Oman, oh man!

Posted on April 15th, 2010 by Nico

The 19th of March we drove into the Sultanate of Oman. A blast from our pasts, one of our most anticipated destinations, and an opportunity for a break.

It might sound strange that we were in need of a break. During our travels in the Sinai and through Jordan we started to notice that travelling as fast as we were was starting to take its toll. No longer were we as impressed by the experiences and acquaintances on the road, as we were when we started our trip. The time had arrived to sit back and relax, to recharge our batteries, and to take the time to relive the experiences of the first three months of travel.

Oman is the perfect place for this. The opportunity to share our stories presented itself immediately, as my parents Peter and Thea were eagerly expecting our arrival. They took us on the most marvelous tour of Oman, and avidly listened to our adventures every night, camping in the most beautiful Wadi’s and on serene beaches. Thanks mom and dad, for the loving care, the listening, the guidance and the patience as we slowly wound down to the Omani pace of life.

The trip to Oman took us from Jordan in three days and two nights through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Dubai in the UAE. We cannot claim to have seen the Kingdom, but we have well enough an impression to say we would like to return. Maybe in the future the rules for foreign visitors will change, and we will be able to get more than a three-day transit visa. It would be lovely to leave that long, straight road (at one point nearly 1056 kilometers without a turn, along the Iraqi border) and turn toward the heart of this Hidden Kingdom. Even if we would not be allowed to enter Mecca and Medina, there must be so much to see we could spend months exploring.

In Dubai, we spend several nights recuperating from the long and boring drive. We did some maintenance on the car, went shopping and enjoyed the luxury of a whole apartment to ourselves, with a swimming pool on the roof! Sometimes you just have to tickle yourself, as we say in Dutch. From here it was only a short hop, half a day, to enter the Sultanate of Oman at Al Ayn.

We are now south of Salalah, close to the Yemeni border. We have found paradise. Among sheer cliff-faces rising up to maybe 1000 meters, between rocky outcroppings stabbing into a blue-green sea, we are camping on a small white beach. It is hot, running up to and over 40 degrees centigrade. Our beautiful awning keeps the sun at bay (thanks again Nienke) and we have enough water to keep hydrated and even wash of the salt of a refreshing dip in the Arabian Sea. Yesterday we saw dolphins playing, not even a hundred meters away. The occasional herd of camels wanders by, just as surprised as we are.

Up until the ninth of April we had our first visitor joining the World Heritage Cruise: Stephanie Verwijmeren. Having had the luxury of being shown Oman by my parents, we could now pass on our knowledge. Stephanie stayed 10 days, in her words way to short to experience this incredible country. We did our best though, as you can see by her pictures on Facebook! Stephanie, it was an amazing pleasure to have you here with us, and we sorely miss you!

The 4th of May we will continue our cruise. By ferry we will head to Bandar Abbas, to delve into the mysteries and waylay the misconceptions people have of Iran. Having done our research we are intrigued by the contradictions present in Iran’s society and are confident it is safe to go.

As most of you have probably heard we have changed our plans regarding the follow-up route to India after Iran. We will not take the long route North of Afghanistan through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Nepal. Our experience now is that the distance would be too great, the timing to short and the hassles of border crossings to much. Instead, we have opted to stay longer in Oman and Iran, and arrive in India sooner through a quick transit of Pakistan. We will do this with a recognized tour operator, a knowledgeable local guide and where necessary under police escort. We will only stay in safe, recommended hotels and avoid any potential hotspots. We will not venture of the main roads and we will not put ourselves in danger in any way. We will also not head north to the FATA and the NWFP, for the obvious reasons.

As we head into India a new adventure awaits us. The Indian sub-continent is a world on its own, waiting for our exploration. We will travel with our friends Mark and Svenja into the mountains, over some of the world’s highest motorable passes to visit temples, gompas and national parks.

For now though, the sea calls us for a dip. It surely cannot get any hotter than this...?

Love and hugs, Nico and Melody

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