Monday, January 29, 2007

Raya haji di Nizwa

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSehari sebelum raya haji aku masih lagi kat Nizwa. Sebenarnya this is the best time to visit Nizwa kalau nak rasa feel bagaimana masyarakat tempatannya prepare untuk raya haji di sini.

Bandar Nizwa jam pack dari pagi lagi. Kebanyakannya menujuju kearah Nizwa souq. Kat situ pun ada jual souq kambinng dan lembu. Jadi ramai kesitu mungkin dengan tujuannak beli barangan dapur. Tapi tujuan paling utama ialah untuk membida kambing atau lembu bagi tujuan korban.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingUnlike kat Malaysia, kita tempah lembu dari tuannya. Di sini semuanya mereka cari kat souq aje. Berlori-lori kambing dan lembu ada kat souq tu. Pilih aje yang mana nak.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPastu ada antara tuan kambing/ lembu tu lelong ternakan mereka. Kecoh betul tawar menawar kat pasar tu. Biasalah orang arab kalau cakap macam nak gaduh.

Tradisi ini mereka dah buat bertahun-tahun lamanya dan masih lagi diteruskan.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMalam sebelum raya itu pulak, aku ada kat Buraimy. Round-round town tu dan nampaklah kat souq ni orang jual kayu api banyak-banyak. Bila ditanya, ini guna untuk masak daging esok nanti. Aku dok wonder mesti susah jugak nak collect kayu api ni. Bukannya ada hutan pun kat sini.

Sambil tu aku singgah beli satu special dessert kat Oman iatu Halwa. Tak sangka pulak aku mahal. Plastik tupperware kecik tu harga 50 ringgit. Rasa? Hmmm acquired tastelah. Aku tak suka sangat. Rasa macam dodol berempah. Orang kata kat Malaysia pun ada halwa ni nama dia halwa maskat. I suppose halwa muscat lah tu.

Orang arab ni suka sembahyang raya open air. Walaupun banyak masjid keliling. Petang raya ni as we drive from Nizwa to Buraimy nampak ramai orang tengah pasang speaker segala kat open space yang mostly designated for this purpose.

Pastukan esok hari as we drive lagi from Buraimi to Sohar pulak. (dah nak balik jalan tak tentu arah), nampak banyak bangkai kambing kat tepi jalan. Tak tutup pulak tu some of them. Dahlah memang banyak lalat, makin bertambah-tambah lalat hari tu.

Pastu lori municipal datang kutip carcass tu satu-satu, masukkan dalam lori dia. Hmm lain sikit cara mereka.

Actually tak ada point aku cita ni. Cuma cita apa yang aku observe ajala.

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Jalanraya sesak sehari sebelum raya haji

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Puke already?

OK back to Oman, if you have not puke already.

Still in Nizwa. Very near to Nizwa is the beautiful and traditional Al Hamra. If I were to have the luxury of time and money (more of money actually), I would stay for a week. The surrounding area of Nizwa, which is called the Dakhiliya region is simply amazing. Did I say beautiful? Did I mention beautiful? Beautiful?

You see I am running out of good words to describe them. They are just beyond.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIn AlHamra is the traditional village Misfah AlAbreyeen. The village seems like it is hewn out of the rock. Clinging to the cliffs. At the steep mountain are houses, plantations, pools and water channel. Entering the village is like a maze of pathways where I suddenly find myself in front of someone's house.

I certainly am amaze at the ingenuity of their engineering excellence. There at the steep of the dry mountain, in the old days they created falaj (water channel) and terraced plantation for them to sustain themselves. I was at the edge of the mountain, and was simply at awe. Mouth open all the time. Sweet water channels flow through the steep slopes before reaching the village.

People still live there even though I suspect less than before. I wonder if they felt us being intrusive. Perhaps.

Hmm I would.

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A woman carrying dried long grass or something,
You cannot really see the steepness of the hillside in the photo.

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Some more pictures HERE.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Grant me patience

I am trying to plan a treasure hunt. Both for adult and children.

But I want you to read this familiar story. About two guys who are friends. Samuel and Joseph. They had the biggest argument and decided to see a judge.

Samuel claimed that Joseph has taken his gold. Joseph denied.

Samuel told the judge that he gave the gold to Joseph under an oak tree. The oak tree witness everything.

Judge told Samuel to bring the oak tree to the court.

Samuel went off leaving Joseph with the judge.

Time passes.

Judge ask Joseph, "Do you think he has reached the oak tree by now?"

Joseph said "No! Not yet. Just a bit more."

After even more time.

Judge ask again, "Do you think he has reached the oak tree by now?"

Joseph said, "Yes! He should be there by now."

Soon Samuel came to the court with a sad face, "Judge! The oak tree refuse to move, nor would he speak. Whatever will happen to me?"

Judge smiled and said, "It's ok. The oak tree has come to me.."

OK OK. We all know that the judge tricked Joseph to finally confess. Or did you get it? Sorrylah I am a bad story teller

The question was, explain how did the judge trick Joseph?

And then explain that to an 8 year old boy. At least my 8 year old boy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dune Bashing at Inland Sea Qtar (Kh0r Al Ude1d)

This trip was organised by us, the ASS, for any Malaysians who want to enjoy their time in Qtar. And about 28 cars registered, that made up about 130 participants, men, women and children, even babies and senior citizens.

Indescribable! Ahh surely you are bored with me saying that. I have run out of vocabolary to describe fun or exhilarating. The two hour journey on the dunes just beat any roller coaster ride because it is dynamic. The best thing to happen is when a car got stuck. Of course you can only be ok with it if you have proper equipment.

We camped there. It was freezing. It rained during the day too, so the sky was dull. I didn't take much photo of the sea because of the dullness. Definite next time!

Thank god all the kids were ok and were enjoying themselves. Haziq insisted we stick on the bumpy ride. heh! heh! When we do, all of them would scream like mad dwarves. They all inherited madness from their mum.

We had a little treasure hunt game after dinner. This one was not organised by the ASS, rather by the brilliant Dr. Azhar (who was once the VP for MERCY Malaysia).

I lead the smallest group of boys. My son (8 year old), Irfan (an equally young boy), Ashraf (5 year old) and JackJack (2 year old). There were all hopeless at cracking the codes but wanted to win so much. I wanted them to have fun. To keep their spirit up and just because I am a mental goddess, I ran frantically around the campsite shouting


Man I so need the break. These running and yelling without any care or shame is the break very much needed.

I was told later that people thought i was winning and was psyched. Ha! Ha! Ha!

We got no 4.

I couldn't sleep much because I was so worried after seeing a small desert mouse IN the tent. Eeeewwww! Next time we'll bring our own tent.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOh we found some desert flowers. It has one slimy root. It usually blooms out in the winter. Masya Allah!

I was also the official photographer. Ha! Ha! Ha! Now that is certainly joke! Regardless, I am making a mental note to play with the aperture for better depth of field and to try increasing the speed when taking dynamic movement. It was difficult running about taking phoos of people especially during games. Lantaklah ko!

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Mr Drive fast took the photo of our car. That's me sticking out of the window, taking photos!

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At the edge of the dune

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A cayenne was pulled out after it got stuck, The front row is the fellow of the commitee

If you have nothing better to do, you can check out the photos HERE.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Intermission : KH0R AL UDE1D : 1NLAND SEA

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis is not Oman anymore. This is now Qtar. A short intermission.

Kh0r Al Ude1d, or the 1nland Sea, in the extreme south-east of the country, is a place of spectacular beauty known to many as the Desert Wonder of Qtar. This is a large area of natural sand dunes, surrounding a calm inlet of the Gulf. The sea pierces through the land to dig a long channel of water into the desert island.

For this reason the site is called "Khor Al Udeid" or The Inland Sea. Khor when translated from Arabic to English means Inlet.

The sea first surges through the land to divide Saudi Arabia from Qtar and then curves to create a shallow lake. Also truly amazing are the pink cliffs that rise on the Saudi side of the inlet and the pure white dunes that line the Qtari side.
The dunes are quite stunning - tall, shapely sand masses formed by the prevailing winds and subject to radical overnight changes of shape. By day, it is like a lakeside beach resort, the sea traveling across tidal flats to form an “Inland Sea”. By night, an awesome landscape of towering sand dunes takes on fabulous proportion, the moon and stars adding a sense of timelessness and pristine quiet. At sunrise and sunset one is gifted with a breathtaking display of colour, glowing shades of pink, purple, gold and magenta. The virgin beaches and majestic dunes are of a charm and irresistible enchantment.

Half the fun of going to the Inland Sea is getting there - there are no roads leading there, and the entire trip is made with 4x4s through the desert and through the sand dunes. The Inland Sea is only accessible through a kind of Desert Safari-style trip. This daylong trek in a four-wheel drive vehicle runs to southern Qatar, journeying 75 kilometers across the desert, 45 of those being off the beaten track.

This trip is designed to acquaint visitors with the lure and expansiveness of the desert, and the professional drivers take you on a roller coaster ride of your life as you propel up sand-dunes rising up some 50 metres, and carry on down the other side.

Once there, you can test the waters for a refreshing swim, or scramble up the sand dunes on foot. In the quietness of the desert, far from the trappings and hubbub of city life, the quiet strikes you, with no sound but the breezes and the shifting of the sands. Or try sand skiing, an easy thing for those experienced on snow, and a soft landing for those who try skiing for the first time!

Like they say when you are in Rome, you do what the Romans do. Thus when you are in Qtar, you sanddune! Have a try at the Inland sea, the desert wonder of Qtar!

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And that ladies and gentlemen, is where I am going tommorow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Forts, fortresses, castles and ruins

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI do not know the differences between fort and fortress though. Perhaps the latter is more of a passive fort? More for a retreat? Oh I don't know.

Oman was a major point of sea trading. Its strategic location made it so accessible for trade routes in the perisan gulf and arabian sea. Oman itself has many goods to offer like frankincense, aromatic gum (ala ala kemenyan tapi better smell), copper and spice. In the old days, frankincense was even more valuable than gold.

Oman also has a long open coastline. It is not surprising that at every major town along the coastline house forts and watchtowers. As you drive along the range of mountain, you will be able to obseve watchtower probably in line so they can communicate with each other. (You watch LOTR, you will understand.)

I only managed to visit just a few forts, one castle and a few ruins. But I was already very impress with the very few.

On the way from Sur to Nizwa, taking the coastal way, you will come to an old town, Qalhat. It used to be a great port and a great city. There were remnants of ancient city walls that you can see. Ibnu Battuta described the beautiful mosque in his travel journal.

The Portuguese came (It is the Alfonso guy) and burned it all up. In 1507, the Portuguese arrived in Oman and ransacked Quriyat and Muscat and in the following year they destroyed Qalhat, killing many of the local population and burning all the ships and buildings there. . What is left now is a tomb of Bibi Maryam, a pious wife to the ruler which you are left only to imagine the grandness of the place.

Nizwa fort, the biggest fort in the Arabian peninsula with its imposing 50m diameter tower is fabulous. A great proof of Oman's engineering ingenuity. There are many secret rooms, tunnel leading 25km out to somewhere and false doors. The fort itself is built on a river, such that under seized, water is always accesible.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTo go up the the fort one has to access a narrow steep set of stairs which has many doors in between. The traditional doors are inches deep with metal spikes and over the lintel of each is a hole through which boiling oil could be poured over the marauding enemies. Those who did manage to run the gauntlet of hurdles risked being scalded by boiling oil or water that was poured through shafts , which opened directly above each set of doors. Date syrup, a liquid that oozed from bags of dates stored in special date cellars, also came in handy as an alternative to oil and water. Eeewwww deep fried human.

Jibrin castle, an hour drive from Nizwa, is like a maze inside. You can get pleasantly lost in there. One door leads to another and suddenly you find you are where you came from. I was slightly worried being in the Jibrin castle for it has so many openings big enough for the kids to look out and fall of the castle. But the architectural was superb. It was a retreat for the imams and also a place to study Islamic knowledge and science.

At the rooftop, you can peek at who is knocking at the front door and surprise them like as if you have kashaf.

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Looking down, and if you look up you can see that you are being watched

Alkhandaq fort in AlBuraimy reminds me like what a fort should look like. Rectangular shaped, watchtowers at each corner and a moat around it.

Many of these excellent monuments were left to rot for many centuries. It was the current Sultan (Sultan Qoboos) who took alot of initiative to restore them. One major fort, which is Bahla fort, has been undergoing restoration for a long time. Bahla fort, half hour drive from Nizwa, was so impressive that it made it into the UNESCO heritage list. And it is indeed a handsome fort. You can still see the old houses made in baked clay and hay and some other material i don't know what, surrounded by a 12km city wall.

Oman has put a mark in the world for a long time. It is now slowly making its mark in the tourism world.

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Bibi Maryam mausoleuom in Qalhat, A view from the rooftop of Nizwa fort

Pictures of SOHAR FORT


Pictures of NIZWA FORT




Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wadi Bashing

Oman is blessed with wadis and beautiful ones that is. Visiting Oman wouldn't be perfect without visiting any wadis. You can wadi bash here but we didn't do that one because we are not familiar with the terrain. If we go again I think I'll get a guide to take us there. You should too!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe visited one wadi though where we were sure that it was good road leading to it. It was near Sur, the route going to Nizwa. But what we didn't know was to get to the wadi itself we had to climb steep terrains. It is not likecliffhanger thing, but if you have three boisterous kids and you are wearing a flimsy sandal, then the terrain is worrying.

There were the local kids who were excited to help (in exchange of money). We didn't want because we thought the short walk to the wadi is well paved. Man were we wrong. I finally had to succumb to them because I couldn't even balance myself (damn sandals!), let alone jackjack and the kids. And the local boy just scopped jackjack and place jack on his shoulder and guide Haziq and jack through the steep terrain. Ayoooooo I was out of words. Wrong step and there goes jack with the rest of the kids come tumbling after. Gulp!

But as usual, it was worth the trip. The wadi is spectacular. I learned about wadis n school but I never know that it was that amazing. Amongst the dry rocks, here we have streams of freshwater from the ground and some from the mountain top. As we drove through the winding road going there, you see nothing but dry mountains but here it is the secret of the Arab world. Water.

And water as we all know creates civilisation. There are small villages and plantations of the typical plants like dates, mangoes, bananas and so forth. Work goes on here as we splash a bit in the wadi.

And this is just one of the hundreds of wadis in Oman.

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The green green water of Wadi Bani Khalid and look at the guy scooping jack up on his shouldres going down the terrain

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Wadi Tiwi, along the coastal route Sur to Nizwa

To view the excellent wadi bani khalid click HERE.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's the journey, not the destination

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That was my escape clause to lover each time we didn't see a signboard and got ourself on an intersection or when I take him on a graded road and pretend that that is the only route available. I told him at the end of the journey that there is a hghway from Muscat to Sur. But hey wasn't the coastal road sceneic despite some are graded? And part of the road was actually river bed? Wasn't it exciting when we went down to collect some river rocks nak buat tuam badan nanti?

The funthing about traveeling in a car through four countries is it allow you to view the changing landscape from one place to another. As we drove out from Qatar we saw rocky barren flat desert*yawn*.

As we enterd the 45 minutes journey from Saudi to Dubai, there was more of the uneventful desert *sleeps*. However following the coastal road in the UAE towards Dubai, the desert sand are finer and have slight rose tint. Om your left is the barren beach and on your right is spans and spans of transmission lines (400kV.

We passed Abu Dhabi at night and there it was, the capital city of UAE, brightly litted as far as your eyes can see. Seamless to it is finally Dubai with tall skycrapers and bright neon. Shopping complexes along sheikh zayed road bisa menggoncang iman mereka yang berduit.

Ras AlKhaimah is where the majestic mountain begin in your journey. Strips of Hajar mountain runs from the south of Oman all the way up to Musandam. And we were like "jakuns" (at awe) looking at the mountains and I started clicking away only to be surprised with even grander view in Musandam. The first photo is a view in Ras AlKhaimah. Short shady accacia trees everywhere adding decoration to the rocky mountain. Certain plot of fertile land has patches of green grass adding a carpet look. Second top picture

Driving downwards to Fujairah and back to Oman, you can see rows of stalls selling fruits, carpets, potteries and nurseries. It is like a combination of Sg. Buloh and Air Hitam (Kluang).

In Sohar and and along the way the scenery was alomst like Malaysia. the wadis plant banana trees, mangoes, papayas in between the dates. top third picture

Stationary rock does gather moss. Some more fertile areas are blanketed with moss Second row first picture We saw lots of this on the way to Nizwa near the wadis.

I particurlaly like the traditional way of goat rearing. With shepards taking their flocks to greener grass. Second row, second picture

The route from Muscat to Sur was partly on graded road. Yeah if a car is infront of you, it is quite dusty. Second row third picture. But the view of the dramatic coast was worth it. Next picture.

There were lots of donkeys around here in the south of Oman. last row, middle picture

And desert is amazingly beautiful. The last picture was rose-tinted very fine sand desert somewhere in AlAin.

Not to mention the people we met, who took their time to talk to us. These are among the little experience we get throughout the journey.

I saw watchtowers on the mountains. Perhaps I can understand better looking at aerial's view. I imagine they blow horns or light fire when they see troops of armies or horses galloping across the mountain.

You can see and understand that life can be harsh living in desert, among the mountains, sherperding the goats, hot desert in summer, freezing desert in winter nights, the journey that ancient traders took to take goodies out.

All these make one humble. All these make you understand how people live their life in other part of the world and what make who they are. And what makes who you are. And how in the end, we are all the same.

p/s : sorry nonah terpanjang pulak

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Traditional City

Muscat, is a great traditional city.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt has all the modern infrastructure, three tier flyways and all and traffic jam! Finally traffic in Oman. Oman is a city in the Gulf that still hold on tight to its' traditional values. At least that is what seem to me. Could it be since I am only visiting tourists area?

There are more youths donning shirt and jeans rather than their traditional dishdasher. Many were semi brave to talk to me. Scratch chin. Why am I so harp on this? Because in the typical Gulf scenario, the males rarely talk to the females unless deem necessary. Sometimes a man does speak to me here in Qatar, but he would get heavy teasing from his counterparts. Or generally the talk to me when business is concern.

anyway, the Oman Government is strict about the look of their city. For a start there should not be any skyscrapers. No pitched roof houses. All buildings must maintain the typical middle east flat roof. The new government buildings must be built with a a fort facade and painted in the sand colour. The result? Is a fabulous looking city.

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In Muscat, we finally became the typical tourists. Purchasing souveniers at the Muttrah souq. he he! Among the must-get souveniers in Oman is the khanjar, the traditional dagger. We bought ours made in pure silver and framed. (Tak gantung lagi. malas) And to match with it a silver short sword also in frame also tak gantung lagi. You can get the silver jewellery usually donned by the bedouins. (we didn't get). There are also camel wolled woven into wall hanging.( we didn't get). We bought kumma, the Omani traditional skull cap (ketayap). The handmade embroided ones can come up to hundreds. (We bought the cheap one)

Muscat is made even more perfect for the city port looks handsome with the barren mountain in the background.

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Some photos here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A knot in the stomach

Alhamdullilah we didn't have much problem throughout our more than 4000km drive in two weeks. Even going through the immigration and custom having to drive through Saudi, UAE, Oman, UAE again and then the bigger Oman and having to repeat nearly the same thing on the journey back didn't pose any problem except for slowness.

However there were a few occassions that left us with a knot in the stomach.

Like for instance when we driving on the highway cutting across the vast desert and the crosswind was really strong. When we overtake a lorry, some form of air pocket forming forcing us to sway about. Worrying.

Going through some unfenced and unlit road, we were made surprise by some huge black thing by the roadside. It was a group of camel huddling up around some bushes. They are huge. I tell you! Huge! Their body is like at the height of my window. I have read many fatal accidents due to collision with these quiet beast.

But my experience getting out of Musandam must be the tightest knot in the stomach ever!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSo I was the sole navigator throughout the trip. Thus I had the perrogative to choose whichever route I fancy. So to get back the other side of Oman I decided to follow the route from Khasab to Diba and drive through Fujairah and get back to Oman and finally stop at Sohar, Oman.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI knew it was graded road but I was ready to take the chance seeing that the route is shorter plus the drive from Tibat to Ras AlKhaimah would be like a revisit since that's where we came in from. Boring!

But what I didn't know was not only it was a graded road but it was mountanious as well. If I could redefine breathtaking, I will. The view from the mountain was breathtaking. Grandeur. But our breath was stopped short driving through the road. It was graded road full of rocks some are big and sharp. Lover was worried that the tyre would pop. Some of the roads were narrow, we were worried we would topple over. Eeiiiiiii. Some are so steep, we didn't know what to expect on the other side. Sometimes another steep downhill with a sharp U-turn right at the edge of the mountain. Looking at the big boulder on top of us, we were lucky enough that none fall on top of us.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBut occasionally we were surprised going round the rocky mountain. You cannot believe that amongst the dry rocky, there are patches of cultivation plot. Cleverly designed to trap water especially during summer.We found some mountain goats climbing effortlessly on the steep rocks. And as we drove through the ridges, we found ourselves driving past a big plot of land (called a bowl). Dates, alfafas are grow in abundance. How they live here, I cannot imagine. (there is electricity not to worry).

We were so relieved when we finally came to the last bowl called the Raudah bowl. We stopped to let the kids hang out and take a leak. Batrisyia was complaining about the mountain drive endlessly that she kept repeating it until today. It was kinda scary.

We finally came to the checkpoint only to be further surprised. There were soldiers instead of immigration officers. Instead of letting us through like usual, they told us to go back and go out of Musandam via Tibat. But we took two hours to get through the mountain good sir. Nope, they persisted, only Omanis and Emirates can pass through here.

You cannot imagine our frustration. Just thinking of driving thorugh the ordeal made me shiver. Suddenly dark clouds came over us. Literally! It was going to rain. So we had to double up the speed before the rain pours. I just cannot bear the thought of driving in the rain on a graded road so steep you can slip back and drop off the cliff. Ahhh!

Anyway we made it safely and the return journey took us one hour. Perhaps it was the fear of rain or the confidence. But it was not so bad the second round.

At that time obviously myself and lover did not talk as obviously he was angry. But now looking back, it was a good experience indeed.

Today we can laugh and marvel at the photos. The photos can be found HERE

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The roads carved out of the edge of the rocky mountain

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Assalammualaikum, Kaifa Haluk

Peace be upon you, How are you?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt is easy to fall in love with Oman not only for the beauty of the country but also for the friendliness of their people. They may not be very well verse in English but the universal sign of smile and nod and wave is at abundance. They are humble peope and are always ready to help whenever they can. That made us feel safe and very much welcomed.

I was surprised when so many people waved and smiled at us when we reached Musandam. Even more men waved at me when I am sitting alone. Hmm...scratch chin.

I find it quite strange when a family of a bearded man wearing his normal dishdasher (typical Arab white robe but Oman's one is much simpler) and the woman in full black abaya, face fully covered and lttle children waved at us frantically with big smiles as they drove past us in the village Qalhat (near the town of Sur). That you can never find in Qatar.

Their friendliness comes in handy especially Oman is not well eqipped with signboards. We kept having to ask people whereabout a certain place is.

In Musandam, we were trying to find a prehistoric rock painting in one of the villages in Musandam. We were already in the area but somehow we couldn't find the place. No signboard remember?

In case you are using this entry as your reference, I shall try to explain how to get there.

The ancient painting can be found in the village of Qida which is along the way from Tibat (Musandam's border post) - Khasab. As you enter the village you wil find dates plantation along the way. Drive to the end of the tarmac road and you will find a madrasah (school) on your right. Do not be surprise with the graded road. Drive along for a few hundred metres you will find an unused hand-pump well on your right and a big boulder with a small door on your left. The boulder is actually a little barn for the goats. Then you are at the right place. You won't be able to see the carvings immediately. Get off the car and do a little bit of exploration in the scattering of rocks around the boulder and be amazed

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The big boulder which is the house for the goats, that's the man who helped us.

Anyway there we went asking people. With my limited basic Arabic and sometimes their limited english, we both tried our level best to convey our message.

Always start your conversation with

Asslammualaikum, Kaifa Haluk

For they will also do the same when they talk to you. And when they ask me Kaifa Haluk?. I will always reply Tamam, Alhamdullilah (Excellent, Praise to Allah)

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The picture says "Me the HUNTER was here"

More pictures of the prehistoric rock painting HERE

Monday, January 01, 2007

Arabian Fjords

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI put here a map of Oman with the route that we took. May it assist you in understanding the places that we went as I shall mention it sporadically here.

On the second day of our journey, we reached Musandam, the ARABIAN FJORDS. Approaching musandam via Tibat (driving from Dubai), you can see the changing landscape and the building up of the rocky mountain especially from Ras Al Khaimah (a state in UAE). The winding road that you had to take to Khasab displays the spectacular view circumfering the western coast of Musandam.

The combination of the rugged mountain on the land and rocky island in the strait of Hormuz (seperating Oman and Iran and in the Arabian Gulf) makes up a wondderful mazes of fjord.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe best way to enjoy Musandam is obviously on a dhow (traditional boat) ride, which we took. (QR150 for half day package for adult or QR200 for a whole day package and half price for kids betwenn 5-12). We enjoyed looking for dolphins even though I was slightly dissapointed that the dolphins didn't perform any acrobatic act. I was hoping for a dolphin friendly act in sync. I suppose when there are too many boats everyday, the dolphins would get tired eh?

Regardless we enjoyed the serene view. I was amazed looking at tiny villages in between the fjords and wondered what it is like to live there. Be rest assured that they do have electricity there. I have been looking at the distribution lines sprawling at the edge of the cliffs (one of my few habits I can't let go).

As we approached the jetty, we couldn't help feeling at awe at the jetty next to the rugged mountain with a little castle and watchtower looking out to the sea.

I like Musandam for its serenity and their slower pace. Older men walked about with an aid (not that they really need it)of a cane cum a small axe. This particular axe called a jeerz is unique in this part of the region. Naturally we bought one as a souvenier.

Food is quite cheap. In fact we didn't eat the hotel breakfast and instead enjoyed the hot paratha outside. With that we were also delighted watching fighter jets performing their routine flight. Did I tell you Musandam was a military zone and was only opened recently.

I was surprised that during one of our lunches we were also served with sambal kicap and cili potong mind you as condiment. Sambal kicap in Musandam!

Musandam, to me, is definitely worth a visit and I wouldn't mind coming again and again.

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More pictures of the magical Musandam HERE.

I am home

I just got back. Today's final trip back home must have been the longest journey in one take. We took about 12 hours driving from Abu Dhabi-Al Ayn-Abu Dhabi-Qatar. Why the round round you ask? Don't ask. Suffice that the navigator is feeling adventurous.

Oman had been everything I wanted from a trip. It has all the essential ingredients. Beautiful ever changing landscape, great people, mix of traditional and not too ultra modern life, bits of histories, pre historic life, ancient civilisation. In short everything.

Oman, home to rugged mountains, fort and fortress and castles, vast desert and amazing oasis. I just wish I could do more because there was so much to see. But alas time and money are against us. We enjoyed every moment of it though.

I am tired to write lots. Bags to pack. House to straighten up, clothes to wash and to get back the normal life. Been living out of the luggage for too long now. Am glad that we are safely home.

However, allow me to share with you a photo of our journey.

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A view of Al Hamra, Oman.