Thursday, June 16, 2005

Places to visit near Muscat

To my surprise, it seems the visitors to my blog consist solely of women! I was truely not expecting this. Considering the nature of the content of my Blog.

Well, after lots of requests from many women, and after banging my head against the wall continiously trying to find suitable sugestions, this entry is an attempt at suggesting interesting places for women not willing to drive far from town looking for a nice place to visit.

So, here are my sugestions for mini adventures near the capital Area, most of them are accessible by Saloon car.

  1. The first sugestion I have is to visit the sand dunes in Baushar, its an adventure in its own right and visiting the dunes at night gives a beautiful view of the whole city all the way to Seeb. For this adventure, you should idealy go by 4WD vehicle, but its not a must since it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to walk from the road to the top of the sand dunes. I would not recomend the walking in the summer at nights though, because all the insects seem to come out in the summer at night.
  2. My second sugestion for a mini adventure in Muscat is the road leading to Yiti, this does not require a 4WD. You turn right in Hamriya when you come to the sign. The road itself is a very interesting drive if you like mountains, and when you get to Yiti, its beautiful.
  3. There is the marshy pond on 18th November Road (coastal road from Athaiba to Al-Hail). The pond smells funny and looks more like a swamp. But you could catch a glimps of very interesting birds such as flamingos if you are interested in birdwatching. The surrounding beach itself is rather nice. Reasonable fishing could be achieved there if you know how.
  4. If you are into mountain climbing, the road to Seih Al-Dhabi and Al-Amirat from Wadi adai, on your right, in the wadi there is a very popular climbing spot, this rock is easy to spot since it is not the same type of rock as the rest of the mountain. Its smoother rock and more grayish in color compared to the rest of the mountains where the color is brown.

I hope that my few and far lame sugestions are of use to all you women out there. When I get back to town, I will try and research things more carefuly and come up with better sugestions. Please do post your comments and further sugestions here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Outdoor Man's Guide: Part 1

This entry, is a rough attempt at guiding you about what you need to go outdoors in Oman and actually have fun at it. As I keep on writing these articles, I hope to get better at them and hopefully end up with a good useful guide. This article will probably be rewritten as I gain experience writing things.

today's article is a Shopping list for the picnic going Omani, who is serious about it.

Things to get at first:
  1. A 4WD vehicle: You need one of these for several reasons:
    -They carry more things.
    -They carry more people.
    -They carry you to more places.
    Any 4WD will do when you start, you don't need anything fancy. In fact, my Daihatsu Terrios with 1.3l Engine and full time 4WD has shocked many people. I've yet to be stopped by terrain. It offers great luggage carrying capacity for such a small car. 3 People can have a great time in such a car if you fold down 1 seat for the luggage.
  2. Ice box: Get the best quality ice box you can afford. If you can afford it, buy one of those 6 days ice boxes, available at the Sultan Center. In fact, get two.. 1 big one of the the food and one small one for the drinks. Nobody wants their coke cans smelling like burgers or fish.
  3. Kettle: You can never get a satisfying picnic without tea or coffee brewed on the campfire. Get a kettle, we purchased ours from Lulu center for 4 Riyals and it has already served us through 9 picnics and going still.
  4. Grilling apparatus: You need some of those foldable metal grills where you just put your meat inside and close it. Then you just put the grill on the fire and turn the whole thing. These are readily available everywhere. A BBQ is nice, but not a must. It is good for places where litting a camp fire is not really an option. Places such as Wadi Shab where you are in a farm and lighting a camp fire is just plain stupid.
  5. Gas Lantern: Don't get the cheap orange ones as I have learnt. They wont last you through 1 picnic without some form of damage. Mine still works, but not as its supposed to. Get a camping gaz lantern. Or a coleman electric lantern. A flashlight wont do, the light is too focused. And those neon tube lights, my cousin swears by them but I find them irritating and the light too week. You need a proper lantern, one that you can hang to give a good amount of distributed lighting. If you can devise some sort of folding stand, even better.
  6. Nylon woven mats: You know, the ones we call Hasseer. They are cheap and great to sit on. Buy 2 or 3.
  7. Fire starting metal thingi: I don't know what the proper name is, but you go to the Sultan Center and they sell this metal tube with a handle, the tube has a diameter of around 6 Inches. You put the wood or charcoal on top and a newspaper on the bottom. Light the newspaper and hey presto, 10 minutes later you have a load of fully lighted charcoal.

Other things you will need:

  1. gardening gloves: Believe me, its not pleasant when having to gather fire wood. I learnt the hard way. Gardening gloves will save your hands from bleeding, itching and burning sensations.
  2. Axe: An axe is a must, because as we found out the hard way, breaking firewood by hand might be the more manly thing to do, but it sure is painful. Not to mention pulling thorns out of your hands for the rest of the day.
  3. Nylon tarp: Get a large nylon canvas. This is to wrap the fire wood inside and stop damage to your car and other things in the boot of the car.
  4. Tents & Sleeping bags: don't go cheap, get a good tent. I have seen many a camping trip get ruined due to bad tents. Same applies for the sleeping bags. I recommend coleman or Swiss army brand. Both available at the Sultan Center. don't go cheap, better not to buy than to go cheap.
  5. Rubber mallet: Useful for hammering tent pegs and other things.
  6. Cover Alls (Over Alls):You know, the clothes mechanics wear. These are great camping clothes. They keep the insects away, you don't mind if they get messed up, they are great if you have a flat tire. Available at Red Wing, around 14 riyals for a good one and 34 for an outstandingly cool one which is thermally insulated and includes a jacket.
  7. Foam rollable mat: You put this under your sleeping bag for comfort and to stop loosing heat in the winter. Great for when the ground is rough.

Safety & Driving equipment

  1. Check the spare tire: We have been caught before, I have it on video.
  2. Rope: Get something thick enough to take the load of a full car, preferably not nylon. If you have to, then take nylon. Also get a small thin nylon rope for disposable uses, such as hanging lanterns.
  3. Inflatable air jack: Great for sand dunes. It has saved me many times (even when my car fell of the pavement and the body was stuck on the pavement with no wheels touching the ground, don't ask how it happened).
  4. First aid kit.
  5. short planks of wood to put under the tires if you are stuck.
  6. A Shovel: I have a nice small foldable one, you guessed correctly again, from the Sultan Center.
  7. Fire extinguisher.

As you can see, the Sultan's Center seems to be a camping freaks dream. They seem to have everything!

Next, We shall discuss recipe's for the outdoors, or driving offroad, depending on my mood at the time.

I hope this article has been useful

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Dust Kills!

Now those of you working for oil companies that operate in the desert probably have heard this a lot of times. Yet, there is no harm in repeating it again here.

Dust kills, driving in the desert in dusty conditions can easily kill you in many and varied creative ways. Yesterday when I was driving from one Rig to another, a sand storm kicked up. It was not pleasant at all and visibility was around 10 meters. That's around 30 feet.

I got lost and got onto a wrong trail by mistake. This was narrow and there was no way to turn around till I got to a more open road. At the end of the trail, my car got stuck in the sand. Off course with all the cheap contracts we get these days, the company had supplied us with 2 WD pick-up trucks. So, here I am in the middle of nowhere in a sand storm with enough water to last me around 1 day only. I calculated it and if they are to notice that I am missing it would have been maybe 3 hours.. Which would be dark by then. And if they are to search for me it would be in the morning earliest that they would be able to find me where I had probably ended up. Now, this was on official business trip and they have records of my journey and journey plan. If this had been a picnics, chances of rescue would have been very slim. Which brings up another point. Bring as much water as you can when driving in the desert.

Luckily, I managed to get the car out of the sand purely from experience driving offroad and sheer power of torque available in a diesel engine. Yet, I still think I was lucky to be able to get out. Eventually I found my way out of there. What worried me was that although I was more than one and half hours late, nobody seemed to have noticed I was missing.

So remember, dust kills, even if indirectly!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Rant!

Here is a rant I reacently put up on a discussion forum.

I hope Muscat municipality is reading this. It would be good for them to know the feelings which many people hold in about this subject:

Is it just me imagining things? Or are the various manicipality offices in Oman systematicaly destroying all points of natural beauty in Oman?I went to Ain Jarzeez a few years back in Salalah and it was a place of outstanding natural beauty. Reacently I went to Salalah again and they had covered the full valey with coble stones, cemented of the spring. Put metal bars around the source of the water and built cement conduits on all the places the water used to flow from. What are they thinking? Next thing you know they will be covering the sea with concrete to provide parking space for the new starsucks near crown plaza!They are doing the same to the Sink hole, and they have done the same in Nakhal I heard. I'm sure there are other places where they are messing things up. Somebody should wake these guys up before its too late and we have no places of natural beauty left!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sorry!!!

Sorry all for the delay, I've been a bit busy with work. I am currently working on a new article. It is taking me some time to prepare. I'll get it posted as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Suggestions

Please do provide me with suggestions about what you want to see on this site. I am currently more interested on providding mini guides like the kayak one I just made instead of daily ramblings which could get rather borring.

Please provide your feedback in the comments link bellow this post and tell me what you think.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Kayak Adventure

I never thought that Oman would be a suitable place to go on a Kayak adventure. So today, we took my brand new Kayak, a Coleman Inflatable Sport Kayak, which I recieved as a birthday gift; and we set off to explore the mangrove in the natural reserve in Qurm near Crown Plaza. My two cousines had normal inflatable boats, which workd just fine, except for the fact that it was very hard to fight the currents in them because they werent well designed. They also didnt look too sturdy, I was always worried they would pop them against a tree or something and I'd have to rescue them with my one man boat.

The original plan was to paddle into the mangrove and come out of the other side, near the intercontinental. Unfortunately, the path was blocked and we could not get all the way to the other side. The place is amazing, a tranquile heaven in the middle of town. Once you drive far enough inside, there is no more evidence of being in a city. The sounds of the cars fade away, and the buildings dissapear. All you hear is bird song and the water. I think the place would be very interesting for bird watchers. The trip into the mangrove was rather relaxed, the current carried us inwards and all you had to do was occassionaly compensate for your direction. You have to make sure that you visit the mangrove durring high tide, I think it would be almost impossible to proceed with this adventure at low tide, since the water will be too shallow. At High tide, the water is around 1.5 meters deep.

After you have paddled in there, relaxed a bit, enjoyed the scenery, the battle beggins. There is a very strong current in that mangrove, and leaving it is not easy for somebody as unfit as I am. you need good strong continuos paddling, otherwise you will end up being dragged right back to where you came from. After a good bit of workout, when you finnaly beach your canoo or kayak, it is time to relax on the beach and maybe enjoy a bit of a swim.

The full ordeal will take you around two and a half hours. It is thouroughly satisfying and other than the one of cost of the boats, there isnt much cost involved in it. recomend everybody gets a life jaket, and plenty of drinking water, maybe a few packets of crisps too. This is a natural reserve, treat it with respect, and dont throw your trash in the water. Take it with you. Mobile phones, car keys, wallets and cameras can be stored in sealable sandwitch bags. You will get wet rowing, so dont bring any clothes you dont want to get wet. Bring a wide brim hat and sunblock. A good pump is essential, my 5 Riyal pump/vacum cleaner died out completely after inflatting just one boat.

Enjoy, and keep Oman clean.

P.S. It's my birthday today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Planning to go rafting.

I'm planning to go on a rafting trip next weekend for a change, going camping too regularly ruins the charm of it.

So, I'm going to look for an inflatable boat, or maybe I will build a raft from my left over wood from my previous attempts at building a boat. The destination for this adventure will be a nature reserve in Qurm, near Crown Plaza hotel, where a natural body of water extends through some mangrove and snakes around then comes out near the Intercontinental Hotel. I've heard that some very interesting birds species exist there. The challenge will be to come out of the other side without being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Jabal Shams

I went camping to Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain) yesterday, it was great. Only problem was that it was so windy that the tents started making fluttering noises all night, making it impossible to sleep. If anybody has a solution to this problem, I'd be realy happy.

Unfortunately I have no photos from this trip to Jabal Shams, only took my video camera. I'll post pictures from my previous trip instead.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Mars Explorers!