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Published: March 15th 2017
Wednesday March 8 – Today was our earliest day, with a 6:15am pickup and then transfer to a minibus that would drive us four hours to get to the Musandam peninsula in Oman. I’d been wanting to go to Oman for a while, and this part of the country was relatively close to Dubai, and separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE. On the ride I chatted most of the way with Janis, a Scottish woman living in the Isle of Man, an island near England. We had to stop at the border to have our passports stamped out of UAE, then stop again to pay the exit tax to leave, then stop again to get stamped into Oman. Once through the border, we were treated to lovely views of the coast until we arrived. We dropped the others off at the boat they were taking for the day trip, as they were doing the drive back to UAE the same day, and then headed to the office to meet our tour guide and driver for the day. They took us on a two hour tour of the town of Khasab, the capital of the region. We spent a
lot of time in the fort, learning the history. We also stopped to see the newest mosque from the outside and saw a strip mall as well. When he asked us if we wanted to take pictures of it, my first thought was “why?”, but I said yes, so we walked a bit. Jeroen was probably right – it was a chance for the guide to take a smoke break. We did walk past a shop that looked like it has seen a fire, so that was cool I guess. Then we had a banana and a new local beverage – a fruit drink in a can with actual pieces of the fruit. We had orange and it was pretty good.
After the tour we were dropped off at the four star hotel we were staying at – I know, far too luxurious for me – and checked in. Our room was beautiful, which was such a change for me. We were within walking distance of the LuLu hypermarket, so we went over there to grab some light lunch – samosas to eat in the room to tide us over until dinner. We also went to the pool for
a swim and to sit in the sun, but it was already 4pm and a bit windy, so we stayed in the pool until the sun set behind the mountains (such a change after desert and sand for days). We had dinner at a local joint in the Lulu building which was tasty.
Thursday March 9 – Today was one of the best days. We slept a little later, had breakfast, got picked up at 9:45am and driven to the boats for our dhow day trip. Dhows are traditional wooden boats used for fishing or trading. Our tour guide was Omani and a really nice guy that was easy to talk to. There were several people on the boat already when we arrived, and they were taking up all the space in the front of the boat, so we sat in the back. Eventually there was another couple and a woman that joined us. The woman was also American, and a little vague about what she did for a living, but I found out it is something to do with NASA and she lives in northern California. She was nice to talk to though, even with the element of
This is a beautiful area and known as the Fjords of Arabia, so it was perfect for a boat ride. One of the highlights of these boat rides is the chance of seeing dolphin that sometimes swim alongside the boats, and we did not have to wait long for our chance. One dolphin joined us pretty early on, and the guys clap and whistle to get the dolphin to keep following. It was quite nice to see, and the dolphin seemed to be having fun in the process. At two other times we were also joined by dolphins, and one time it was a family of at least four. One of the stops on the tour was Telegraph Island, and we did some snorkeling around there. It was a bit windy and the water was mixed up a bit with the sand, so it was not the best snorkeling day, but it was still nice. There were some fish to see around the boat, but mostly because the guys were feeding them. Not ideal.
After the snorkel we had lunch on the boat, and there was also fruit and plenty of tea and coffee. The tea here
is sweetened and has herbs in it. I liked it. We snorkeled again in another place and the water was cold here as well, and most of us didn’t swim long because there were some jellyfish in the area. I could feel little stings and decided to get out. The ride back to Khasab was very nice and the light was starting to change, which made the mountains look even prettier. When we got back we headed to the pool again for another hour before the sun set. It was a little less windy and felt warmer than the day before. Same restaurant for dinner and a local chocolate bar for dessert at the supermarket.
Friday March 10 – After breakfast today we checked out and our tour guide/driver picked us up for our half-day mountain safari at 10am. He was Filipino and did both the driving and the guiding. He also handed me the equivalent of about $50 because we were now sharing the tour with two French guys, so we got money back since it was not private. I don’t think I knew it would be private and I didn’t know the breakdown of all costs, so
it was a nice surprise. He drove us around, showed us many of the features of the mountain area and where people lived and how, and introduced us to a goat when we had our snacks. We fed her our banana peels and apple cores and a bottle of juice. This time we tried peach juice and that was better than the orange. The goat seemed to agree. And I learned that goats drink by sucking rather than by lapping it up, like a dog or cat would. After the tour we were taken for lunch to our same restaurant from the last two nights! This time it was included so we ordered the more expensive meals, since we had already paid for them. I ate too much, which had become normal on this trip.
After lunch we were dropped off at the office and waited about half an hour for the driver who would take us back to Dubai. First we had to stop at the boat to collect people who were there for a day trip. By this point, I had a pretty large headache that had started on the mountain tour. It got worse on the
minibus ride back to Dubai, and I was also feeling like I might be sick. It was not a great combination. I managed to keep it together for the ride though. Back at the hotel I took some advil and relaxed. Neither of us had any dinner and got to sleep early. I actually woke up at 2am to check in for our flight, to try to be sure I didn’t have a seat in the middle of the plane. Jeroen had chosen his seat for extra legroom, but I didn’t want to pay for a seat. They had placed me right behind him, where I should have just stayed, but instead I moved to the other side of the plane to sit by the window on the left, which is better for me to sleep. Oh the things you decide at 2am.
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