Monday, January 18, 2010

The Cowboy Trip

I say cowboy because in my language (spelt 'koboi') it means unplanned, unsuspected and in other words, 'roughing it' (no offense to any cowboys out there, but cowboys are rough n rugged n sometimes can be dashingly handsome!) :) . 'Koboi' is not a registered word in the Malay dictionary, so don't go looking for it!

Anyways, I promised pics from my trip. I've put them all up in Facebook, so I'll just put one or two here. A little bit about my trip... There were 12 people in the group. We left Dubai at around 11pm on the 25th of November 2009. The person in charge had rented a coaster (sort of like a mini bus) which came with a driver (thank god) and we glided through the night heading for Musandam, Oman.

After all the necessary passport clearances at the UAE-Oman border, we finally reached our destination at about 3am. We stopped at a rocky beach to rest, get some shut eye and wake up in time to catch the sun rise. By the time we had set up tents and figured out whether to sleep in the tents or ditch the tents and sleep in the coaster (hard rocky beaches can be very cold and unforgivingly give you a full body reflexology) it was already 4.30am. Which meant we only had a few hours to sleep. So sleep we did. I chose the tent.

Woke up at 7.30 and was just in time to watch the sun rise from the jagged rocky mountain landscape. Masyaallah, the surrounding scenery was beautiful! We couldn't see much when we arrived as it was quite dark. So to wake up to the breathtaking sight was a treat! Cameras poised, we started snapping away. Freshening up was a problem as the only facility on the beach was a 4 cubicle male and female toilet. No showering it seems. But it's a beach. And there's no shower? So we brushed our teeth and washed our faces. That'll do. For now.

Sunrise at the beach

Professionals at work

The coaster

Drove to Khasab town to get brekkie and scout for the cheapest adventure package we could get. Adventure package meaning mountain safari and sea tour. Ok, not so adventurous after all, I guess. :D Breakfast was 'roti canai' or paratha with curry. Yum. Best roti canai I've had since moving to the UAE. And I got it in Oman. Funny.

After much negotiation, we got a good deal for our two-day package from one of the many travel agents in town. When it was time for the mountain safari, three 4WD's came to pick us up. One was a Toyota, one a GMC and the last one.. a Hummer! Be still my heart. Ok, Hummers may not be THE dream car and not many people would want to own one (unless you have loads of money and have no other car in mind to buy, or you live next to rocky mountains and a Hummer might only be the most stylish viable choice) but to at least get to ride in the thing would make anyone happy. Right? So anyway, I didn't push my way through to secure myself a seat but instead let the organisers of the trip have their few hours of bliss. *Sigh* So my husband and I trotted over to the least appealing of the three, the Toyota. *Sigh*

The mountain safari

View from the top

The mountain safari was alright. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just views of the rocky mountains from above. All four of us in the Toyota fell in and out of sleep from the lack of it the night before. I kept banging my head against the window every time I dozed off. Which later resulted in a mild headache. Ouch.

It was quite dark when we went back to the beach to set up tent again and prepare for our barbeque. Everyone was tired but in a good mood and we ate, chatted and went to sleep. I again chose the tent. I just love freezing to death and roll on stones in my sleep..

The next morning we packed up and headed to the docks for our sea tour. Please note, we haven't showered since we arrived with the excuse that we'll get to jump into the water when the dhow (name for traditional boat in the region) drops anchor for the snorkeling session. Our mums would have been so proud of us! So the dhow cruised into the open waters and along rocky cliffs. The water was a deep green and was oh-so-enchanting. When we reached a tiny rocky island where the snorkeling session was to take place, everyone jumped to their feet in excitement only to find out our dhow (and tour agent) didn't provide enough snorkeling gear and life vests! This was rather unsettling as other dhows (from other tour agents) around us provided each person on its vessel with a life vest if not with snorkeling gear. We only had 3 or 4 life vests and about 5 or 6 snorkeling masks. And our dhow was carrying about 30 adults and children! The children snapped up all the gear in no time.

My husband is not a good swimmer so he really needed a life vest if he was to jump into the water. Mind you, it was deep open water and more than a 100 meter swim to the rocky island. Even I had doubts whether to jump in or not and I am quite a good swimmer! Only half of our group jumped in in the end including me and my husband. He managed to get a life vest when one of the kids was done with it. The water was so refreshing and I felt a bit cleaner after not showering for 2 days! I can't say the same for the rest who chose not to jump in though. I'm sure they were very disappointed as we were all looking forward to it.

The docks

Swim, but please don't drown in the process

On the way back to the docks, as promised, a small school of dolphins followed our dhow and jumped out of the water then and again. That was probably the highlight of the whole trip! Everyone was so excited and shouted 'oooouuuhhh' and 'aaaaahhhhh' every time the cute thing displayed its acrobatic skills.

Hi cutie!

Our coaster headed home that evening. Everyone was tired, exhausted but at the same time happy with the trip. We saw some amazing sights, made new friends and talked about going on another adventure. When and where has yet to be determined.

And if we have to rough it again, 'koboi' style, I say, bring it on! :)