Monthly Archives: December 2012

In Which We Meet Dubai’s Fiery Neighboor, and Stumble Into Oman Through The Back Door

Here it is, the final blog post before Egypt! Sean and I leave for Cairo on Saturday, December 22. We’ve got four days in Cairo, then a week in Luxor. We are so excited, we can barely wait. I have been writing down every Egyptian delicacy I can find on the internet, Googling “hidden Cairo” for months now, and compiled a bucket list that would make the Pharaoh tired. My parents and sister are meeting us in Cairo on the 23rd, and we are spending the duration of our travels with them. I am so excited to experience Egypt with them; neither them nor us have been there before, so it will be a first-time experience for everyone!

We’re certain we will be safe the entire time, too. We’ve booked tours during our time in Cairo, and have gotten a really good feel for the areas we will be staying in. I will hopefully post updates while we’re there! Stay tuned, and happy holidays : )

My last blog post of this year is, again, about Oman. Kind of. Before you write us off as obsessive, this trip took another format. We heard that you could fly into Dubai and drive to the Oman peninsula, where the Straight of Hormuz is located. The name of the peninsula is “Musandam”, and is known for it’s mountains, azure waves, and dolphins. Since the flight to Dubai is so short and inexpensive, and the road trip was supposed to last only two hours, we thought we’d take a long weekend and give it a shot.

We were so glad we did.
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(Click on the above photo for an awesome panorama.) This is Khor Al Najd, in Musandam. We drove the windy road down to the coast in our little 2WD rental! Twice! We visited once when it was rather cloudy, but came back on a clearer day for this fantastic shot. “Khor” is Arabic for “hidden place”.
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Here I am at sea level in Khor Al Najd. So much marine life!

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There isn’t much to do at the base of Khor Al Najd, except to wonder at the views. We walked around for a bit, took some pictures, and had lunch.

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We had company on our mountain lookout. We were eating lunch when this guy was walking around on the cliffs below us, snapping photos on his iPhone. Just another tourist like us : )

 

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Our first night, we stayed outside the village of Khasab. Unfortunately, it’s possible to take vehicles onto the beaches in Oman, which makes for crowded, loud weekends on the beach. We opted for a more secluded, “look-out” campsite, where no cars were to be found. What paradise. We just made sure that the zipper of the tent was facing inland, so we didn’t step off the cliff!

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The fort in Khasab. Oman has long-standing history of disagreements with the Portuguese (see my earlier post). These forts were built a couple hundred years ago, and renovated recently as a testament to the Omani history.

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Sean and I hanging out inside the fort.

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The bathroom in the fort. So much more exciting than the boring “girl in a dress” icon we’ve got on the bathrooms in America. Sean was obsessed with their gender identification. The woman on the right is wearing an abaya and is completely covered, and the man on the left is wearing a head scarf, a dishdasha, and an Omani dagger. So much more intricate than stick figures!

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We had to get up early to see the fort so that we could be on time to the dock for the 10am dhow cruise. As we had heard, Musandam is a beautiful landscape of “fjords”, which are best seen from the water. Therefore, we decided to book a full-day cruise on a dhow (a traditional Arabic fishing boat). Not only would we sail near the Straight of Hormuz (being only 40 miles from Iran), but would snorkel in the fjords, have a traditional Arabic lunch on board the boat, and be dropped off at a private beach to camp afterward. While we didn’t see this, we had read that the Khasab port is notorious for smuggling goats back and forth from Iran in exchange for American cigarettes (which are banned in Iran)! The above picture was taken as our dhow left the harbor.
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We took precautions and wore lots of sunscreen and covered ourselves as much as we could. Look at how powerful and arid this region is! It’s all striking cliffs, no vegetation, and beautiful, blue water. The dhow was really comfortable; it was set up with cushions for sitting on, and lots of Arabic tea for sipping. (We love Arabic tea; we think it’s comprised of saffron, black tea, sage, and LOTS of sugar.)

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Sean relaxing as we sailed further into the fjords. There were only four other tourists on the boat with us! There was an old Omani man steering the dhow, and our “guide” was from Morocco and wore a NY Yankees baseball hat. I haven’t seen anyone so knowledgeable and passionate about the ocean. He said he is a certified diver, and it sounded like he had dived all over the Mediterranean as well as the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.
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The boat had a nice canvas shade so we weren’t hit by the sun all of the time. (Look at those mountains!)

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The comfortable dhow : )

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We’re not kidding, we saw over twenty dolphins! As the boat was sailing, dolphins would swim alongside the boat with us. They loved to ride the currents created by the boat.
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It was truly magical. What happy, beautiful creatures.

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As you can see, dhow cruises are fairly popular. We ran into a few other boats during our venture. But ours was the least crowded.

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When we stopped to dive, our guide tossed a piece of bread into the water, and it sparkled with fish. The snorkeling was a lot of fun.

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There were islands in the fjords, and even small villages where people have lived for, probably, over a thousand years. The villages are just small buildings built right on the edge of the water, and they are brought fresh water from the government every month. Most of the homes are fisherman’s homes, who also have a small home on the mainland. The tour boats are forbidden from sailing too close to the villages, though, and rightfully so. It looked so quiet and peaceful from afar.

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After the dhow cruise was over, it was 4pm, and time for us to be dropped off at the beach. Since there’s only one road that winds through Musandam, it’s tough to find a completely quiet place to yourself that has road access. However, you can go to the port in the morning and pay anybody with a boat to drop you off at a secluded beach for the night. We talked to the people we booked our dhow cruise with, and they knew a great beach we could stay at. Since they were a reputable company, we knew we’d actually be picked up in the morning! The above photo (click on it for a great panorama) is the beach we camped at. What a gorgeous cove. The name of it was called “Seebel Kareeb”.

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Sean snapped a picture of me playing on the rocks at our hidden cove beach.

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Once we pitched our tent, we played in the sand, swam, and ate hummus until the sun set.

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The sun created a rosy glow on the mountain that was just beautiful.

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The guy who dropped us off was nice enough to give us lighter fluid and some old, dried up logs, so we made a campfire. (Those of you in the States may think that’s no big deal, but how many trees have you seen in the pictures so far in this blog?) As we sat by the campfire, we were treated to a beautiful meteor shower!

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When we woke up in the morning, we had to refrain from swimming. The tide must have been really rough the night before, or there was a mass birthing of jellyfish, because we found fifteen or so “piles” of baby jellyfish floating in the water. When you get stung by them, it doesn’t necesariyl “hurt”, but it’s a strange, uncomfortable, tingling, prickling feeling. Kind of like when you touch a cactus. No thanks!

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This was before we saw the jellyfish babies… we played in the water until we felt the stinging….

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We still managed to make a beautiful shell-garden before the boat picked us up in the morning.

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The next day, we decided to drive the “Acacia Forest” at the end of the road. Literally. On the map, there was a road that lead straight into the mountain, and ended where it said, “Acacia Forest”. We decided to check it out seeing as a forest in the desert sounded intriguing to us. What we found there was a herd…. no, a hoard… no, an INVASION of goats.

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The reason the forest exists here is because this area is the main water-drainage route for any rain that falls in the moutains. What I find fascinating is that no one has built homes under the shade of the trees! It was very park-like and quiet.

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We didn’t see another person the whole time, but we saw a lot of goats. Sean calls this picture, “Goat Ad Infinitum”. Can you spot the goat seemingly suspended in mid-air? How many goats can YOU count?

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They were climbing the trees!

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As I have said before, Sean likes to watch me squirm around goats. I don’t really like goats. Sean loves goats. This guy followed us around the forest for fifteen minutes. He was sad to see us go. Sean called him ‘Goaty’. Arabs own a lot of goats, as they are a kind of status symbol. Your wealth used to be based on your heard, and even though it doesn’t apply anymore, they still have herds of goats. They slaughter goats for weddings and religious ceremonies. Goat milk and goat cheese is popular. They’re everywhere!

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On our way out of Musandam, we stopped for a final picture.

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The road out of Musandam. Quite undrivable during big waves!

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One of the villages on the way to Khasab. I have never see such rich greens next to such blue blues 🙂

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As we left Musandam, we made our way back to Dubai. We loved to drive past the rolling sand dunes. We certainly don’t have these in Kuwait, contrary to what you may think. Kuwait doesn’t have any dunes – it’s much more flat, without any shifting sands or change in elevation. We were fascinated.

DubaiSkylineAs we got closer to Dubai, the Burj Khalifa sprouted out of the skyline. (That’s the tallest building in the world, ladies and gentlemen!) It was really neat to drive a rental car around Dubai; we got to see the skyline from so many interesting perspectives. We could see the Burj Khalifa on the horizon for an entire HOUR before we reached the parking lot for the mall, underneath the tower. (We timed it.) What a huge building!


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Ahhhh, Arabia. The land of contrasts. A picture says a thousand words…

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We took this picture for all of you who think we are suffering over here in the Middle East. We have TOO many options to choose from… Starbucks? Caribou Coffee? Take your pick! 

BurjAtNight1We finished off our trip with an ice cream while watching the fountain and light show at the Dubai Mall. The building on the far right is the Burj Khalifa. There is absolutely no feasible way you can fit it in one photograph unless you lay down on the ground and point your camera up to the sky. Our flight left at 11pm, so we had ample time to relax and indulge in all the things we had done without while camping in Musandam. Our trip was a perfect combination of opulent and serene!

We leave for Cairo tomorrow, so I will update you as soon as we can! Merry Christmas, or as they say in Arabic…  well, I don’t know how to say it. All of our Muslim families at school wished us Merry Christmas in English : )  I will just wish you blessings in your holiday season, Mubarak!

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Categories: Dubai, Oman | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As Sifah Beach: Oman’s Paradise

All right, here it is! My final post on our trip to Oman over Eid. This post will be short, as it spans the course of the final day of our vacation, and all took place on one beach. And oh my, what a beach it was! A girlfriend of mine had recommended we go to As Sifah beach, which is only an hour’s drive outside of Muscat. We planned on driving out to the beach on our second-to-last day, spending the night, and than having a leisurely last day in the sparkling blue water before flying home. Everything worked out perfectly. As promised, As Sifah beach turned out to be absolutely beautiful. It is only accessible by a one-lane road that winds through the mountains that surround Muscat. You climb incredibly steep, narrow, and winding roads for forty-five minutes. There were moments that the turns were tighter than the length of the car! You literally had to slow down, crank the steering wheel, and make a hard turn while you accelerated on the gas pedal to continue up the steep hills. It was really hidden and tucked away in the mountains. Once you had climbed uphill for what seemed like forever, the road dropped steeply downhill, to return to you sea-level, where the beach was.

On our way to the beach, we passed beautiful lagoons. The Arabic word for these places is “khawr”, and a khawr is kind of like a marine-life sanctuary. Another appropriate term for them would be an estuary, as they are shallow bodies of water connected to the ocean. They are popular with the fisherman and are a highly protected area.

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The khawrs on our way to Yiti and As Sifah beach. The above picture is a panorama, so click on it for a real treat. (Click on it again, once it opens, to see it full size. You can zoom in and move around, exploring the whole area on your screen!)

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Once we got reached the ocean we came to Yiti beach. It was beautiful, pristine, but quite crowded. We decided to continue down the road to As Sifah beach.

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Once in As Sifah, we fell in love with the remote stretches of white sand and crystal clear waters. We spent the evening swimming, playing frisbee, and watching the sunset.

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For dinner, we decided to splurge and treat ourselves to the one restaurant in As Sifah. It was a seafood restaurant on the beach, and it was divine!

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They really could charge anything, with a location like that.

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That night, we relaxed with a game of cribbage while waiting for our feast.

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I tried to take the above picture in poor lighting and on the wrong setting. Anyways, on the far right is hamoor, the local fish that I ordered, and on the left side is Sean’s platter of fish and shrimp. Not to mention the plethora of Middle Eastern dips and spreads that blanketed our table. It sure made the canned hummus we choked down every other day while living out of a tent worth it!

AsSifahIn the morning we watched the sunrise. (Click on the panorama above, clicking again on the photo to open it up all the way.) That’s the nice thing about camping; you wake up early enough to see the beauty of the world unfold…


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We spent our last day playing on the beach in As Sifah. The water was the cleanest and purest I have ever seen. The beach was also spotless. It was a day to remember!IMG_2856

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Sean was very proud of his sandcastle!

IMG_2881Before we got on the plane we drove around Muscat for a little while. You can see the Royal Opera House in this photo. Isn’t Oman just amazing? The Sultan loves opera and the arts, respects and protects their natural resources, and the people are the nicest I’ve met in this corner of the world.

I wish I could say, “We plan on going back”, but that’s precisely what we did. Two weeks after this trip. No joke. But this time, instead of flying into Muscat, we flew into Dubai. We drove to a place called Musandam, which is technically part of Oman, and has some of the most stunning scenery and wildlife I’ve seen so far this year. I know, how can I say that after a trip like this? Check in with me next week to find out…

Categories: Oman | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oman: What The Rest Of The Tourists See

Today’s blog post focuses on the Oman that everybody pictures when they hear “Oman”…. unless you’re like us, and couldn’t even pin Oman on a map before we moved to Kuwait. Never fear! The Oman that we documented on today’s travels is a part of the “Muscat-Sur Road”. It’s the major road that runs North – South along the coast. When people travel to Oman and want to do a drive-by vacation, this is the road they take to see some of the more easily accessed sights. Down and back, you could do this in a day or two if you really tried. Everything (except where we camped), is paved, so it’s easy traveling. The coast was, no joke, unbelievably beautiful. While the mountainous part of Oman had villages and people in every nook and cranny, the coast seemed wildly abandoned. Due to its rocky nature it was never conducive to farming or setting up shop near the wind and the waves. Therefore, it’s still in its untrammeled state.

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Here I am in Sur. We made a loop with our driving, heading North up the coast to Muscat. Sur was a cute, quiet town on the ocean front. It was surprisingly empty! We barely saw anyone the few hours we were there. I know, it sounds silly, but we were spoiled by the wild natural playgrounds the mountains and beaches of Oman had to offer. After forty-five minutes in a city and we were ready to head to the hills again!

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Oman has a long and interesting history. It was disputed over for a long time between the Arab tribes and the Portuguese. For a period, the Portuguese were successful in their conquests and held control over Oman. They build hundreds of forts all throughout the country. You can’t drive twenty miles without seeing a small fort/stronghold/lookout built into a nearby cliff! During the 90’s, Sultan Qaboos (the “president” of Oman) made it his mission to modernize Oman by building up its infrastructure and promoting its tourism. However, he was adamant about still keeping their cultural heritage in tact and highly present. Therefore, alongside the fancy, paved highways and the plethora of rest stops and road signs, he reconstructed hundreds of forts and cultural sights so that the Omani people would hold on to, and be proud of, their history. Didn’t I say I loved this country?

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This was the “beach” Sean and I walked along in Sur. There was no sand on the beach—it was comprised of millions of shells. They say there’s great snorkeling and diving in Oman, too!

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After Sur we drove up the highway a bit, frantic about finding a place to camp before sun set. When you’re dispersed camping, it gets stressful when you have to just pull off the road and “find a spot” to pitch your tent! While you have more privacy (hopefully), you don’t have the peace of mind that comes with an established campground. After about an hour on the highway, I grew extremely frustrated by the crowded beaches stocked with tents and SUV’s, so I turned on my flashers and pulled a hard right into the dirt. Since the highway was so close to the ocean, I figured there HAD to be private, secluded places to camp. Lo and behold, I was right! Not only did we have beautiful views, but we didn’t hear the roar of a generator or the music of other campers or a passerby all night. My chaotic, “Ok, this is enough! We’re stopping here!” ended up being entirely fruitful and pleasant!IMG_2706

The view from our campsite in the morning.
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Sean was so proud of the table and chairs he had built for our campfire the night before!IMG_2708

We walked along the coast for a while and found the rocks teeming with crabs! IMG_2715

Our first destination on this new and beautiful day was Wadi Shab. This is the most accessible, and therefore the most popular, Wadi in all of Oman. We set out on the trail at 7am and lucky beat the crowds. The first step was to wade through a river half a football field long! (On our way back, when it was crowded, we found there was a guy in a small boat ferrying hikers from side to side. We still waded through the river on our way back. You’ll see why in a minute.)IMG_2715.5

(Click on the above photo for one of Sean’s amazing panoramas!) Wadi Shab started out immensely large. The cliffs were high and the canyon floor was wide. We didn’t know how far back we were supposed to go, but just keep trekking on.IMG_2726

Eventually the Wadi narrowed and became lush with palm trees and trickling water… we knew the oasis wasn’t far away.IMG_2731

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You can see pools forming in the bottom of the Wadi below me in both of the above photos. I always find it hard to believe that a country as seemingly arid as Oman on the outside can be so lush and full of water if only you look hard enough! Where does it all come from?

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Sure enough, we quickly found what makes Wadi Shab so famous. The gigantic hidden swimming pools! After climbing over a series of massive boulders, we were met by deep emerald pools, perfect for swimming. (We weren’t alone!) Turns out, if you swim around the corner in the above photo—which we did—you come across a narrow passageway you must swim underneath. Once you swim through that, you find a beautiful hidden waterfall, completely immersed in a cave! The guys in the above photo were trying to climb up and over the barrier instead of swimming under and through it. You can go both ways. We swam under and through.IMG_2733

This is why we waded through the river on our way back out. We were completely soaked from head to foot! Wadi Shab is a hiking/swimming paradise. IMG_2733.5

Sean took a great panorama of the Wadi on our way out.

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As I said, a day in Oman isn’t complete without a herd of goats!IMG_2744

The final place we stopped was near Wadi Shab. After the hike out of the Wadi, we wanted a place to stop and have lunch before driving up to the Muscat area for our final night. We had heard of  a “forested park” and a “sinkhole” near Wadi Shab. Sure enough, we came across a very popular park-like area not too far from the Wadi. You parked your car on a gravel road, and walked into a fenced off area complete with gazebos and picnic areas. It reminded me of  State or a County park in New Mexico.   The whole reason for its existence, though, was the sinkhole…SinkHoleSean took this great photo (click for panorama) of the Bimmah sinkhole. (Also called the Dibab sinkhole.) It’s about a quarter of a mile away from the ocean, and is VERY salty! You wouldn’t want to swim in it unless you wanted massive amounts of salt crusted onto your skin and baked to perfection under the relentless sun. It’s like a human potato-chip maker! But in all seriousness, the sinkhole is a natural phenomenon that occurs from erosion. The guidebooks say there are fish who live in the waters that nibble your toes for a natural pedicure. I decided to pass on that one. The pool is so deep people dive from the rim into the water. We didn’t see anyone do this on our trip though, and I’m somewhat thankful for that. Overall, it was a wild place to visit!

Okay, okay, there is only *one* more blog about our trip to Oman. After that… the secret place I was hinting about last time… it’s all coming up soon! Then, Sean and I are off to meet my parents and sister in Egypt for Christmas. Never a dull moment. I want to leave you with a thought I heard from a friend of mine today…

“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.  – Tim Ferriss

Categories: Oman | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oman: Mountain Peaks and Waterfalls

 

 

Happy December! I hope you are looking forward to the Christmas season and take a few moments to reflect on the past year and to spend time with loved ones. Spending time doesn’t have to mean being face-to-face, either. Sometimes the highlight of my week here in Kuwait is coming home from work to say hello to my sister and her miniature Australian Shepherd on Skype. She drinks a coffee to wake up, and I’m finishing up a bowl of ice cream after a long day. One of my other favorite things to do is to pick a new recipe to cook while I Skype my parents in the kitchen. We love to spend hours together, just talking about what their plans are for the day, and what I’m making for dinner.

Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’d like to say how thankful I am for the opportunities to spread my wings and travel the world, while at the same time maintaining some of the deepest roots. I am thankful for my family, my friends here in Kuwait as well as abroad, and my wonderful, loving and supportive husband. I dedicate this blog post to all of you.

Now, if you HAVEN’T booked your plane ticket to Oman yet, I hope this post causes you to reconsider and begin checking prices on Expedia. (Or, Skyscanner, which is my new favorite flight search engine.) I combined two travel days together, which I did not only to save time, but to show what a country of geographical contrast Oman is!

When we woke up at the base of the moutnain, Jebel Shams, we took our trusty rental car and began gaining elevation. We were nervous, having been cautioned against taking a 2WD to the top, not to mention that the pavement turned into gravel about half-way up. Being the true Wisconsinites we are, we soldiered on. In forty-five minutes, we made it to the top of Jebel Shams! Our car held up well. We were greeted by a small village with a few people, beautiful views, and a garden of goats. Seriously. Goats in Oman are like horseflies in the Midwest during the summer. Not only are they everywhere, but to the point of inconvenience. Just when you think you are packing your lunch at the trunk of your car, you feel a nudge on your elbow, and all of a sudden you’ve got a new best friend! I have never liked goats; there is something about them that unnerves me. As you can see in the above picture, Sean particularly enjoyed watching me squirm. (Also, it was difficult to snap wide panoramas of the mountains due to the angle of lighting, but look at the road and the mountains in the distance of the photo!)
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We were eager to leave the goats behind (and by “we”, I mean me), so we set out on our hike for the day. It was called the ‘balcony walk’ and/or the ‘abandoned village walk’, and we walked along the edge of a gigantic canyon to some small ruins set back in the cove of the cliff. The views were absolutely incredible.

We hadn’t anticipated the sheer size of the place! It was huge!

You can spot a person standing on the ledge above my head. One missed step and you had a long way to fall.

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Here we are almost to the end of the hike. You can see the back of the canyon. I loved the “cave-like” rock formation behind us; it looked as if a whole chunk of the mountain was bitten out.

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The haze prohibited us from getting long-distance shots, but Sean loved the sweeping views and plateaus of the place.

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Once back at the bottom of the mountain, which also required some harrowing driving, we stopped for a picture at a small village called Ghul. It was, of course, near a wadi, which explains all the palm trees, and Wadi Ghul is famous for it’s crazy off-road experience. We chose to just take pictures from afar. We loved how the ruins were left on the mountainside—the more modern village (still very small) is to the right of this photo. Their farmlands are nestled at the base of the homes their grandparent’s grandparents lived in years ago.IMG_2569

After Jebel Shams, we had a ways to drive to our next destination. Jebel Shams is located in the Western Hajar mountains, really only two hours away from Muscat. Therefore, our first day was an easy drive. From there we needed to head around three hours south to Wadi Bani Khalid, and then East to the coast. The drive down to Wadi Bani Khalid was beautiful, but as we left the mountains behind, we drive through flat plains, with dunes on our right, and mountains on our left. All of a sudden, we came across an abrupt left turn in the middle of the plains, and we began to drive straight into the mountains. Up, down, over, under, curving roads wound us deeper and deeper into the hills. All of a sudden, we climbed a massive incline, only to drop deep down the other side to an isolated village that was flowered with hundreds of palm trees, flowing rivers, bananas, and little children saying hello. It was beautiful! Unfortunately, we failed to appreciate it at 7pm when we were unable to find a place to camp for the night. Since Wadi Bani Khalid is located in, obviously, a wadi, the steep sides of the canyon prevent for any place to escape the crowds and camp. We looked for two hours for a place, and finally decided upon sneaking behind this concrete corral and pitching our tent. We were a little disappointed, having heard that the camping here was excellent. Later we found out that the place to camp is actually ON the hike—you need to port your stuff in on your back and camp way back in the wadi on the hike. Regardless, with a glass of red wine, some fresh hummus, and the morning view in the photo below, we were pretty happy!

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Looking into Wadi Bani Khalid in the morning.

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I strongly encourage you to click on the above photo and open it on a new page. Sean has done a fantastic job stitching together beautiful panoramas, and I’ve put a few onto this blog. The photo above is on the first half of our hike in Wadi Bani Khalid. We climbed a small cliff and looked back into the village.

 

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Here’s Sean walking into the most popular part of the wadi, the pools. You can see the falaj system! (The aqueducts!)

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We had to hike this part really early in the morning due to the crowds. Since we went over a holiday weekend (Eid Al Adha, the festival of sacrifice), all of Oman had a week-long vacation. Therefore, the place became absolutely packed during the afternoon. Can you believe these are all-natural pools in the above photo?

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Walking back further into the pools, the walls grew more narrow, and the scenery became more stunning. We had the place all to ourselves! We think this is where our friends recommended we should camp. We’ll just have to go back again : )

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We took a quick dip in the pools. All that climbing around the rocks heated us up! It really is the true definition of an oasis.

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After the pools, we knew there was another part of Wadi Bani Khalid that needed exploring. See, you need to picture the wadi like a T intersection. Once we drove in, we could turn left, to the pools, where the canyon walls narrowed and the water accumulated, or right, where the walls also narrowed and the water again grew plentiful and tumultuous. In the photo above, we have just set off on the hike to the “right”, back into the steep part of the wadi. This was the quiet part of the day! This part of the wadi was really difficult to access as you had to hike a ways over rocks to get there. Behind me is the village.


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The further back into the wadi we hiked, the more beautiful it got. Eventually there were entire boulders blocking our passage, and deep, rushing rivers. If you’ve ever been to Zion National Park, it’s much like that!

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After climbing some more rocks and picking our own route (you really can’t get lost in a canyon. You’re either walking in or out) we came across our first waterfall. We couldn’t believe it! I don’t know what we expected, but this blew our minds. It was gorgeous. We spent time swimming and relaxing, basking in the sun and the silence of paradise.

 

 

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I love this photo (above) because it helps show how narrow the wadi really gets.

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Click on the above photo for another fantastic, beautiful panorama Sean created!

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This is also another panorama Sean took in the wadi. Click on it to see the real scale. We loved how narrow and twisty it all was. There was a hidden swimming pool and water slide around every corner.

After exploring the wadi for a few hours, we realized we had better turn around and hike out. We had a limited supply of water, and the wadi was getting hot. It’s easy to over-extend yourself when hiking downhill, back into a canyon! We wanted to make sure we could get back out.

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Sure enough, we made it out safe and sound, and began our drive out of Wadi Bani Khalid. We couldn’t resist taking the photo of this guy, going about his daily activities.

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I like the photo above for two reasons. One, you can see that the road and the river are flush with one another. There is no ledge to prevent your car from driving straight into the water, Wisconsin Duck-style. Secondly, these guys are cleaning up all of the sacrifices from Eid Al Adha. Since this Eid is the festival of sacrifice, the people in the village just brought their sacrificial animal down to the road by the river, held their traditional ceremony, and then many of the inedible innards of the animals were left there afterward. These guys were cleaning up shop. (Barf.)

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Our final view as we drove out of Wadi Bani Khalid. It sure helps put it into perspective! This photo is looking back into the “right side of the T intersection” as I was describing it. This is where the waterfall hike was : )

I have hopefully one or two more posts on our Eid trip, then I have a fantastic secret, magical place to share with you! If you ever find yourself in Dubai… I am going to show you the secrets of swimming with dolphins and diving off cliffs… (kind of). But seriously, so much awaits the eager reader, and the even more eager blogger! Stay tuned! And remember to be thankful for how beautiful our lives truly are. Every day that passes will never be had again. Make it count. Call or Skype someone you care about. Take a walk. Sean is standing next to me right now, begging to go to Mc Donald’s for ice cream. Guess it’s time to go be thankful for the love of my life.

See you next time!

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