A Travellerspoint blog

The Oman Dive Centre

Oman under water

sunny 39 °C
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For loads more information about Oman (in Dutch and English) visit http://oman.startpagina.nl/

The last week I’ve been at the Oman Dive centre and I loved every minute of it. Well off course I have to say I’m only a starting PADI Open Water diver but hay you’ve got to start somewhere.
Today was extra special because I did two adventure dives, one was the deep dive and I went down to 30.7 meters (as an Open Water Diver you’re only allowed to go down to 18 meters). The second was the wreck dive apart from the dept another thing I saw at 30 meters made it extra special, I saw a sea snake. What’s so special about that? Well this specie had enough poison to kill 10 people with one bite. He needs a big mouth for that off course but still. The other thing which made this day extra special was that I had my first encounter with sharks under water in real life; we saw 4 Black Tip Reef sharks. The strange thing about it is that I didn’t feel scared at all, which I always thought I’d be if I would see one under water, but instead I chased it because I was fascinated. Well there’s no way to chase a shark, because they are unbelievably quick and you’re just a slug compared to their speed.
The only thing I can say after these last 3 week in Oman is, start learning how to dive and come to Oman, you’ll love it.
Signing off from Muscat Oman, you’re guide for the last three weeks.
Thank you all for reading my blog.

Posted by erodrigo 08:37 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Rub-Al Khali (The Empty Quarter)

Not so empty

sunny 41 °C
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My last tour in Salalah took me to the Empty Quarter, which wasn’t as empty as the name indicates. There where a lot of Alfalfa farms around and the crops grew very well, off course a lot of intensive irrigation is used to grow the Alfalfa. The thing that struck me most about is that when you looked at the ground you couldn’t believe anything would grow on this bare rocky sand like ground, but it does.
On our drive to the Empty Quarter the temperature rose from a agreeable 27 degrees Celsius to a scorching 41 one in just a few kilometers. You start out at sea level in Salalah and drive up the mountain range in the north, trough the green and when you reach about 900 meters above sea level you go trough some valleys where you see the green slopes gradually change to bare slopes with absolutely nothing growing on them.
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In the Empty Quarter we first brought a visit to Ubar, the lost city. This city was discovered on a satellite photo and subsequently dug up from the sands. It’s believed to be the lost Bedouin city which played a large part in the frankincense trade, as it was the last, or first depending on the direction your going off course, oasis in a other wise bare desert. It is now on the UNESCO world heritage list but there is not much to see; only a few pair of rocks piled on top of each other indicates what might have been some houses or other buildings in the past.
We ended the tour with some dune driving and then it was time to go back to Salalah, my driver took a turn off the main road and we descended from the mountain range on a secondary road, I thought I ended up in France or the Black Forest, it was so incredibly green and luscious you wouldn’t have believed to be in the Middle East.

Posted by erodrigo 06:09 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

Near to Yemen

Nope didn't cross the border

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Today I had a day at leisure, time to reflect on what I’ve see so far and think about what to write more about this land of contrasts, the best thing I came up with was just tell you what I did yesterday and let you decide for yourselves.
We went to the west yesterday in the direction of Yemen, don’t worry we stayed in Oman, after another kidnapping of French tourists last week I wasn’t planning on going there yet.
First we went to visit the tomb of Job, at least they claim its here, because as I understood it Syria has also two sites which claim to be the grave of Job. So either Job was a much disorganized person leaving parts of his body all over the place or some of the sites are not all they claim to be. After this my driver/guide showed me the trees the Dhofar region has been known for, for centuries all over the world, the frankincense trees.
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I started wondering who and how someone came up with this product, because to get the frankincense you first have to cut the bark of the tree, after which the tree starts to ‘bleed’ milky white liquid. Then you have to let it rest until it dries up into crystals and only after that you can pick the crystals and burn them for their sent. I’m sorry to say my driver didn’t know the answer so you have to look it up for yourself if you want to find out.
After this painstaking question remained unanswered we went up into the mountains to see some spectacular scenery. Although the roads in Oman are very good, they stay very steep and have some very sharp turns in them, which make driving trough the Omani mountains not for the people with weak nerves or high anxiety. Those of us who do not have these fears enjoy the drive and can’t get enough of it.
We topped the day of by enjoying a pot of Omani coffee, very strong and bitter coffee accompanied by dates, at Mughsayl beach. Here are blow holes perforations in the limestone rock, which sea water gushes through during high tide.
I asked my driver to take me to a nice restaurant in town where I could enjoy a lovely meal; he must not have understood me correctly because he took me to the Oasis club, which is a Expats bar. (Expats are people from all over the world working in a country of which they don’t own citizenship)
And as luck turned out I crashed another party, this time from an expatriate who was on the brink of returning back home to the Netherlands, after a 23 month stay on extending the harbor of Salalah for Maersk. Together with his colleague they where the only two Dutch guys around in Salalah, well after me joining them there was a 50% increase in the Dutch population in this town. Just goes to show you how one man can make a difference :-)

Posted by erodrigo 06:43 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Queen of Sheba

semi-overcast 29 °C
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Monday the 11th of September, yes 9/11, I visited the west of Salalah. Our first stop was at a fishing village called Taqah, it must have been an important or strategic town in the past because it was surrounded by four watchtowers/forts and a real fort at the centre of town. We proceeded further west to visit the queen of Sheba, well that is, the ruined city of Samhuram at Khor Rori creek, which is said to have been a residence of the queen of Sheba.
After we paid our respects to her majesty we went on to Mirbat, the ancient capital of the Dhofar region. In the 9th century this town was famous for its trade in frankincense, horses and slaves. Now it looks like a sleepy little fishing town.
On the way back to Salalah I got my first up-close view of how green the region is after the Monsoon season. Near Tarqah we turned toward the mountains and drove for about 8 kilometers over some steep and sharply curved roads and ended up at a valley. What you see is unbelievable if you have you’re average idea of how the Middle East looks like. You get the idea that you’re in a valley in the Alps, but you can’t rime it because the trees and flowers are completely wrong for the Alps. After the Monsoon there is an abundance of trees, flowers and water.
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The Arab people love it and during the monsoon season itself they drive and fly up here in hordes, a room is hardly available then in Salalah. Since I arrived one week after the schools have started I had no problem getting a room, but don’t think it will be that easy from June till August. There where still some Arab tourists left, I saw a couple form Kuwait and one from Dubai, both in there own car and some other people enjoying a picnic near the river. Well it makes a lot of sense when you think of it, that people from the Middle east come hear during the rainy season to enjoy the coolness and have a picnic in the rain. After all we western’s fly off to the sun to escape the rain because we have so much of it, so why not the other way around if you have sun and heat all year.

Posted by erodrigo 00:32 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

Salalah, Oman

How a 1000 Km make a big difference

sunny 29 °C
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Yesterday I flew to Salalah from Muscat and it’s absolutely unbelievable what the locals bring with them. Except from the enormous bags; I saw, amongst other things, a big screen digital TV and a Keyboard.
The temperature had dropped 10 degrees Celsius, from a hot 39 in Muscat, to a very agreeable 29 degrees Celsius here in Salalah. Also the difference in landscape struck me, I new it would be greener here, but I hadn’t expected this. It’s a lot greener after the Monsoon than in Muscat, everything is blossoming.
What also struck me is that a lot of the women here wear facials masks and in Muscat hardly any woman wears one, maybe it’s because they’re more traditional here in the southwest of Oman. This morning I noticed a woman eating with the mask and they lift it up just enough to let the spoon reach the mouth, it must be very uncomfortable.
Today I went on my first tour to see Salalah. The first stop was the supposed tomb of Ishmael, the grandfather of Jesus. My first thought was that he must have been a very tall guy because it was 10-12 meters long, but my guide explained that it was so long because they didn’t know exactly where the head was so they covered “the whole 9 yards” :-)
After that remarkable visit we drove along the Garden Farms where there was an enormous display of fruits, dates and coconuts, all freshly picked from the trees and put up for sale at the stands next to the farms. The way they farm here is very ingenious, the highest plants are the coconut and date trees, then at the middle level you have the fruit trees and at ground level they grow the vegetables, in this way the vegetables aren’t burnt up by the sun.
We also made a stop at the Shanfari mosque, which is beautiful through the green colors and the interior designs. Hereafter we visited another holy place, namely the Camel Footprint. It’s believed that the Camel of the prophet Saleh was killed here by opponents of the prophet and his footprints were put in the rocks and his blood stained that same rock. Whether it is true or not, it’s a good story and if you see the rock it actually makes sense. After a drive along the Sultans summer palace and a visit to the new and old souq, where they sell lovely smelling crystals of frankincense, we drove to the archeological park. Here are the ruins of an old city which even Marco Polo made a note about. We were very lucky, because the new museum had just been opened yesterday and we were one of the first visitors there. The museum hasn’t been opened officially yet, off course I was very honored :-)
Well kids good night and more tomorrow or the day after, I’ll see when you deserve it.
Oman 362.jpg

Posted by erodrigo 11:04 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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