeping bag when the linen showed evidence of those who’d been there before me. There’ve been times when asking for a towel has been met with a blank stare as if to say the exorbitant fee being asked didn’t include extras!

Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise in a chilly desert takes some beating. I’ve grown used to the early morning call to prayers in many places and fortunately I’ve managed to catch some shuteye through incessant noise of heavy traffic & passersby beneath my window, a cacophony of truck horns blasting and headlights flashing past the dhabas, and alarms going off at 2am in hotels.

I’m one of those who likes to be early to bed and early to rise. I can smile now at how the smallest ray of light used to disturb my urban sleep. And here in Tehran, it’s a town that never seems to sleep. At 3am through the narrow lanes young Kurdish refugees are pushing carts groaning under the load of empty Sanyo crates,  A rooster crows. With one eye barely open, the city roars into life beneath the snowcapped mountains, a majestic backdrop to this heaving city. I though, roll over and catch another forty winks.

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